The Zen of simple auto repair

More than just a new alternator.

A caller over the weekend on a public radio talk show introduced himself as a blogger from Cincinnati. (At least that’s where I remember him saying he was from.)

“In other words, I’m unemployed,” he said in explaining his occupation.

Even though I’m not technically unemployed, I can relate to his plight. So can at least some of the bloggers who may read this, I’m sure.

It’s a challenging time to find yourself looking for work. I can’t remember how many jobs I’ve applied for in the past five months. So far, the effort has garnered me a total of four interviews — and zero job offers. In fact, another rejection letter arrived in my mail Tuesday.

Aside from competing with dozens of candidates for the jobs that come along, the real challenge is remaining optimistic and determined in spite of the rejection. All I can think to do is keep learning from the experience and to simply keep trying.

So how did I react to the letter in Tuesday’s mail? I woke up early today, finished and submitted an application for yet another job. And I followed up on the application by exchanging some email with someone who received it.

I try to remain hopeful. And I also keep reminding myself of the ways I have benefited from the past five months, Those benefits include:

  • Finding time to improve my social-media skills. This blog, which I’ve always regarded as a work in progress, is a sign of what I’ve learned. And I’ve also improved my tweeting skills.
  • Spending more time in the gym. And the extra exercise has paid off. Many friends have told me I look better. I feel better, too.
  • Stepping out of my comfort zone. This ties in with my time at Warrior Crossfit Muscatine, one of the gyms where I have worked out this summer. Throwing caution to the wind and trying Crossfit is something I’m not sure I would have done before I lost my job. Without a doubt, it’s the best thing I’ve done for myself since then.
  • Pushing to try new things — an idea that extends beyond Crossfit.

Earlier this summer, I took on a temporary job in order to learn how to use InDesign — graphic design software I had never used. Mission accomplished.

This week, with some supervision and a little help from a friend, I changed the alternator on my truck. For anyone else who is mechanically challenged, the alternator is a generator that keeps the battery in your vehicle charged while you drive.If it doesn’t work, eventually your vehicle won’t start.

Sure, I had some help replacing the alternator on my truck. And, yes, I did it myself because I was too cheap to pay someone else.But it also shows my willingness to learn new things — even things at which I have never been good and have often gone out of my way to avoid.

For whatever reason, this time I popped the hood, studied the problem, realized only two bolts held that alternator in place and told myself: “You can do this.”

I’d like to think that’s the sort of thing potential employers ought to find interesting. And whatever my next job is, I’m going to go about it the same way I approached that alternator. In other words, I’m going to tell myself: “You can do this.”

And then I’m going to do it as well as I can.

2 thoughts on “The Zen of simple auto repair

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