My car needs fixing. I’ve tried to ignore it, but red lights are flashing and RRrrrggffff noises are emanating from the engine. I have a sinking feeling in my stomach, because I am going to have to make THAT call. You know the one, the ‘boot licking’ call to the mechanic.
My mechanic is called Terry. Something weird happens when I call Terry. I revert to some sort of needy amoeba. I hang on Terry’s every word, laugh at his jokes, enquire after his health; all because without my car I AM NOTHING.
So I go through the ritual. Terry plays hard to get. He’s booked up for weeks. It’s only with pathetic, girly, wheedling and the-promise-of-cash-payment-hanging-in-the-air that I finally get a date.
A week later, I arrive at the conveniently nominated hour – half past crack of dawn. Terry’s perkily dressed in a beanie and overalls and eyes my car knowingly. He listens to my amateur diagnosis, avoiding any meaningful eye contact and sucking in his breath. (Past experience has told me that there’s a direct correlation between Terry’s sucking and the eventual size of my……bill.)
Terry takes my car keys in his greased mitt. He tells me he’ll give it a check and call me later. I hover anxiously, but Terry has already disappeared into the darkened recesses of the garage where-none-may-ever-dare-to-tread. I feel rejected. Am I just one more numberplate in his little black book?
I go home and the wait begins… All through the day I get calls. Loads of calls. Calls from tele-sales people, banks, relatives-needing-to-be-picked-up-from-the-airport, stranded children, everyone in fact BUT Terry. I am miserable. Should I dare call Terry but if I do will he get angry?
By day three I realise that Terry’s in no hurry. My willpower breaks, and I know that I am going to have to call HIM. I dial the number; my voice takes on a falsely casual tone “Hi Terry, it’s Kath, owner of the PT. I was just wondering…”
“Yeah look, I haven’t had a chance to check it properly, give me another day or so and I’ll call you back.”
So I go back to waiting. Life without my car has become meaningless. I have stopped going to work, started watching daytime TV and turned to drink. The kids wander in asking “how will I get to school?” but I ignore them, staring glassy-eyed at another episode of ‘Wheel Of Fortune’. My family and friends begin blocking my calls, in case it’s me again whining for yet another lift – and it is.
Finally, Terry calls “Bad news! It’s going to cost. Ballpark five grand, and that’s just for parts as I’ve got to get them ex Tenzing Norgay. Then there’s the labour, I’ve had to take the radiator out and it’ll be the devil to get it back in.” Terry sucks in his breath “you could always sell it, buy a new car” he adds helpfully.
Weeks pass. Public transport has not improved upon further acquaintance and I am tired of carting shopping home using only my arms. “The parts have not arrived yet ” explains Terry a month later. I think of Fed Ex, express mail and courier companies – apparently these things don’t exist in ‘garage world’. Bitterness sets in. I go to sleep dreaming up different ways I can kill Terry. I’m too far into this relationship to think of going somewhere else and even if I did there’d be more grief. Terry has me where he wants me all right.
Three months Later, Terry tells me my car’s ready. Giddy with excitement I rush round before he can change his mind. When Terry hands me my car keys, I am so relieved that I actually hug him, gushing “thanks, Oh thank YOU!” Terry grins and looks pleased. (Well he wouldn’t he? I’ve just given him my life savings.)
Naively I drive away thinking never again! But Terry knows and I know that sooner or later I’ll come crawling back.
Let’s face it I am in a relationship with my mechanic and in the scheme of things I’m the one that is always going to get screwed.