There is a film dimension beyond that which is known to common man. It is a dimension as vast as clearance space and as timeless as momentary. It is the middle ground between contact and hydrodynamic, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of Man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of lubrication, an area we call the Tribology Zone.

Respectfully submitted for your approval… The place is here, the time is now, and the journey into the oily black that we’re about to watch could be our journey. A journey that begins at a typical auto parts store filled with anonymous shoppers. The buyers of motor oil, a collection of possibly uninformed decision makers stuck together in a prolonged nightmare in which fear, doubt and the unknown walk hand in hand through the aisles.

In a moment we’ll start collecting clues as to the Whys, the Whats and the Wheres. We will not end the vision, we’ll only explain it…because this is the Tribology Zone.

Meet Jim Diesel, a trucker on his way to Arizona. A man in search of answers and perhaps salvation. A man thrust into uncontrollable events as he mourns the loss of his last engine and his choices in oil and service.

Next is 30-year-old Zodiac Wankle. Her occupation: artist. At present on vacation, driving cross country to Los Angeles from Manhattan. Illumination of dashboard light while on the I80 in Pennsylvania brings her into our story. But from this moment on, Zodiac Wankle’s companion on a trip to California will be doubt; her route–unease; her destination–quite unknown.

Meet Mr. Adam Forbanger, a local gentleman who has lived his life in carefree bliss. The young lady pacing nervously nearby is Mr. Forbanger’s wife, Ileana. She carries the worried look of someone who has just escaped drowning.

Lynn Veesicks, aged 24, a young woman waiting for a new life to begin on a cold November night. Not a very imaginative type is Wisconsin’s Miss Veesicks, levelheaded and focused. Like most young career women, she is smart and logical. All of which is mentioned now because in just a moment that intellect will be put to a test.

Charlie David’s son “Fat” Bob arrived on his two-wheeled stallion wearing fringed chaps and a jacket emblazoned with the Confederate flag. He shares not only his father’s love and loyalty of the vehicle and its sport but also his delectation of its innermost workings.

Our cast of characters arrives concurrently, as if by invitation. All are seeking the same panacea, a replacement or top up of the very blood that courses through the heart of their conveyances.

They all find themselves in front of the same display, staring wordlessly at the jug whose advertised prophecy declares it as the savior to each and every one of their vehicular woes.

It is Adam who first seizes his prize, followed by our leather clad friend, wherein Lynn quickly follows suit with a decisive grasp. Ileana tries to intervene, casting doubt on the virtue of the transaction, but Jim ignores the same conversation that Lynn is eavesdropping on and joins the ritual with little more than a slight pause. Ms. Wankel displays deeper caution, having now watched Jim arrive behind Bob in line at the cashier. Resigning her fate to duplicate that of the others, Zodiac becomes embedded between the Forbangers—Adam, victorious in his recent debate, and Lynn, who has already extracted her credit card in preparation.

What possible commonality lies in their purchases? Perhaps it is revealed in the cipher featured so prominently on the glossy label. I leave it to you, ladies and gentlemen, to draw your own conclusions behind the significance of “0W” and its merits across so vast a collection of applications and geographic localities. Is their collective decision decidedly right or wrong? Tonight’s postulation to be taken as you will in…the Tribology Zone.

Originally appeared in Tribology and Lubrication Technology Vol. 65, Number 11, Page 6.


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