One Extra Second


“So, it won’t be ready until Monday Morning,” the multi-pierced mechanic said to me while he fiddled with recently removed bits of my car. He’d brought out one of my tie rods to show me the extent of their decline, along with a new tie rod that was supposed to go in my car. The problem was that they had to have these tie rods brought to this mechanic, and instead of tie rods for a 2005 Prius, he was holding a part for a 2006 car.

I should probably take a moment to point out that as far as cars go, I know next to nothing. I can put various fluids in the car, I can change a battery, and I can change a tire. Not that I ever want to because there are people that I’m supposed to be able to pay to do this stuff for me, and one of them is currently trying to show me…I have no idea. He could show me a peanut butter sandwich and a hot dog right now, and I’d be almost as clueless. “But Ricky, I was told that Apple Butter was much better for the engine that Concord Grape. What say you?”

“Sorry man,” he fidgeted with the broken tie rod. There’s a sign outside the station advertising that they sell Spinners. Could he not afford one? Stop fingering bits of my car, dude.
“Dude, this really throws a wrench in my gears.” He stares blankly at me as if he’s trying to figure out if I made that pun on purpose. “Is there anything you can do for me right now?”
“Well, it’s 1 pm, we’re actually closed now.”

Right. Of course. We can’t have Ricky spend another second under a car than he has to, and I guess this weekend I wouldn’t really want him to. I’m fairly sure he’s got a mother. I don’t, but I have a wife who has put up with my business for years while helping raise two special needs kids and a daughter that is just as much of a freak of nature as her old man. I was going to take care of the Sunday business on Saturday so she could sleep in. I was going to do that until Ricky decided my tie rods were the cure for his ADD.

Resigned to parting with the car for the remainder of the weekend, my mind keeps going back to that little bit of extra time that no one seems to want to commit to. The guy at the parts warehouse could have spent one extra second making sure that tie rod was the right one. Ricky could have spent a little extra time bolting them into the car so I could leave with it.
The imp of the perverse in the back of my head pipes up. “And what about you, Roley? What extra time are you not committing to?”

He’s right, you know. Am I spending that one extra second making sure things that I’m doing are correct? I go through my own backstory, and I realize that no, I may not be. It’s not just Ricky, I have my own issues.

What’s the cost of not spending that one extra second? In my case, it means doing things over most of the time. It means I’m not putting out my best work. Sometimes it means I’m not putting out work at all because I’m not committing to the extra time it takes.
That one extra second is a real bitch, but it might be one we have to pay attention to if we’re going to get shit done.

Anyway, Happy Mother’s Day, Ricky. As a tech support guy, I used to dread going over and fixing Mom’s computer and printer and TV, and all the stuff she didn’t know how to work. I hope you don’t get stuck changing oil, though if you do, don’t gripe about it. You’ll miss changing that oil one day, and you’ll want that one extra second more than anything.