Hydraulics and the hero cycle

As some of you know, i spent some time this week trying to track down a bit of hose in order to resurrect a much needed forktruck. My initial failure at the auto parts store was but the first leg of a strange, and headache inducing, journey. Yesterday morning i started at the Kubota dealership in town — i was planning on working my way from near to far, as is logical — where the counter guy didn’t have anything for me but was steadfastly sure that the auto parts store i’d just been to did, no matter what the cranky old guy said, have the tubing i needed. It didn’t, and i saw it with my own two eyes. So began a classic tale of running around in circles…

To the phone! I called Mitsubishi’s US headquarters; that was pointless and i threw up a little in my mouth when i had to explain to the lady on the other end that Wisconsin’s abbreviation is WI, rather than WA. The first dealership i called was curt and unhelpful because i hadn’t purchased the lift from them so it wasn’t their problem. So i went back to my friendly little town. One place told me that another place would be the only place that would have such a rare beast as 15cm (c. 6 inches) of flexible, relatively low-pressure and oil resistant hose. Over the phone they confirmed the existence and their possession of my desire.

To Ishpeming! Where i walked into OK Industrial proffering my oily bit of black tubing and declared, “For the love of the working class, please tell me you can match this…” (No, really, direct quote.) Ain’t much love for the working class. So as i made my way back to town, i stopped at every place that might sell such a thing, growing more and more discouraged – and headachy – every step of the way.

I was no longer bothering with traditional auto parts stores, but i meat nice gentlemen at the Case dealership and the Cat dealership. The last chance was at the John Deere dealership where i found two very friendly guys. We talked it all over, one of them started making calls to auto parts stores looking for something specific but apparently somewhat rare (perhaps out of date). The thought was that old style power steering line might do the trick and he knew where to get some.

Wanna guess where i had to go? Yup, the first auto parts store. But this time i asked for Chip because he (via hearsay) is the only one who really knows anything there. Chip happily sold me two feet of the stuff…in case i had to make a full loop. Five minutes after getting back to work the forklift is fully operational. Probably five hours and 50 miles of driving for $5 worth of parts and 5 minutes worth of labor. Ah well…

One of the characteristics of the hero cycle in myth is that the hero goes away on an adventure but returns. You can see it just about all of them, but The Alchemist is a fine modern myth that shows it explicitly. The hero has a dream in Spain, treks all the way across N. Africa to find his treasure, which is not there. But he does find a realization, which he follows back to the place he had the original dream. And there, there he finds the treasure.

Which all suggests that it’s the journey, not the destination. Is the quest for some hydraulic hosing really heroic? No, no it isn’t. But the point of myth is to put mundane life in perspective. Most of the time one has to put some effort into seeing the connections (and know a fair amount of mythology). Every great once in a while, it comes at you like a lead pipe.

Or maybe it’s just irony.


~ by Lex on February 3, 2010.

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