Much the same as it is with sports… I am utterly lost when it comes to understanding cars.
Unlike sports though, I find this particular knowledge gap to be a bit odd since I consider myself to be fairly skilled when it comes to most things mechanical. I mean, I am not exactly MacGyver but I can usually take things apart, clean them and put them back together without breaking them (much).
But with cars… this is very, very different.
For the most part, I feel just as retarded around car enthusiasts as I do around rabid sports fans, but in some ways it’s even worse; I certainly cannot regurgitate each players name, position, performance statistics, police record, favorite recreational drug, etc., but given a little time watching a game I can get the gist of how it works.
With car enthusiasts though… I really haven’t the foggiest clue what the hell they are talking about. I have been a happy user of a car of some variety since I was 17 years old, and yet if I hadn’t stumbled across the handle that opens the hood and actually seen the engine for myself you could probably convince me that my car was powered by Scottish gnomes that work (or don’t) for booze…
*Craig steps on the gas pedal…*
Angus: If ya think ay’m gunna push yer feckin’ cairt up anither brae ye’kin kiss mah wee little bahookie!
*The car sputters*
Craig: C’mon you stupid hunk of shit… move it!
*Craig steps on the gas harder…*
Angus: Ach! Ya’ daft basturd! Git it throo yer thick noggin’! Isna gunna happen!
*Check engine light goes on*
I wish this were as far-fetched as it seems.
Perhaps some background will help convince you.
My current car is in the ninth year of it’s miserable tortured existence with me. I consider it “tortured” because although it only has 36,000 miles on it, it looks and sounds like it was the loser of several demolition derbys. I attribute this to the fact that in those nine years I have only rewarded the car with “maintenance” when it has vigorously and loudly complained for long periods of time.
For example, I remember several years ago when it started to make a kind of banging noise; the kind of noise you associate with a stereotypical gas-guzzling jalopy of a car. Using my intimate knowledge of the workings of an internal combustion engine, I instantly recognized this noise as “bad”.
I deduced that the longer I waited, the worse the damage would be, and thus I knew that I hadn’t a minute to waste. So, I brought the car into the repair shop after only 2 months, and subjected myself to a very uncomfortable conversation with the mechanic. They always assume that since I have a penis, I must know how a car works. This is basically how that exchange sounds to me:
Me: My car is broken. It’s making a banging noise. Please fix it.
Mechanic: When was the last time you rotated the flanges on the carburetor?
Me: I, um…
Mechanic: Are the pistons synchronized with the distributor?
Me: I don’t…
Mechanic: C’mon man! Speak up! Have you calibrated the gear ratio of the alternator?!
*I start to cry*
This is why I avoid mechanics.
To make matters worse, when I came to pick up my car, the mechanic informed me that there was no oil in the car — not a single drop — and that he had “fixed” my car by simply adding some. He delivered the news with an expression on his face that I can only describe as a mixture of disgust and horror; the kind of look a good person would give a parent that they just caught beating a crippled child. In his mind, this kind of negligence was completely unforgivable… a black mark on my manhood record.
I’m sure that immediately after I walked out, he reported the event to the manhood authorities. Combined with my hatred of sports and distaste for beer, my record probably categorizes me as female; if I am ever apprehended I will probably have to turn in my testicles.
But, despite all this, I still have not made any real effort at all to learn more about how cars work. Any knowledge about cars that I have gained over the years has been purely accidental. That is… up until recently when I tried to add oil to my car.
A few weeks ago my car began to make that same banging noise again, and even I put two-and-two together to figure out that it probably needed some oil. So I drove over to my local auto-parts store to buy some, figuring… how hard could it be?
I entered the store and eventually found the aisle with the oil. And that was when I encountered problem #1: There are about 7 trillion different types of motor oil. Silly me, I thought this was going to be the easy part! Apparently walking into an auto-parts store and asking for “oil” is like walking into a coffee shop and asking for “coffee”. Anyhow, after asking for some help, which took a while because they couldn’t believe that a man was born without such knowledge, I bought some “5W30”, and a small funnel.
I left the store feeling pretty good; I had the tools I needed to make my car shut it’s whiny pie-hole. I walked confidently up to my car, opened the hood, and… that’s where problem #2 came up: Where the hell does the oil go?
I really wish I was kidding here. I spent no less than 10 minutes looking for a place to pour this oil, and could not for the life of me find it. I was probably about 30-seconds away from simply pouring it over the engine and calling it a day, but instead I resorted to sitting in my car and doing a Google search on my phone. I even watched a small video on “How to change your oil” on YouTube.
Using my new-found knowledge, I located the wily little cap (which had a picture of an oil-can in it, by the way) and I poured in the oil that my car so desperately needed. It took a few miles, but eventually the banging noise stopped, which made be feel like I had actually accomplished something in spite of all my stumbling stupidity.
And so, In the end, it all worked out; I got the right oil, and somehow got it into the right place in the engine. My car stopped it’s percussive complaining, and I don’t have to go to the mechanic again. And lastly, I learned a little something about cars, and thus get to keep my testicles a little while longer.