I don’t know the first hoot about cars, how to fix them, or even how to tell the service dude what I want done. Guys are born with this knowledge. It radiates from their pores as though they were born with a 50/50 mix of blood and oil.
Yes, I know how to change my tires and have done so in the past. I even changed my headlight once. And while I was very proud of the end result, the work in progress was a tremendous feat that involved pages of instructions, hours of dedication, and mountains of resolve. But I did it.
I’ve changed out my own fuses, and replaced my own wiper blades. I’m not afraid, so I know that’s not the problem.
So why is it I can’t order a simple car part without sounding like a complete dummy?
In my exact same set of recent circumstances, a guy would have driven straight to parts place, parked, walked in with confidence, and had the following simple yet effective conversation with the parts clerk:
“Windshield wiper sprayer.”
“Hose or motor?”
That’s it! No explanations and no flourish.
- Drive slowly around the dealership twice looking for the parts place.
- Try to decide if I want a sandwich from the McDonald’s across the street before or after I get the part I need.
- Finally decide during my second trip around the dealership that I’ll just wait until later.
- Stop and ask for directions, realizing after they’ve been given that I’m only a few feet away from where I need to be.
- Enter gingerly into the man-cave and duck as if bats are going to fly overhead.
- Watch out for grease on the doorknob and don’t touch anything else.
- Stand in the middle of the floor looking around until I see what must be the parts counter.
- Approach the parts counter and get directions to the real parts counter ‘over there’.
- Wait patiently until I’m noticed by the parts clerk and acknowledged.
- Introduce myself politely.
- Explain that the thingy that makes the sprayer work on my windshield wiper washer thing has somehow come unattached from something and that the dude who’s going to fix it said I should show the parts clerk which part I need because he made a point to show it to me so I’d get the right thing.
- You need the hose. $13.95.
- Explain again that he should probably come and look because I’m not supposed to get the whole thing just the one thing, only I’m not sure what it’s called so I don’t know what to ask for.
- Ask him politely to come and take a look.
- Ignore his protests and drag him outside to look, and while I’m out there retrieve my purse from the front seat and adjust the rear view mirror.
- Try to pull the hood release and pull the brake release instead, only my emergency brake wasn’t set so it didn’t do anything.
- Finally get the hood unlocked and then spend three or four minutes trying to release the latch and get it open, avoiding grease the best I could.
- Raise the hood and point out to him what I need.
- You need the hose. $13.95.
In addition to the $13.95, I probably should have offered to buy him a sandwich from McDonald’s just for having to put up with me. I got what I needed, though, and later that morning my car was fixed. Now all I have to do is push in that thing on the end of one of the levers, you know, that doo-hickey, and it works just fine.