Human "Check Engine" Lights

Its likely happened to everyone who owns a car. Driving along, bumping some Michael Bolton, and BOOM, the check engine light comes on. 

Given there are 22 gazillion parts to a car (its true, not at all inflated) this could mean ANYTHING. 

This happens to me and my car. A lot.

When you own a mid 00's sporty German vehicle that may have had some aftermarket tweaks to the computer and engine, you are destined to get to know the light well. So much so that you buy a small device that connects to your car's OBD-II computer, and that wirelessly connects to your iPhone via bluetooth. From this app, it will tell you EXACTLY what is wrong using a series of codes and brief descriptions (System fuel too lean, or Misfire in cylinder 3, or GTFO OF YOUR CAR ITS ON GODDAMN FIRE.) 

How helpful would this be if we had this for humans? The practicality is mind-blowing. Im a very happily married man to a gorgeous wife that made two beautiful youngsters with me. These youngsters, (and sometimes my wife) arent specifically clear about what is bothering them. If only they had a "check engine light". 

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing. Im fine."

" R5609. This code here says that youre pissed i forgot to take the garbage out."



"What's going on Buddy? Why are you upset?"


"Oh, a P70801 code.  That code means youre upset because i gave you the cookie you asked me for.

If only it was that easy. But it isn't. We need to become intuitive by learning people individually, and looking at cues that determine there might be an issue on the rise. It takes some practice, even in your best attempts, and you might hit some false positives. 

"What's wrong?"

"Huh? Me? Nothing."

"Oh, you looked....pensive."

"Well, now that you mention it, I was kind of craving ice cream."

"Ooooh! Me too!"

OR, you're best interests and attempts could open a can of gasoline-laden earthworms on PCP.

"What's wrong?"

"Huh? Me? Nothing."

"Oh, you looked.....pensive."

"Well, now that you mention it, I hate that thing you did 14 years ago. Let's talk about that now."


Obviously, humans, while mechanically less complex than cars, are emotionally sophisticated creatures that require a long term mastery of interaction to understand. This is why we get to know people. We all have that friend that can "real-talk" us. Tell us we smell, tell us like it is, tell us we are being a dick. 

This is like this in business. In customer service, you don't get a check engine light. The call you get, the tone in their voice, that's your check engine light. It's up to you to troubleshoot and diagnose. YOURE the OBDII connector. You eventually get to know your customers, and each one has a different algorithm for their issues. Some customers "break" over very little things. Other customers barely react when the world is coming to an end.  At the end of the day, it's being able to read the nuances and repair them.

Human check engine lights just need compassion, understanding and solution. In the end, customer support is 10% fixing the technical issue, and 90% fixing the human.