Years ago, a veteran mechanic I worked with used the phrase, “Righty tighty, lefty loosey” in our shop on a regular basis. I always assumed it was a subtle way of poking fun at younger technicians like myself. All was taken in good humor. Most nuts and bolts fasten this way and no reminder is needed. The popular saying doesn’t always hold water.
I was on a service call as a 16-year-old gas station attendant in 1970. A man called my boss asking for assistance on changing a flat tire. He couldn’t get the lug nuts off. Believing that I’d need a big cheater bar, it turned out the fellow’s car was an older Plymouth. The proper method for loosening nuts on this vehicle was righty loosey, lefty tighty. I had the nuts off in seconds.
The vehicle owner asked me how I’d accomplished such. He was easily in his 60s or perhaps older. When I told him about Chrysler vehicles being made this way he was flabbergasted.
“Now I remember!” he moaned.
I felt like an intellectual Arnold Schwarzenegger having been able to remedy this guy’s dilemma. It only cost him $5.00 back then for my knowledge and brawn. It’d be ten times that now.
These days, some 52 years later, I have the same problem as this fellow did. Stuff that I knew a few years earlier I’ve now forgot. Even simple chores oftentimes get messed up for no reason.
Today, I was at the post office to mail a package. The clerk looked at my box and then quietly remarked, “Where’s this going?”
Looking at the label, I noticed that I hadn’t included a physical address other than Eagletown, Oklahoma. Luckily, I remembered the house number and street and was able to pencil things in.
Asking the postal employee if this occurred often, I expected to hear him say it happened all the time.
“It’s quite rare.” the man answered. That didn’t make me feel good.
It’s fairly normal for older people to slowly start forgetting things. This doesn’t necessarily mean dementia or Alzheimer’s is on the horizon, but then again, it’s something to keep an eye on. My wife and I have slowed down and ritually go through a checklist of sorts before leaving the house.
Coffee pot off?
Curling iron off?
Security system turned on?
Only after these things are mentally checked do we exit our garage. Sad thing is, we’ve driven away and left the garage door up. Only when the security company called and said they detected an open circuit did we turn around and correct our mistake.
I now use special caution when driving. I’ve caught myself a time or two ready to step out of a running vehicle without putting transmission in park. In this town, senior citizens all the time are hitting gas instead of the brake. Over the years, our newspaper has featured pictures of various cars and trucks on top of curbs and inside buildings. Thankfully, I haven’t reached that stage, yet.
I have friends that joke about senior moments. The older I get the less humor is found in their statements. Thinking back to Martin Allen and his joking around the shop regarding, “Righty tighty, lefty loosey,” perhaps Martin wasn’t trying to be funny after all. It might’ve been his way of mentally keeping things in perspective for his own good. He was known for telling the same stories over and over, yet no one wanted to say anything in fear of hurting feelings.
Should I ever resort to repeating the same ole tales like a broken record, it’s a given that things aren’t right upstairs. Only problem is, someone will have to tell me because I won’t know otherwise. Never mind the hurt feelings.
At that point, most likely other things will be hurting as well!