Engine Troubles

One of the deacons at our church gave a homily this month that touched me. Yes, there were several excellent points about how to lead a better life and have a closer relationship with the Big Guy. However, it was the story he told about his long career as a member of the City of Houston Fire Department that stuck with me when Mass ended.

Deacon Bill pointed out that many firemen take on second careers for those times they’re not on the job. (Thank goodness, or Firehouse Subs might not exist.) They also do a lot of upkeep during their shifts at the station, including repairs on the big red fire truck engines. A member of his team became so skilled at repairing transmissions – which is not an easy task – that he opened his own business.

One day, a young fireman had car troubles and learned the repair work – on his transmission – would cost more than he wanted to pay. So he asked his fellow public servant if he would be willing to fix it. “If you bring in the transmission and watch me until I’m finished,” said the veteran, “I’ll do it.”

The next morning the young apprentice rolled it in and others gathered around to watch the master disassemble the broken transmission. Hours passed. Patiently, piece by many piece – torque converter, planetary gear train, hydraulic controls, clutches and bands – he took it all apart, cleaned and repaired, then put everything back together

“Did you watch everything I did?” said the transmission virtuoso.

“Yes, I saw it all,” said the young fireman.

“Good. There’s just one more thing,” and the veteran took the entire transmission apart again. “Now it’s your turn.”

Fix a man’s transmission and he’ll be able to drive a car. Teach a man to fix transmissions and he’ll never go hungry. That sounds vaguely familiar.


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