The fun in creating our own problems
Years ago I met a person who created math equations for herself. It was fascinating to me: She enjoyed solving problems so much that she created them? Not only is that the worst version of reality television, it is also really dorky.
Who would go out of their way to create work for themselves? Who needs more things to do? For years she was the strange one, then it clicked: My project cars were the same as her math equations. Every hulk that enters my garage is a problem to be solved, and I revel in the self-inflicted challenges.
Heck, at least a math nerd only pays for paper and pencil. My hobby dictates my housing decisions. The house I live in now was purchased half because my wife liked it and half because I discovered its garage was a decent upgrade from my last one.
(Speaking of, I’m tired of being scolded by realtors for wanting to look in garages. It’s important. Stop acting like it’s not.)
Some get so addicted to creating problems they end up with a field full of cars and Tom Cotter knocking on their door. In the chaos of crusty project cars and parts, there sits a list. At the bottom of that list sits the first project. The one that came before them all. The one whose parts have already been paid for and put on the shelf, just waiting for the owner to find the time to install them. When Tom stops by, those boxes are always dusty.
I never understood how those situations happened. You spend good money on parts that your project car needs and then . . . just don’t do that job? Yet the white Corsa Coupe sitting in my own garage is proof that the same situation has found me. During a garage-shuffling last weekend, I found the new headliner and visors for the Corvair in boxes that I had lost in my own storage system. If that’s not a reality check, it’s going to take a fraud pen to prove it.
There was always another project shinier or more enticing than the delicate white headliner. Since the box contained the receipt for the parts, we don’t even have to guess how long I’ve been avoiding this project: Five years.
I owned zero motorcycles in 2018. Since then I have purchased twelve. You don’t do more than one a year on a writer’s salary unless you are buying some real projects. More things to fix. More new shiny objects. More distractions. You know what takes less time than installing a headliner? Scrolling Marketplace. Somehow, it always takes the exact amount of time you have. Never more, never less.
Since this personal archeological dig and discovery, I’ve been brushing back up on the installation method for a bow headliner like that in the Corvair. The process really is not that bad. I have the space to do it. The tools, too. The power to keep my hands clean for a day or two is within me. I am an unstoppable headliner-installing force!
I have not started the project.
Am I simply avoiding work? Seems unlikely. Some soul-searching reveals that I am scared to make the Corvair too nice. The safety-pinned headliner is one of the few reminders left of a one-way flight to Austin, Texas, when after multiple delays I arrived in the middle of the night, slept on a couch for a few hours, then used a basic toolkit to make the car drivable before pointing the headlights north for 2000 miles. Those safety pins were put in somewhere on the side of the road in Oklahoma after the headliner dropped down to rest on my head. If I replace the headliner, will I somehow forget the adventure that cemented my love for this car? Surely not.
For now, I’m not going to chance losing the memory. It’s driving season in Michigan, but not for much longer—I’m not going to waste the good weather that remains staring at a car sitting in my garage, no matter the condition of its interior. Maybe this winter I’ll get around to that headliner. Probably shouldn’t hold my breath, considering one of the motorcycles needs a new head gasket, and that’ll probably spiral into a restoration. So many fun problems to solve . . .