About a week ago, I had to work up an immense amount of courage because I had offered to do something very scary and very unpleasant. That is, I brought my mom’s car in to get her snow tires off. I realize that most people wouldn’t find this terrifying, but most people don’t feel the way about cars that I do.
I have a very insecure relationship with cars. I’m scared of them because I don’t know anything about them, but I don’t want to learn anything about them because I’m scared of them. Any noise, bump or “funny feeling” that occurs while I’m driving a car is terror-inducing. What if it was the tire blowing out? What if the fuel line was just cut by a jagged stone sticking up from that pothole? What if the engine is possessed by a crazy demon that is trying to kill me? Etc. If you want to scare the crap out of me, just scream “WHAT WAS THAT NOISE??” while you’re driving with me and I will give you a great show (and probably crash and die in a fiery death, but you asked for it). Every minute of every trip, I just say “please don’t break, please don’t break” over and over until I reach my destination and somebody else can take care of the car that will probably spontaneously explode. WHICH COULD TOTALLY HAPPEN; I SEE IT IN THE MOVIES ALL THE TIME. And then when I do the owner of the car a favor by telling them that they have an “angry engine that could lose it at any moment,” they just look at me weird and remind me that it’s a brand new car and maybe I should just take public transportation next time.
The worst thing about my ignorance of cars is that it’s one of the only stereotypes that I fit COMPLETELY. I am a girl who doesn’t know a tire from a fender, a brake from a gear, a gurt from a lurt. See, now I’m making up names for parts of cars because I don’t know any. Honestly, my biggest stride taken toward understanding cars was learning how to use the cruise control. Naturally, going into the car repair place is terrifying because at any moment they could discover that I know absolutely nothing and charge me a million dollars for something that should cost fifty cents. And what’s worse, they could judge me.
I practice my “I am going to get the car fixed” speech about a thousand times before I go, and I live in a mortal fear that the repair people will ask me questions. “Hello,” I will say. “Iambringinginmymom’scartogetthetireschanged. It’sa2010hondainsight. Thetiresareinthetrunk.” Then they usually ask me something, and I have no idea what they’re saying, so I usually blurt out something like “Why yes, that is a car.” Maybe I can cobble together something a little better (after I ask for the question to be repeated), but I have to suppress the urge to be like “Do you want me to show you how to use the cruise control?” Then, thoroughly embarrassed, I hope to sink into the floor and emerge a big hulking guy in a dirty ripped shirt and oil stained hands that actually knows how to do car speak (because we were on the topic of stereotypes).
Unfortunately, this time, there was a hole in one of the tires, which the guy showed to me (AN HOUR AFTER ME JUST SITTING THERE). In response, I said something like “Yes, mmhmm, car” very smoothly. He then told me that they didn’t have the tire in stock. I just stared at him with an expression of horror while trying to pretend that this was normal and thank him for ordering it.
Stay tuned, folks, I’M GOING TO HAVE TO GO BACK THERE.