Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Automechanics for girls

Recently a man drove my car and pointed out the brakes were overheating and the hand brake was not disengaging properly.

Thehand brake light had been showing for months. Occasionally people would point it out to me, and i would say yes, i know, thehand brake light isn't working.

It never occurred to me that the hand brake light was working perfectly, but the brake wasn't.

My mechanic gently pointed out to me that the light actually indicates several things - lack of brake fluid and overheating brakes being the most likely - and the least likely being a non-workinghand brake light. As it was, the brake pads were wokn through and the brake fluid needed topping up. i was lucky not to do more damage.

i suppose one step further in silliness would be to put a smiley face sticker over the brake light so that nobody else would notice it was on and bother me about it.

Well, it was a very girly approach to the whole incident, and based on a faulty suppositon on my part, but i don't think it was only ignorance on my part. For me it makes sense to say that if the brake light isn't working properly it shows the brake light isn't working properly. i don't ask what else it might mean. Why not?

i can live and drive happily with my brake light showing and as long as the car performs normally i figure i am OK. i don't want to go to the mechanic with trivia - that seems even more girly. i pride myself that every time i hear a knock in the engine or have some sort of intermittant fault it does make sense and can be found by someone else. i don't make stuff up.

i think that many men like facts and like to know facts. Male conversation builds edifices of facts. Men compete about facts - look at my great big fact. When i was a teenager i was amazed at the stuff the guys knew - all about cars and stereos and martial arts and guns and alcohol and politics. They used the facts to marshal arguments about what was the best car, gun etc. it was usually pretty hypothetical because they never actually had access to any of it - but you were to know darn well that if they ever did get to own a car, gun, stereo or whatever it would be the best darn one because they just knew all that stuff. And when i briefly owned a motorbike, they were all sudden experts, and endlessly, clownishly helpful.

Recently a young woman who avowed she knew nothing about cars got a job in an auto parts store. Her rival for the job, an older man who is a qualified mechanic, lost out to her, seemingly because she was cute, and men would like to buy things from her and women would relate to her better. But wouldn't men want to buy auto parts from a man who had real expertise? No - because men already have all the expertise they need! Men do not go into an auto parts store and say - uh - i want a thingie, you know, the beige one. Men go into the auto parts store and enter into a spirited debate about the merits of the beige thingie they have already decided on. (And i have never known a man say beige. Men do do colours, but only if they are painting or if they are professionals.)

So it was superficially a winning situation for the auto parts shop. Men got to come in and see a cute girl.And maybe show off bit. Women got to have a laugh and do a little bonding over their purchase and maybe feel more comfortable in the store. The losers would be people like me - i don't need cute but i do need sensible advice that puts facts together. So thank you to the men in my life who provide it.

No comments:

Post a Comment