I had better just start by stating that I’m not one of these obsessive car-haters who thinks everybody should travel everywhere by bicycle, scattering pedestrians in front of them like tourists in ‘Jurassic World’ when there is a containment failure. I actually very much like being able to drive a car. It’s more convenient than any other form of transport in the sense that it gets me from outside my house to outside the place I want to go to, on my own if I wish, without having to walk to the bus stop or breathe in other people’s germs while in transit. I can also use my car as a transporter for cats, people who aren’t well enough to get somewhere under their own steam, theatrical props and shopping. I can get in it and go wherever I want, such as Saughton Park in the spring [cue clumsy link to image].
I only hate cars when they go wrong. I’ve always hated technology and machinery when it goes wrong – I can remember going into huge temper tantrums as a teenager when the television went wrong, as it often did in those days. Of course when you’re a teenager a huge temper tantrum is never very far away.
My car has already been to three different garages as part of my apparently never-ending quest to find out what’s wrong with it. The problem as I see it is that car engines seem to be controlled by computer these days – have you tried switching it off and switching it on again? – so that whereas in the past you could probably fix small things yourself just by replacing the spark plugs or re-sealing the radiator with some special stuff a bit like chewing gum (my late father-in-law was the only person who knew how that worked), nowadays you are reliant on the computer diagnostics, which don’t seem to diagnose anything very much. The last piece of advice I got from the local Fiat garage was to wait until the extremely ominous ‘engine failure’ light came on and stayed on for two days, and then bring the car back to them. I didn’t tell them this, because I knew they weren’t listening, but the last time the ‘engine failure’ light came on and stayed on, it only did so for approximately two minutes before the engine completely stopped working, I came to a sudden halt in the car park of Pitlochry Festival Theatre, the car had to be taken away to Blair Atholl on a truck by the AA and then the engine had to be taken out and sent to Inverness. I don’t think I can go through all that again, even supposing I could get the car as far as Pitlochry.
I know why they weren’t listening, and there isn’t much I can do about it. It’s the same reason that they always point out to me that they’ve cleaned the car inside and out, and always forget to tell me what they’ve done to the engine. It’s because garage staff are apparently exempt from all the equality legislation that has been passed over the years, and (a) do not believe women when they claim to have something wrong with their cars and (b) don’t bother to fix whatever is wrong anyway because women don’t really need their cars after all, or at least they wouldn’t if they were in their proper place at home looking after somebody or other.
I didn’t know I had that rant in me! I realise now that the post should be headed ‘why I hate garages’. My car and I are really the best of friends…