Broken Down Men

I drove a 1975 Chrysler Cordoba when I was in college. I bought it in 1989 for $1,500. It was a good first car—almost no rust, relatively low miles (70K), and as sturdy as a Sherman tank. Three years after the purchase, the engine started making a clanking noise. At first, the sound was barely perceptible and showed up only when I drove the car long distances. As time progressed, the noise became more frequent and a bit louder.

I was a senior in college and eating two packets of Ramen noodles with a diced up hotdog for dinner most nights. Needless to say, I didn’t have an auto repair fund. My way of dealing with this little annoyance was to turn the radio up louder and louder. It’s amazing how much you can’t hear when the dial is on ten.

You can guess how well my strategy worked. Two months before graduation, I was parked at a four-way stoplight in the middle of Lincoln, Nebraska, and dark gray smoke started to billow out from all four sides of the hood. The engine died just as the car behind me honked. There I sat, with my radio blaring, in a dead vehicle that two days later I would sell for $120 to a scrap metal company.

Before I junked the ‘doba, I had it towed to an auto repair shop. I knew that moment with a mechanic wasn’t going to go well for me. The man in the striped shirt wiped off a dingy film from the engine block, diagnosed the problem, and then gave me a condescending look. He asked me whether or not I’d heard a slight clanging noise before the breakdown. Every part of me wanted to lie, but I didn’t. When I told him about the slow and steady progression of the noise, he replied:

If you’d have brought this car into me when you first heard that noise…it’d likely have given ya ten more good years.

I’d been afraid to pop the hood and take a glance at what had been going on inside my engine. I knew why—looking inside would cost me time, money, and hassle. As foolish as it was, I had decided that it was easier to throw in a cassette tape, crank the volume, and pretend everything was fine.

Our country is full of men who are hearing clanking noises inside, but they’ve turned up the volume by increasing their activities—hobbies, work, and sports. They’re racing from one thing to another, leaking smoke from the sides of the hood. The tragedy, however, is that their wives, children, and friends are suffering the most. Everyone wins when men live well…but everyone loses, and loses big, when they don’t.

It doesn’t need to be this way. Men can live with passion and zeal, without missing out on the most important things in life. As we head into the fall—the season for outdoor sports and hobbies—pick up a copy of “Man on the Run” for the men in your life. It’s time for men to take a look under the hood, diagnose the problem, and find the solution.

We’re dealing with living life really, really well…it’s worth the work!


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