So much oil, so little common sense


Derrick Knutson
Derrick Knutson

The thick, black oil covered a sizeable section of concrete in the garage and a fair amount of it was dripping down the drywall when my wife came out into the garage and said she had heard me “talking to myself.” 

I had not realized I was verbalizing the thoughts going through my head at that particular moment.

I doubt any of those phrases were rated PG.

A bit of a snafu arose when I was changing my oil about two weeks ago.

I’d been putting off the task for a while because it’s been so darn cold out, but eventually I couldn’t ignore the digital mile counter on my dash that kept informing me the oil in my car should have been changed about 2,500 miles ago.

I was hoping to make it until spring to change the oil, but if I had put off the task until then, the oil would have likely thickened to the consistency of Silly Putty and gummed up the inner workings of my car.

Subsequently, I’d imagine the vehicle would have been rendered unusable.

So, with the temperature around 20 degrees in my garage, I sluggishly crawled under my vehicle after driving it up on a pair of hard plastic car ramps.

Prior to sliding under the car, I placed jack stands under the frame as a precautionary measure.

Other than taking off an oil filter that required a wrench, two hands and a fair amount of teeth gritting, changing the oil went off without a hitch.

I had the task completed in about fifteen minutes, and I placed the used oil I had drained into an oil pan in front of my car.

I removed the jack stands, and then hopped into my car and stuck it into reverse to drive it off the ramps.

Normally, it only takes a slight touch of the gas and the car easily drives down the ramps.

This time, I had to push the pedal down a bit further for a reason unknown to me at the time.

When the car started to roll down the ramps, it slowed.

Apparently, this created enough pressure to shoot the two ramps out from under the car, one of which struck the oil pan at an impressive velocity.

The pan hit the garage wall, flipped and four quarts of used oil was strewn across the wall and the concrete floor. (Insert abovementioned expletive tirade here).

The puddle of oil began to spread quickly, and I mopped as much of it up with some paper towels as I could.

But that wasn’t enough to keep the spill from spreading, so I had to go purchase a bucket of Oil Dri, which is a sand-like mixture polluters like myself use to clean up massive oil spills.

Millions of tons of the product was probably thrown into the ocean following the sinking of the Exxon Valdez and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

When I got into my vehicle to go buy the product, it was acting strangely.

It would hardly move when I put in it reverse and pressed down on the gas pedal.

Thinking the worst—the vehicle must have busted in half when it fell those couple inches off the ramps—I got out of the car and crawled under it.

I saw nothing worrisome.

It took me a moment to realize I had engaged my car’s parking brake after driving it up on the ramps and had not disengaged the vehicle-stopping aid.

That also explained the pressure buildup that had forced the ramps to squirt out from underneath the tires at such a high rate of speed.

I could have been angry at this revelation, but I chose to control my rage and just stare at the expanding mess of oil in the garage.

In a way, it was quite beautiful, Picasso-esque, even.

Maybe I’ll see if I can charge artsy-type people to come muse over the artistic oil stain in my garage.

I’ll make the fee to see the art cheap: one pound of Oil Dri.

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