Friday, July 15, 2011

A post about cars, mechanics, and why I wish I could grow a penis on command

Question:

What is worse than being doused in hot oil, set on fire, and then run over repeatedly with a truck?

Answer:

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!

32 comments:

SJ said...

nothing makes me crankier than a man patronising me by calling me 'sweetie'. Makes my blood boil!

Autumn said...

Yeah. One time a guy tried to charge me twice the amount. I asked a young man who was in the military and quite large (I am 5'3) to assist me. Somehow the price went down...way down.

Tuesdai Noelle said...

Wow! This post speaks to me louder than a annoyed middle school principle to an auditorium full of bad students who continue to skip class!

Ha, exactly @ the last paragraph AND I liked this part: "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 know the feeling. Afterwhile, you just wanna say, "Yeah, I am THAT girl..." just so they can shut up already and finish the job without the "now honey..." lectures. Unfortunately, for me, I didn't get these rules (even though I knew them first hand) in time when my car went up in full smoke on the express way some 4 weeks ago. Turns out it overheat melting my shocks where I need a new engine. Hmmm. I could just slap those mechanics who kept telling me (while I explained the problem), "honey, I'll need to see the car first. Could be a link, pop-bust. Oil...but I'll have to see the car first..." SMH. Is it safe to just say, "Men...." yet? Good post!

nancy said...

grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr... reading things like this makes my inner feminist very angry!

Eleanor at Mirror Of My World said...

lol this post made me laugh but also get annoyed. its frustrating when they think that just cos youre a woman you know nothing about cars!!
xo

jodeska said...

Good on you- without a doubt I would have caved and sent my boyfriend in to "deal with it"!

Sabrina said...

Such a funny post, you're such a talented writer! I laughed out loud (yes I actually lolled). No experience with mechanics as such though, I don't even have a drivers license. But I think it's bad enough that my oven stopped working.

Lulu said...

i agree with every idea you defend in this post :|, just because we're women doesn't mean we're dumb :(.

ellie's desk said...

Oh no....but so true about women and mechanics..or so it seems. The way they treat us. My mom really scares them. They have heard her rants. She's fierce.

Funny, how I talk to my car like a person too. Usually, its a guy. I had a Simon for awhile.

lucy and sarah said...

What a mechanic. Dang. Such a truth all post, for sure. Hope you have a good weekend.

A Redhaired Designer said...

That's awful. i feel for you...I've had a shit week full of shitty people too! I hope things pick up for you! :)

AquĆ­ said...

thats so funny and yet so not! I think the most frustrated I've ever been is due to a broken down car, which is frequent. I've always driven a heap!

The Book Florist said...

I just went back and reread what I commented the other day, and gosh, I didn't realise that it sounded so cheesy. Doesn't change the fact that I meant it. Thankyou for your comment. It was incredibly sweet.

And I hope that your mechanic troubles don't hang around for long. It sounds just like something out of particularly infuriating Seinfeld episode. Have you seen the one where the mechanic became so emotionally attached to Jerry Seinfeld's car that he actually kidnapped it? Seems like mechanics are notorious for being frustrating. Take care. Love from the Book Florist.

Chelsea Lane said...

GRRRR mechanics. lucky me, I only have nice ones where I live. come visit? ;)

xoxo

kimbirdy said...

ugh, that is so frustrating!!! luckily i have had good friends/dated guys who were mechanics so i never had to deal with mechanics out in the world. i do, however, get treated like this on a daily basis about everything because i look like a teenager. i wish i could wear a tattoo which updated automatically on my birthday so people would understand i am a fully grown, adult woman. "i'm almost 30, yes i understand a lot about the world and life, no i do not need your advice on boys or picking a major. i am married and already finished graduate school. would YOU like some advice maybe? because as it turns out, i'm 5 years older than you." i really like the idea of kicking them in the shins really really hard.

Krystal said...

eww that sounds like such a frustrating couple of days! i took my car in once because the a/c wasn't working but it worked for them - and they sent me home. next thing you know, there is a leak in the a/c system which got the electronical dashboard wet so they had to replace it! ha!

LCR said...

o my, this sounds so frusterating... i hate people's assumptions, especially when it comes to mechanics.
erg!!

Katie said...

I love this post for so many reasons. 1. I've always wanted to take a beginners auto shop course. I actually enrolled in one but it was canceled due to low attendance. 2. I'm learning about motorcycle maintenance RIGHT NOW 3. I've always had a dream of creating an auto shop composed entirely of female mechanics. Wouldn't that be great?

It's wonderful to hear about your experience and wisdom. I think we've all been there or had a fear of bringing our car in only to be treated like weak, silly women who can't handle the manliness of mechanics.

Alex said...

This title made me giggle.
Can't stand dealing with mechanics!

Deidre said...

I hate mechanics, this has happened to me before as well. and it drives me bonkers!

I hope your car is all better.

Ashley said...

I hate being called sweetie! hate!

Thankfully, my dad taught me a thing or two about cars...so that has helped with the patronizing from mechanics.

Sara Louise said...

Holy cr*p! Just reading that conversation made me want to bang my head into the wall! What a condescending ahole! xo

Poppies and Sunshine said...

Oh I hate car problems!!! I just had to go in for an oil change, and it ended up being a big, expensive problem! It is so frustrating.

keishua said...

mechanics!!! Last year, I had the worst experience with them and my old car. I brought one of my male co-workers with me and things magically got settled.

Ann said...

Oh I'm with you...

just because we're of a different gender they think we are the stupid ones when it comes to cars, driving included.

Love this post ♥

The Cat Hag said...

Haha this cracks me up.

I hate it when men think that all women are silly especially when it comes to cars! :|


xoxo,
Addie
The Cat Hag

Popcorn, Pugs & Peonies said...

Oh gosh, this made me laugh. I have a distrust of mechanics.Sorry you had such a lousy time.

*Erin

Jazzy E (hivenn) said...

<3

Cassidy said...

Ugh! The world is filled with misogynistic bigots. Sorry to hear that happened to you, how annoying!

Tuesdai Noelle said...

I added you as a link :)

Tuesdai Noelle said...

I added you as a link :)

iris said...

Oh man, I get this kinda stuff with IT guys. I'm a computer scientist, dudes, you don't need to ask me if everything is plugged in and if I've tried restarting. Puh-leeze.