Monday, February 04, 2013

750 Words: Car Crap

So I have to bring the car to the shop because the "low coolant" light is on and staying on.  I blew it off for awhile because the light would shut off for a few minutes, but now it won't.  It could be the cold and my not driving much lately, but there could be something wrong with the thermostat, too, which I hope isn't expensive.  Spending money on car repairs has always bugged me.  It's aggravating to pay for some piece of machinery that looks like an alien object but is so essential to something I need.  To boot, it's like spending money on the invisible.  It's not like I get to see it working or anything.  I suppose I could run the car and open the hood, but even then, I still probably wouldn't see much and it wouldn't make sense anyway.  This is all illogical, I know, but I'm a little better at dealing with it than when I was in my teens, struggling to make any money at all, only to find out that my wreck was going to cost me another forty hours of work to get back on the road.  Things are obviously better now because I don't have to take my last three dollars and spend it on gas for an empty tank--not that three dollars in gas would get you anywhere in this economy.  The other choice is to have a car payment on a car with a warranty, but we've got one car payment and that's plenty.  I dislike car payments, too.  Basically, I want a free car that doesn't require fuel.

Here are some other things that annoy me about getting the car fixed.  First, you have to decide whether you should risk driving to the repair shop or just get it towed.  I recently renewed my AAA membership, and my husband suggested I call the tow truck, but it seemed a little over the top since the car will most likely make it the few miles I have to go.  Besides, if you call AAA, it takes more time to get the car hitched up to the tow truck and complete the paperwork than it would to just take the gamble.  When AAA delivers the car without the driver, it's easier for the shop to drag its feet, and if it's a two second fix, you're left with no ride to pick up your car.  So showing up in person is kind of a necessity.  So okay, you show up.  More paperwork and describing the problem.  The diagnosis takes some time.  You can wait if you want or need to, which is okay if you have nothing to do and don't mind watching ESPN for a few hours.  Then, you could be told some ambiguous hunk of metal is broken and they need to order the part which won't come in until tomorrow.  The dealerships have a drive-you-back-home-you-poor-sap service, which is nice, but you're still stuck without a car.  You can rent one if you want to drop some extra money, but then you're spending even more for this invisible thing that you already resent. 

Some mechanics are sexist, which is unfortunate and less common these days, but it's true.  They see a woman come in and they're like, "Ha!  Let's repair anything over a year old!  She won't know the difference."  And considering this morning I couldn't even figure out how to unlatch the hood, they would be right.  As a woman, you might get a lot of bullshit jargon and explanations that these guys know are going right over your head even if you're nodding or happen to be someone who can and will call their bluff. Sometimes mechanics like this don't reserve that kind of game for women.  Any guy who looks like he's never changed his own oil is an easy target.  Most mechanics won't risk it, though.  A woman with a manicure is a lot more likely to get this kind of treatment than a man wearing a tie.  The man, after all, could be a lawyer, or work out or have MAFIA friends.  For some reason, sexist mechanics don't think this about women.

Fortunately, I don't have a manicure, am in jeans and a sweatshirt and sporting my best muddy boots.  So maybe I'll look like someone who has changed her own oil.  I probably do because I got grease under my nails this morning...while I was trying to get the hood open.
Post a Comment