I am not very good with cars.
It is not so much the driving that I have a problem with. I am alright at that. And truth be told I am pretty good at doing the other things that you should know how to do in a car. You know, like putting the windows down or turning on the radio.
No trouble at all.
The problems occur when I try to do underneath-the-bonnet type things. The sort of things my dad could do with his eyes closed.
A lot of people do. It seems like it is automatically ingrained in so many minds.
And this was proved recently when I was on my morning jog (this body doesn’t just keep itself) and passed a woman I had never met before, who was standing next to an obviously broken-down car.
I nodded at her in the time-honoured greeting and jogged by. But then she called out to me.
‘Excuse me, could you help me?’
Now chivalry (and John) is my middle name. So of course I stopped.
‘Could you help me with my car troubles?’ she asked. Innocently.
‘No. I don’t know anything about cars. I once tried to jump-start a battery but put the positive thingy on the negative bit and created a bang instead.’
That is what I should have said. But because I am a man, what I actually said was:
And so I went to look inside this lady’s bonnet (not a euphemism).
After having stood there for ten minutes with my hands on my hips going ‘hmmmm’, the car-lady (who I later found out was called Claire) asked me what I thought the issue was.
‘The issue is, I have no idea how any of this stuff works. I am just looking at an engine and making a “hmmmm” sound.’
Is what I should have said. Instead I said ‘Must be your alternator’.
I do not know why I said this. At that point in my life I did not even know what an alternator was.
(I do now. It is “an electrical generator that converts mechanical energy to electrical energy in the form of alternating current.” Thanks Wikipedia.)
‘Oh’ she said. ‘Can you just like, change that?’
‘Erm, sure’ I answered. Again with no reason to do so. And with that I proceeded to stick my arm into the car engine and just yank at things (again, not a euphemism).
I started to ask myself why I was doing this. I don’t usually do good deeds for no reason at all. And I was pretty sure I didn’t fancy her. (And anyway as a happily married man even if I did fancy her, I would deny it in an article that I know Kat reads.)
And then it dawned on me. I was trying to prove something to myself.
I was trying to prove that I could do all the “manly” things that come so easily to the rugged macho human male.
Because I am as much of a tough guy as Mr. T or Macgyver. And to prove it I was going to pull something out of a car engine and pretend to know that it was the alternator.
Not only that, I was going to look cool whilst doing it. So as I was pulling away (behave) with one hand, I used the other to get my bottle of water from my back pocket. And I took a swig.
In the process of drinking from my water bottle, I knocked the bonnet with my head. Making it come crashing down. Onto my still alternator-pulling other hand.
Causing me to scream in pain and fall to the ground.
As I lay the street with blood pouring out my hand. Claire looked confused.
‘Maybe you should just call a mechanic? Oh and a doctor whilst you are at it.’
Is what I should have said. And I did.
© 2017 – VIDA Magazine – Steve Hili