Sunday, October 4, 2009

Just a Thought

Some years back I owned a tiny Toyota Corolla station wagon. Cute as a button. The engine came from a Corolla sedan that had been rear ended by a truck--engine good, rear trunk bad--and I found the body from the comment of a passing stranger who said his neighbor had a shell of the same kind of car sitting in storage in his garage --body only, no engine, perfect.

As an aside, and just in case your wondering, the sedan was $35, and the station wagon body cost $90.

I owned that car for several years. One time, I went out to the car and it had two flat tires, front and rear on the same side. Another time the engine died and I and a friend had to push it up a hill (it was a tiny car). By the time I was done with it, it had an over-heating problem, and I had to drive with the heater on (use the defroster if you have to do this, to keep the hot air out of your face), in the dead of summer, and keep the speed under 55 mph, just to cool the engine enough for a one hour drive.

The engine was simple. No computers, electronic ignition, or fuel injection.
I used to do my own basic work. Oil, filter, pan, wrench. Feeler gauge, distributor cap, rotor, etc, spark plugs, wires sometimes, wrench, and rag. Blow the air filter out with the compressed air at the gas station.

I remember one day doing a tune up.
Finding TDC and setting the timing.
I mentioned this to a friend of mine.
A day later he showed up at my house with some electronic gizmo that I had never seen, heard of, needed, or wanted, to check my timing.
Me, being who I am, I let him do it. I remember thinking why does this guy have to rely on a machine to figure out if the timing is right?
He told me he was checking the dwell. Huh?
Then I remember him looking either surprised or sheepish, probably from relying on that unnecessary gizmo to tell me what I already knew, that my timing was fine--just a whisper from where that machine said it should be.

I was young and I thought my friend was kind of an a**, but not enough to do anything more than let his actions pass.

* * * * *

A few weeks ago, I started work with a new client. To get to his house you drive up a long, narrow easement, bordered closely by fencing on either side, past two houses, and park in a small space that doesn't allow for a turn around. The first time I got ready to leave, the men of the house came out with me and made several comments about people having difficulty backing up and running into the fence. Since I work from appointment to appointment, I was in a bit of a hurry to get to my next house. But the men kept hovering, commenting about the difficulty of backing down the long driveway. I tried to make placating, polite "I'm going now" noises, but then, as I felt pressed for time, and in an effort to move things along, I finally said, "Well, let's just see how I do" (an unexpected phrase for me), got in the car, and took off. At a fairly good rate of speed. Dead center. Nary a scratch. Backing up just a bit faster than expected, partially to allay their doubts but probably more just to show them.

* * * * *

Yesterday, T and I went for a bike ride. Somehow I dropped my chain going flat and slow over the Alameda bridge. So, I got off the bike, replaced the chain, and just as I was spinning the crank to make sure the chain was set, T pulled up and said, "Hey, that was fast." To which I replied, without thinking or hesitation, "You know, sometimes you guys treat us women like we're imbeciles." Really. I said that. And T laughed. Which is a good thing, because those words even surprised me.

But they got me thinking.
And I remembered years back to the car tune up.

And, after all these years, I finally wondered, do you think if I had been a guy doing the tune up, would this other guy have brought over his gadget, unasked, to check my work?


SWTrigal said...

I am still back on the part you tuned your OWN CAR? That is impressive N..I think men have it ingrained to help their know genetics and all..they can't help it.

Bones said...

Naomi, This will tick some of the women off but... There are bunches of women that can't (or won't) even hang a picture. My girls have absolutely no interest in anything mechanical.

ShirleyPerly said...

I agree with SWTrigal that many men think the "proper" thing to do is to offer help to a woman, even if none is needed. OTOH, some guys like to try to impress women by showing off their mechanical skills. I love that you knew how to tune up your car w/o the use of that gadget!

skoshi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Athena Misty, aka "GeekGirl" said...

@Bones: I can hang a picture. I use a shoe and whatever nail-like thing is around, so you take that back.
I remember my first car in college. I paid $60 for it and it didn't have a heater that worked. I lived in SD, javascript:void(0)too. Ah, good times...good times.