Do I Need This?

I remember when I was in college, the first time. This period was an amazing part of my life that was truly an incredible three years and eight months block of time.

Art Center College of Design in the early 80’s. I am guessing that this slice of life was literally an era for all of us who attended, including those who did not – our loved ones who stood by our side to help us make it through.

One overcast day, my very good Art Center friend Mike and I went for a car ride up in the hills around the Pasadena/Santa Anita area. I don’t think there was a specific reason for this drive other than to drive up and down windy roads and see where they took us. We were driving in my 1973 Toyota Celica, which was at the time still in rather ‘good’ condition. The descriptor ‘good’ is used loosly here because I was in college and I didn’t pay for the car, my parents did. Not that I didn’t appreciate the car they bought for me, I did. But often kids in their early 20’s do not fully appreciate goods that were purchased with someone else’s money. So while I did appreciate the vehicle, I certainly did not treat it as if I did.

A lot of things could go wrong to a vehicle, let alone one that is 10 years old and driven swiftly over a dip in the road. This is what happened with us. I had misread the road’s dip and my speed was apparently too fast because soon afterwards, there was a fast clinking sound coming from the engine compartment. Uh oh, I thought. Certainly this was not what I wanted to hear and impede my fun.

I pulled to the side of the two-lane road and we both got out of the car. With the hood open, I just stared down and had no idea what to even look for. Fortunately Mike was always very mechanical, not the case for me! He started to look around and found the problem. Part of the shroud that covers the engine fan had split and was now in the direct path of the spinning blades, which caused the clinking noise issue.

I looked at Mike and asked “Do I need this?” Mike said I did not, that it was just a fan shroud that wasn’t necessary for the engine to run. This was great news for me to hear! With two hands I grabbed the hanging shroud portion and started twisting and bending the metal in order to break the already weak remaining bond from the rest of the stable shroud.

Success! With a little elbow – grease, I was able to break off the hanging metal piece. Mike rotated the engine fan to make sure there were no additional contact points against the shroud to cause further noise. All was good. I carelessly and thoughtlessly tossed the torn piece of metal to the side of the road and said “Cool, let’s go!” That’s it. No remorse, no environmental conscience, just amusement and laughter.

Would I behave in the same manner now? Absolutely not. But the reckless abandonment/careless attitude that I had in those years is certainly worth an eye-roll with perhaps a hint of amused smirk. After all, I was a privileged kid who went to private college, and didn’t pay for anything. No Art Center student had a concurrent job while in school. How could we? Art Center’s educational structure had you in school all day long, and then immersed with homework assignments all night long, literally.

Even now as I recall that particular memory I relive both sides of the situational coin, viewing it from an adult and ethical perspective. I would never do such a thing now, toss trash out the side of the road, no way. But I also view it from a perspective of the careless years of youth, where the world still revolved around the self. Those uncomplicated years of life filled with simple, and fond memories.