How to Live Fluidly

Written By Hypocriticist

I was driving around the Catskills on an impromptu ski trip two weeks ago.  I skiied in the afternoon, and then drove back to a motel.  As I was driving around the motel parking lot, the brakes in my car all of a sudden stopped working.  It was getting dark outside.  I am not a skilled automotive person and I didn’t know what to do.

In the meantime, over 60 inches of snow was falling outside.  It was the best ski conditions I could remember.  I didn’t want to stop skiing, especially because of an automotive issue.  I was hoping to be able to ski in the morning of the next day, and maybe get the car checked out in the afternoon. So the next morning, I drove off towards the mountain. There were those brake problems again.  But I said to myself, “I’m not going to let this stop me.” I had to pump the brakes a few times to get the car to stop, and it was a little bit scary.  They weren’t completely broken, but they definitely weren’t working correctly. (No, its not a Toyota).

How was I going to find a mechanic on a Saturday in the wake of a 60-inch snowstorm that had knocked out power all over the area? No way.  It would ruin my whole day.  I was worried, but I had a feeling this situation would work itself out somehow.  But I didn’t know how.

I went skiing anyway. 

Image: From Hypocriticist’s Ski Trip


Image: From Hypocriticist’s Ski Trip


When I stopped skiing to grab lunch, I happened to sit near some old maintenance guys who worked at the resort.  They were talking about how another ski resort nearby was closed because the electricity was out.  Then they started talking about their machinery, and what they’d had to put it through to groom the snow, and ultimately, the conversation turned to general automotive maintenance.  They were talking about some guy they knew who was taking advantage of the snow storm to rebuild his old truck in his garage.  I asked them semi-jokingly if their guy would look at my car’s brakes. They said no, he’s not working today, but what was the problem? I told them about my malfunctioning brakes.

“You check the brake fluid?” they asked me.

I only vaguely knew that there was such a thing.  I always envisioned brakes being a pad that presses against the wheel to slow them down. I never envisioned brakes as a complex, pressurized mechanism with fluid and lines.  Well, they told me, “Maybe your line’s bad; but maybe you just need brake fluid.  Drive down the hill real slow and stop at the gas station across the street; you can get some brake fluid there.” 

I skiied the rest of the day, and when I finished, I did exactly what they said. Turns out my brake fluid was low, and by filling it right up, my brakes started working fine. 

I’m so glad I trusted my intuition – I would never have met those guys if I hadn’t gone skiing. I would have spent that whole Saturday trying to find a mechanic to look at my car, and probably missed the best skiing day of the year. Instead, by trusting my intuition, I actually got exactly the right advice I needed, right there in the lodge – for free. And I didn’t miss out on any skiing.


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