Cars, engines, motorbikes & me

My first question is: why is it cars behave perfectly well when a man drives them, minutes after they have misbehaved when a woman was behind the steering wheel? I am asking because that is what my car does!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do you notice how pissed off I am from the amount of exclamation marks? Subtle? That’s me.

A couple of weeks ago, doing my job (taxi driver to mine and other people’s offspring), I stopped the car to let my younger son and his friend out. They were going to the gym. Because, you see, I convinced my son to get the licence for his “third hand” moped, only I didn’t think about his best friend and the fact he doesn’t have one…Anyway, I hadn’t turned the engine off and once they were out, I went to put the first gear in…well, it wouldn’t. I tried, over and over again, nothing. I also tried all the other gears, just in case I could manage to start in a different one, nothing. That’s when I noticed there was something called “elettrauto” on the other side of the road (sorry, Italian word for it, which, the translator says is a “workshop for electrical repairs”). Now, I had no idea what an “elettrauto” does but I knew it had something to do with cars. So, I decided I should go to ask if they could help. A man, would have died trying to solve the problem himself, not a woman though. We are much more practical, I didn’t have time to mess about and anyway, knew nothing about engines, so it made much more sense to go and ask about it to somebody who did. That took a whole 2 seconds to decide. Meanwhile, I had obviously turned the car off (I had to lock it, didn’t I?!!).

The man, not too convinced about it, came along and turned the car on and the gear went in, easy, of course…I got “the look”, you know, the one: “women”.  Well, I thought, next time it happens, I know I just need to let my car rest a little (:

A week later it happens again. This time I know what to do!! The car, having rested a couple of minutes, lets me put first gear in. Only, I realise, the problem isn’t going away, it wasn’t a one off, unfortunately.

When I call the garage, the one I got the car from and services it every year, they sound a little “I have never heard this one before” kind of attitude…Never mind, I am used to it, I am after all a woman (plus it has happened before, a few years ago, another of those strange defects MEN can’t understand and find!!).  So, today, having made an appointment, I take the car to Imola, a town about half an hour from where I live (I know, a man would have said so many miles from…etc. etc.). It all takes an hour and I am really happy because I thought I would be there for hours and wouldn’t have got anything done at home, etc. etc. They still don’t know what was wrong with it (if anything, they probably think) but they have performed this “spurgo” (bleeding/unblocking, sorry, not sure) and everything will be ok, and if it’s not, well, bring it back. Reassuring. I leave, quite happily, already thinking how many things I will be able to still do at home. After about 2 kms (well, possibly) the gears are becoming more and more difficult to change…oh dear….until I actually stop at the side of the road and I start thinking…. is it a good idea to go on? What if while I am driving they stop working? What would I do then? The scenario isn’t looking too good….I call the garage again. I have to wait for quite a long time, while they are going to connect me real soon to the required office. I decide it best to turn the engine off but not before I try to put the gears in again a few times, to make sure they are ACTUALLY hard to put in (this is how a woman ends up when faced with men’s world). They finally put me through and, of course, I have a hard time explaining the guy who just said everything would be fine, that it is not).

I turn my car around, because he wants to drive it himself, “to understand whether it’s safe for me to go home with it”. My plans for the afternoon and they newly gained hours at home, in the bin. Needless to say, the car behaves both with me driving there and then with him, during his test drive. Still, even if not convinced at all that it did happen, that the gears were hard to put in, he says I should leave it there for them to have a better look at the problem.

The problem… NOW I have a huge problem. Who is going to pick me up and take me home exactly??? Husband is abroad. My best and really only proper friend is at work. The taxi would cost a fortune, as probably, apparently, my car problem. Yes, because, for a car that hasn’t got a problem, the next step seems to be changing the whole f…ing clutch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I eventually realise if I make it to the main road, I can get a bus, the one my son gets every day to go to school (well, that’s kind of nice, experience his journey). The mechanic is willing to take me to the bus station…with my car, which continues to behave really well btw. Meanwhile, I have called my sons, to let them know about my troubles at hand and, the older one, has offered to come and get me where the bus stops, wait for it….with the other son’s moped!!!! I must explain here. First of all, we live in the middle of nowhere, or at least it feels that way, we only have two buses a day, one extremely early in the morning and one mid afternoon. The kms from the bus stop to home are about 5/6. No way I could get home, one way or the other. Son n.1 has a motorbike, but it is always broken. Son n. 2 cannot carry passengers (too young). This is why son n.1 offers to pick me up on son n.2 moped.

Anyway, where was I? The bus, yes, I had decided to get the bus. I get to the bus station only to find the ticket office closed and the machine that says “display doesn’t work”, which, in better words means “it’s broken and there’s no way, without seeing what you are doing on the display, you can purchase a f..ing ticket”. I go out and decide to ask somebody where’s the nearest place where I can sped my money on one is. I approach the stop and start noticing a rather strong smell of…stuff young people smoke, quite freely, quite obviously! I feel I am kind of entering a different dimension….a little Bronx and a little student territory. There’s an older man sitting there, quite scruffy looking, “why is he getting the bus and doesn’t travel in a car ” comes to mind. Next to him a boy, probably 16/17, clean looking. I decide to go for the cleanness and “I know what I am getting” boy. He is really nice, he even tells me at what time the bus is. See, young people are fantastic really!! (not sure which of the two WAS smoking the strong smelling stuff…

I run to get the ticket and back. A couple of minutes and my bus arrives. I sit down ( which apparently is something of a rare event in the morning, my son says). Bloody hell how hard are those plastic seats! Perhaps it’s been a while since a got a bus. My rear is used to much more comfortable seats, padded ones. I wonder if that means my bottom is not that padded as I thought?! That would be positive, wouldn’t it?!! I feel a little stuck up by then, not in good way…there’s certainly people out there who are not as comfortable as I am.

I finally get to my meeting place with son n.1. It takes a while to get seated on the thing, I am not really dressed for it, long coat with splits on the sides (I  am worried it’s going to get stuck in the wheels/engine/or whatever there is down there, with subsequent fall and death, or at least a ruined coat), hand bag, as in actual HAND bag, which I have no idea initially where to put (it ends up between me and driver), another set of bags I retrieved from my car which I use for the shopping at the supermarket (there’s an actual space under the seat for them!!). Last, I have to wear the helmet (n.2 son’s) and I need a hand to close it. Off we go.

Did I mention I am scared to death of 2 wheelers? I grab son n.1 in a way he can’t probably breathe , only after I told him the signal I might use if I want him to stop. What I am most afraid of are bends, you know when the bike needs to bend to one or the other side, dangerously close to the ground?!!). Well, of course the road to go home has nothing but lots of bends. I can’t see a thing, the stupid visor is getting steamed up, is it because of my hard breathing? By now it’s dark too and the extremely small two wheels we are sitting on ( you can feel every little bump, or are they just small stones we will slide on and end up in a ditch?) has bicycle lights as far as I can tell;  my hands are about to fall off because of the cold (oh my god, what if I can’t hold on to him anymore?!!). I keep a check on what he is doing and where he is going but, a after a while I think “I am supposed to move with him or we’ll loose balance and fall”, so I decide it best to stay right behind him and close my eyes. I do consider praying, only to realise I am not a religious person.

I got home, and him, both uninjured. Home sweet home. Well, I do wonder when my car will be ready and I will be able to leave the house again actually! Stupid “means of transport” (otherwise called cars)!

E.