What is worse than being doused in hot oil, set on fire, and then run over repeatedly with a truck?
Being treated like you’re an idiot.
Contrary to popular belief, at least contrary to MY popular belief, sometimes cars just don’t do what they are made to do. Namely, move forward. I discovered this the other day during peak hour. However, I also discovered that because I am a woman, I must obviously have the mentality of a five year old. A really stupid five year old. The kind that eats bugs, shoves rocks up their nose and then has to go to the emergency room. Yeah, THAT kind of five-year old.
Anyway, over the last few days, I have had to deal with mechanics. A LOT. Because unfortunately, as much as I may sometimes resent it, they’re quite crucial to the whole ‘making the car work again’ thing. Because even more unfortunately; swearing, pleading and begging with my car does not work. (This, right there, is the problem with technology. It cannot be reasoned with).
Here is just one example of a conversation that I was forced to have with the mechanics:
Mechanic : Just to let you know, when the battery light comes on...well it means that there is something wrong with the battery
Me: The battery light didn’t come on.
Mechanic (patiently): Well now, you see, when the alternator or battery die...the battery light comes on.
Me: Yeah, I know. But it didn’t. The oil light came on. This is why I was confused, because I know I have plenty of oil.
Mechanic: Well...it does come on. See, the battery light looks like a battery...you know, a cylinder shape with two bumps on the end. The oil light on the other hand looks like an oil can.
Me: Yes. I know (through gritted teeth). But the battery light did not come up. The oil light did.
*The mechanic then goes on to repeat his description of what batteries and oil cans look like, using his hands to demonstrate. This continues for a while, at the end of which I gave up and just pretended that yes, I really was that stupid.
I had another, similar, conversation the next day with a second mechanic. My car had begun to make a loud, shuddering, grinding noise whenever I turned a corner, so I called someone out in case the power steering was about to go. I got ‘now, when it gets cold, the car makes funny noises sweetie.’ Followed by ‘when something goes wrong with your car once, you become really sensitive to other noises.’ Because, of course, when I tried to show him the noise, the car did not make it. Because that would ONLY happen in a world filled with pet rainbows and pools filled with chocolate ice-cream sundaes.
So after these horrible few days, which drove me so crazy that I almost gave in to the stereotype and bleached my hair blonde, got a fake tan, wore a pink leather dress and carried around a mini-poodle, I decided to give you guys a few tips for dealing with mechanics that I wish I had been given a week ago.
-Ask questions. Ask LOTS and LOTS of questions, no matter how silly or irrelevant they may seem. After all, you are the customer and you have a right to know what is wrong with your car. If they dumb down the explanation, ask for the technical terms. If you don’t understand it, ask for it to be put to you more simply. There’s nothing wrong with either way. It shows that you’re interested, as well as building up your knowledge base which may come in handy if it ever happens again.
-If your car sounds or feels different and you think that something is wrong, press the issue. Keep on pressing the issue until you feel that your car has been sufficiently checked over (yeah, my power steering WAS going by the way).
-If you are asked a question about your car (such as: did the battery light come on...you know, for example), make sure that they listen to, and acknowledge your answer. A great way to get people to listen is to say something like ‘I don’t know why you bothered to ask me if you’re not going to listen to my answer.’ I was going to say something here like: this is a way of asserting yourself, but honestly it’s more a case of: nothing gets people’s attention faster than rudeness.
-Learn a little bit about cars. I am not trying to justify or excuse the sexism that can be experienced, but, for example, I don’t know how to check my own oil; nor do I know the make or model of the car I drive. While this says much more about my laziness than my intelligence; it can hard for people to take you seriously if you do, in fact, seem to have as little knowledge as a five-year old.
-If they are REALLY getting on your nerves then I suggest you do this: Kick them in the shins and then run away as fast as you can. Your car may not get fixed, but it will be a wonderful memory for you to enjoy for years. Only...if the police come knocking on your door, don’t mention you got this advice from me, okay?
Safe driving everyone!