Imaginary Interviews #4: A Day in the Life of a Dirt Particle

Ed Newman
6 min readAug 27, 2018
Photo: Ed Newman

For near 20 years I wrote a column called Synthetic Solutions for the National Oil & Lube News. One of my articles addressed the importance of filtration in an engine. I suddenly had a notion to not just write about filters, but to interview a dirt particle so that I could offer up an “inside story.”

As luck would have it, while preparing my column I had a rare opportunity to interview a talking dirt particle by the name of Dirtamus Silicapoulis. Not often is one afforded a first person account regarding what actually happens inside an engine. Here are some excerpts from our discussion.

Mr. Silicapoulis, or “Tiny” (as he prefers to be called), asked that I not reveal his address or phone number because of the engine damage he has done. He doesn’t want his past to come back to haunt him.

Ennyman: How much experience have you had destroying car engines?

Tiny: Well, personally, I have only been involved with vandalizing one car engine. But I come from a very large family, and my kin have been destroying engines for decades.

Ennyman: What do dirt particles do on a typical day?

Tiny: Mostly you’ll just find us hanging out, suspended in air somewhere. Dirt particles are generally a fairly passive lot. We go with the flow, as they say. Wherever the wind blows that’s where you’ll find us. Believe it or not, there’s over 400 tons of dust and grit hovering in a cubic mile of air in a typical city. We’re talking, for the most part, about things you really can’t see with the naked eye. We’re not talking nuts and bolts, birds and small children. You can’t see us, but wherever there’s air, we’re there.

Ennyman: Can you tell us about the day you ended up inside an engine? Tell us, Tiny, how did it happen?

Tiny: It was your typical hot summer day. I was minding my own biz, basking in the sun, floating along when suddenly, whoosh, I was swept by an air current into an intake manifold. Swallowed alive! Did you know that engines suck in as much as 1200 cubic feet of air to properly burn one gallon of fuel? The internal combustion engine is really nothing more than a big air pump. It inhales a tremendous amount of air.

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Ed Newman

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y3l9sfpj