Whenever I walk into a garage, a transformation occurs.
Instead of being an intelligent and articulate woman, anything I say sounds bizarre, and anyone I’m saying it to peers at me as though I just offered them a snot sandwich. Imagine a six foot 20 stone bouncer walking into a dress shop and asking for something in pink silk with an empire line. It’s just…..implausible. And because it’s implausible the staff at the dress shop can do no more than splutter: “Excuse me?” whilst gawping and sniggering. So it is with me and the motor vehicle industry.
Because I know this happens, every time I take my car to be fixed I am overtaken by a blind panic. I am completely unable to explain why I’m there. It’s a truly pathetic sight.
For about a fortnight my car has been making the most atrocious noise, and I can tell I need to take it to a garage because I can no longer mask the noise by turning up the radio. (This is an official test you know. Yes it is. Oh stop arguing.) I walked onto the garage forecourt shortly before my brain put itself on ice and my tongue grew twice its usual size.
“Can I help you Madam?” send a person in dirty overalls.
“Um, errrr, um….. um?” was my inarticulate and somewhat unhelpful reply.
The overalls pointed at the car. “Your car?” they enquired, perfectly reasonably in the circumstances.
“Um, errrrrr, um. Ummmm….” Pause. It is my car, and this is something that I definitely know. I seem to be unable to impart this information to overalls.
“What seems to be the problem?” Overalls is still trying to be helpful but is starting to tire of the blank panic. I see this, which makes me panic all the more.
“It’s making a funny noise!” I yelp, unhelpfully. Overalls rolls his eyes and tries to remain calm. Minion overalls are now peering out from behind various deconstructed vehicles. One of them is muttering with a smirk. I am moments away from one of them suggesting that I “might have trouble with my big end” before bursting out laughing. More panic.
“From anywhere in particular?” Overalls again.
“The wheels! The ones at the back. But I’m not sure.”
There follows some kind of man talk about how Overalls never touches cars with electronic handbrakes because of the requirement to use some sort of special machine that he appears to have but is not willing to employ. At least I think that’s what he said.
“It might not be the wheels!” I whimper, helpfully.
More eye rolling. Overalls takes the keys off me (I swear he almost pats me on the head) and then drives the car; for about three meters. He gets out, looking appalled and tells me that he cannot believe I am actually driving this car without dying, and he is definitely not letting me drive it away, even though he hates working on these sorts of cars. He glowers, and sends me home.
The next day Overalls rings and tells me to come and collect the car. When I arrive, he points out that the noise of metal scraping desperately against metal is an indication that one’s brakes are unwell, I should probably bring the car in when I've worn out just the pads, not the discs and bearings to boot. Oh and by the way, bald tires are considered a little slippy to drive on. Apparently Overalls does a good line in sarcasm.
He relieves me of £900, waits till I’ve recovered from my fainting fit, and sends me on my way.
All of which goes to prove the truth of number nine on my “List of Rules to Live Your Life By”: