The curse of the inanimate object

“Bit smelly down here, isn’t it?” said the engine.

The engine’s talking to me. I’m hanging upside down in the bowels of my boat trying to get this bloody job done and the engine’s talking to me. OK, I’ll play:

“Err, yes, the smell. Boats are like that, very difficult to keep the bilge from smelling.”
“Well, try a bit harder, please. Some of us have to live down here.”
“Right, but can’t you see I’m busy right now?”
“What’re you doing?”
“Trying to unbolt your exhaust elbow so I can replace it. Last bolt’s stuck.”
“Yeah, we like to do that. Four bolts to undo, the fourth will always be the one that sticks. Twelve screws holding something, the head on the last one will be stripped. We wait till you’ve invested some time and effort before we plonk the first obstacle in your way.”
“Who’s we?”
“Inanimate mechanical objects.”
“Why put obstacles in my way? I’m doing this for you.”
“See, that’s not true. You’re fixing me because you don’t want me to break down. I don’t care if I break down. I’m not the one that’s going to suffer. You are. You’re changing the exhaust elbow for your own selfish reasons. See, you lot need to be honest with us.”
“You lot?”
“Animate objects, specifically humans.”
“OK. Sorry. I lied. I’m doing this job because I don’t want the engine to stop just when I need it. Please help. Is that better?”

The spanner moved, the bolt turned freely.

“Wow. Thank you, engine.”
“You’re welcome. You’d be amazed what a polite request will do.”
“I’ll change my ways, engine. I’ll never again swear at an inanimate object; kick it, hurl it across the room. Promise.”
“Good. Now, see what you can do about that smell, will you?”