Monday, 10 October 2011

A girl's best friend.

Taking my car to the mechanic arouses mixed feelings for me.  On one hand there's the fear of the unknown, on the other hand there's the confidence of handing the power and responsibility over to somebody who knows what they're doing.  Finding a new mechanic is on a par with finding a new gynaecologist.  The first visit is a real test.  It's not just about how good their work is, but also, equally important, is how they deal with me as a person.

My faithful little 1994 Mazda has just clicked over 81,000km.  She's had one prang.  Apart from that the tyres are the most expensive item and I had to put in a new thing to make the air conditioner work again.  Otherwise, the regular services and TLC keep everything going nicely.  I only drive her when I need to, choosing public transport where possible.  Public transport is cheaper, quicker, better for the environment and I get to read and eavesdrop while I'm travelling.  I also find it less stressful than peak hour driving.

Last week I had to work way over the other side of the city and I had to be there at 8am, so this was an occasion to drive.  Coming back I noticed the engine was revving very high while I was idling at traffic lights and the temperature gauge was showing "very hot".  When the lights went green and I started to move again, the temperature returned to normal.  I don't know much about cars, but I knew that it probably wasn't good.

So I rang Darren and explained everything that had happened.  We've been seeing Darren for about four years now.  I trust him.  He rings me and explains everything to me as though I'm a sentient being.  He answers my questions without judgement and I don't hear him laugh when I put forward my suggestions or descriptions.  He might have a very quick mute button on his phone, but the impression is that he cares and he doesn't treat me like an idiot.

Darren advised me to top up the water in the radiator before I drove it again.  Despite the good relationship I now have with Darren, I just couldn't bring myself to admit that I didn't know where the radiator was.  And what kind of water?  Tap? Evian? So my solution was I just didn't drive it until I took her in this morning.

"How'd you go with the radiator?  Was the level low when you topped it up?" was Darren's greeting.  Efficiency.  That's good in a mechanic.  But it was truth time.  "I didn't do anything.  I didn't drive it until now when I've brought it here to you, Darren."  I went all hot.  He maintained eye contact.  Did I see the beginnings of a smirk?  "That's ok.  We'll take a look today and I'll call you and let you know."

Great.  Off I went for my 30 minute power walk back home to prepare for a two hour phone conference.

90 minutes into the phone conference the other phone rang.  It was Darren.  My heart beat a little faster.  Was it going to be good news of the we-fixed-it-with-sticky-tape-and-she's-all-fine-to-go-once-you've-made-a-tiny-payment type?  Or bad news of the oh-god-you'd-better-sit-down-you'll-be-postponing-your dental-visit-and-yes-we-have-a-payment-plan kind?

I love it when Darren calls.  He goes into such detail about what they've looked at (the right park light globe was out, so we've replaced that) and also explains how the car works.  Over the phone.  I have no idea what he's saying.  I understand the individual words.  But that's the end of my comprehension.  When I was at university a friend used me as a guinea pig for his new IQ test methodology for his Masters in Psychology.  It considered different areas from the standard test and included a section on mechanical aptitude.  I remember that part of the test was all if cog A is turning anti clockwise and lever C moving from east to west, how many revolutions will cog F make in 30 minutes.  I didn't know.  I didn't want to know.  I couldn't even get engaged in the puzzle to be solved.  I just randomly marked boxes and was done in record time.  The report came back with glowing results on literacy, reasoning, spatial awareness and patterns.  In relation to mechanical aptitude, it said that the subject has a low level and indeed, appears to lack interest.  On the basis of this statement alone we concluded that his methodology was spot on.  Darren was still talking and I heard him say, "...just keep an eye on the level and top the radiator up every now and then."

Darren, Darren, Darren.  We've known each other long enough to know that this approach will not work.  "Darren you'll have to show me what to do when I pick the car up tomorrow."  Lightning fast on that magic mute button.  "Sure.  No worries."

It's so unlike me not to know how to deal with any potential situations.  Any other situation and I'd happily read the manual and make sure I knew what to do.  But my car is the area where I outsource all responsibility and knowledge.  I have male friends who just seem to have been born knowing about engines and how to fix them.  Amazing! I've considered this from a feminist point of view too.  I don't feel shut out - I'm just not interested.  While ever there's someone I can pay to help me and who doesn't talk to me like I'm a fool, I figure, I don't need to steal time from other things I'd rather be doing.

Go Darren!

1 comment:

  1. Picked up the car this morning. Darren showed me the radiator and took great care to instruct me in how to take the cap off and put it back on properly. (It's harder than it looks.) Or else he read my blog post and was milking it for all he was worth!