American ingenuity and trailer park wisdom have long told us that household items such as duct tape, super glue, JB Weld, and bubble gum hold unfathomable potential to fix anything
. Well, now you can add one more such household item to that list: pipe cleaners.
I was driving home from Dallas today, about thirty miles from home, when my accelerator cable snapped, meaning the gas pedal fell to the floor, but the car wasn't going anywhere. I pushed the car into an empty lot at Mockingbird and I35, where I sat basically hopeless. I called my mechanic to consult, and he didn't have any ideas. "I don't even think duct tape can fix that one," he said. I've long referred to him as kind of a philosopher-mechanic.
Then I started thinking about my neighbor and fellow Beetle owner, who often talks about VW engineering and its foundation in WWII German military vehicles. The cars were basically engineered to be fixable on the battlefield. The engine, for example, can be removed and reinstalled in a matter of minutes. It's held onto the frame by four bolts (or in my case, three...). So I decided that it was time to stop thinking like a civilian and adopt a certain battlefield mentality. That's right, for the first time in my life--and, God, I hope the last--I started thinking like a Nazi. Pretending that bullets were flying past, I got busy.
I found a couple old, used pipe cleaners under the seat, bent back the broken end of the existing cable, and tied it back to the gas pedal with the pipe cleaners. That worked, and a lot better than any amount of duct tape could have.
I drove to my mechanic's house, where we installed a new cable. In one of his lucidly philosophic moments, he assured me that I was "gooder than shit" and sent me on my way.