Archive for April, 2014
My first car was a 1968 VW Beetle, which I bought in 1993. It had been sitting in someone’s barn for many years and only had 40k miles on it, which is unheard of. Anyway, I loved that car, but it broke down 3 times on the 4-hour drive home from college. This set the tone for the rest of the year I owned it– it needed some sort of repairs at least every month. Needless to say, I knew all the towtruck drivers by name in town. This was not my first shitty, car; I have never owned a new car, so I have had lots of experience with numerous car repairmen in two states in the past 20-odd years of car ownership. It is almost never good.
Being female, I have gotten all manner of condescending, patronizing, and downright mean behavior from repairmen. I remember once I had a car with some kind of weird congenital brake problem that nobody could figure out. The brake pads would wear out faster on the inside than on the outside. Nobody knew why. However, when I described this issue to repairmen, they would roll their eyes and sometimes tell me to my face that I was crazy; that was impossible and that my brake pads were fine. Then, 3 weeks later the inside pads would wear out, the calipers would freeze up and I’d have to pull over and take my car to the nearest repair place only to get a lecture along the lines of “honey, didn’t your daddy tell you have to get your brake pads replaced when they wear out? Sweetie, you should have your boyfriend drive your car sometime. He’d know what to do.” This scenario happened at least 3 times.
Because of my lifelong bad experiences with car repairmen, I have developed this crazy condition, where anything revolving around auto mechanics makes me really agitated and anxious. I tried to learn about cars, so I would sound knowledgeable, but obviously I would never know as much as a repairman, so if I tried to demonstrate my knowledge, the repairman would engage in a one-upping war until he won (which wasn’t hard, truthfully. I know about brakes, but that’s about it). So, even thinking about dealing with car mechanics is one of the few things that fills me with a special cocktail of anxiety, fear, apprehension and rage all bundled up into one little ball of me not wanting to deal. Thus I avoid car repairs if possible.
Wednesday, after waiting a year and a half, I finally got the windshield replaced on my car, because it needed it to pass inspection. I had taken it to shady places before that passed it with the crack (I had bought the car with the crack in the windshield), but the last place gave me the big red R rejection sticker. I had been driving around with a big red R for about a year and a half, yet only managed to get 2 tickets. When I took my car into the inspection place, I learned that In the time it took to save up the money to get the windshield repaired, more things broke that would render the car uninspectable (not surprising, since, made in 1999, my car is almost old enough to drive itself). So, I forked over a zillion dollars and had them fix all the things. Upon driving home I noticed that the car smelled like weird exhaust, and rattled and vibrated really loudly.
Here’s where my brain started freaking out. First of all, I was filled with rage for having been screwed over again. Then I searched for ways I could live with it so I wouldn’t have to talk to the repair people again. Then I thought “maybe it’s nothing. Maybe I am crazy and I’m just hearing things.” I agonized about this whole thing for far too long.
In the end, I took the car back, explained it to the people, and they fixed it for free (something needed tightening), rendering all that angst pointless. The place where I take my car is actually really cool, and that’s why I’ve been going there for years. Why all the angst? I don’t know. I need a support group or something. Geez. Now I am beating myself up for being such a wimp about the whole thing. This may be a sign I should just get rid of the car!