Commentary

Running short of oil on the highway of life

Uncle Halvor learns a thing or two about auto maintenance.

Halvor made the declaration as if it was perfectly obvious. “We been on a trip, you know.”

I arched an eyebrow. What, I wondered, was coming next?

“Yah, me and Helga, we went off to South Dakota to visit her sister Inga, out there in Sisseton, dontcha know.”

“You were lucky to have such good winter weather,” I told him. “Did you have a good trip?”

“Well, it was a good trip for Helga. For me, it wasn’t so hot.”

“Why was that?”

“We were zipping along there between Morris and Starbuck and, dontcha know, the oil blinker went on and the dinger started dinging away!”

“Oh, oh, that’s bad news.”

“You’re telling me! But here’s the deal. We’re only two miles from Morris so I stop at the first gas station and, sure enough, the dip stick shows I’m bone dry.”

“What do you expect, Halvor? You’re driving a l994 Olds! That’s a really old chariot! Why don’t you break down and buy a new, decent car? You have the money.”

“I like my old car. Anyways, I buy five quarts of oil and pour it in. Meanwhile, a little old guy has come over to help supervise. I’m ready to go and start the car. It sounds like a threshing machine! Meanwhile, Helga is checkin’ things out. She goes to the passenger side and says, ‘There’s a big pool of oil over here!’ I get out and come around and, sure enough, there’s oil all over the pavement. I check the dip stick and it measures empty again! The little old guy says, ‘There’s a Buick garage about a mile down. See if your car can make it that far.’”

“You drove a mile without oil in your engine? You could have blown it out right there!”

“Yah, I know. But what was I gonna do? Anyways, they put it up on a hoist and the mechanic just slid the old filter right off.”

“You mean it wasn’t screwed on properly?”

“Not exactly! They checked and found it was for a 2004 Olds rather than a l994 like mine. And we had made it all the way from Bleak Valley, Wisconsin, to Morris, Minnesota, losing oil all along the way!”

“That’s pretty amazing, Halvor.”

“Yah, but that ain’t all! When Helga gets in the car and we start off for Sisseton, she has this smug look on her face. When I ask her what’s up, she tells me this little old guy had asked her, ‘How far are you and your father going?’”

I wanted to laugh out loud, but I restrained myself. “I bet that hurt a little.”

“Talk about mixed feelings! I felt blessed with luck and disgusted at the same time.”

“Otherwise the trip went fine?”

“Oh, sure, the trip was good, but it got me thinking. There are folks who seem to think it doesn’t make any difference what you believe these days or what church you go to. The main thing is, are they sincere? It seems to me you can be as sincere as you want and still be a hunnert percent wrong. I mean, I’m sure the guy who put that 2004 oil filter on my l994 Olds was sincere. Incompetent, but sincere.”
Well … it’s something to ponder.

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)