Steve Eighinger

That mechanical gene in the family never found its way to me

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 11, 2019 12:01 am

First of all, I realize the tremendous irony of what I am about to tell you.

Secondly, I don't care.

And never have.

About cars, that is.

Well, actually, I care about cars. I care that they run properly and get me from place to place. I simply know nothing about them.

But back to the tremendous irony thing for a minute. My dad and brother were both lifelong mechanics. Both of them could fix anything that had to do with engines and four wheels.

I think it involved a gene they were born with, one that never found itself to me via the family tree.

Most all of the male members of the Eighinger family -- uncles, cousins, nephews, etc. -- have long been known for their mechanical expertise, the ability to "turn a wrench," as they say.

Except for one -- me.

In that respect, I have always been the black sheep of the family. The added irony of this longstanding inability to know about or be able to do anything mechanical, especially when related to a vehicle, is that I have always loved racing, be it dirt track, NASCAR, IndyCar or Formula One. My older brother, who passed away a few years ago, was a longtime driver and race car owner. I grew up around engines and cars, but none of that kind of knowledge ever rubbed off on me.

Absolutely none.

I was probably in my late 20s or early 30s before I actually put gas in my car. Believe me, when that last full-service gas station faded into the sunset, I was worried.

I was so inept at mechanical things growing up that a high school shop teacher once promised to give me a "C" if I promised not to touch any more of the school's equipment. The only shop-class project I ever brought home to show my parents was what was supposed to be a screwdriver. The key word there was "supposed."

"Oh ... that's nice," my mom said. "What is it?"

I have never been able to drive a standard (or "stick") transmission. My dad tried to teach me -- once -- and finally had me pull off to the side of the road, stop the car and get out from behind the wheel.

"I'll drive home son," he said.

I once put air in my two front tires and when I was bouncing down the road afterward I pulled into a garage and asked one of the mechanics to see what was wrong. After he checked the tires, he reported, "Sir, you have 102 pounds of pressure in one of the front tires and about 95 in the other."

Oops.

I once tried to "build" a small utility table that my mom wanted for her kitchen. Admittedly, it was a bit wobbly, but I figured it would work. The first item she sat on it caused it to collapse.

Before my wife and I were married, I tried to tell her I was helpless when he came to tools and "stuff" like that.

Shortly after we were married she asked me to fix something, and I had no idea what to do.

"I told you I'm not mechanical," I said.

"But ... I thought you were kind of kidding," she said.

Nope, not in the least.

I'm the kind of guy who makes it possible for repairmen or all kinds to earn a decent wage and always be assured of having a job.

And for the record, my wife now has her own toolbox and has become quite handy around the house.