Thankfully it doesn’t happen often these days, but I’ve had my share of car trouble through the years. I’ve never really driven a junker in the classic sense, but have had older cars, and also owned a Chevy Blazer for a while. So, I’m familiar with the concept. I’ve been stranded on the sides of roads, paid four-figure repair bills, and nearly been driven to a nervous breakdown by the frustration of it all.
And I used to return to work, and tell everyone about my latest “adventure.” You know, back when I didn’t know any better — when I was young and dumm. Nowadays I tell very few people about such things, because I know their reactions are likely to be… unsatisfactory.
I’m not sure what I’m hoping for, exactly. But when the roles are reversed I always say something along the lines of “Oh, man. That sucks. Is everything OK now? Anything I can do to help?” That last part is optional, depending on who I’m talking with. If I feel like there’s a possibility they might actually take me up on it, I leave it off.
But I try to listen, and react in a sympathetic manner. I’m far from perfect, but that’s generally how I handle such things. Unfortunately, my approach seems to be rare. It happens, but not often.
Today I’m going to attempt to list the most common (and annoying) reactions to news of car trouble, and you guys can help remind me of the ones I’ve left out. How’s that sound? Good, let’s go!
These are the people who are just waiting for you to take a breath, so they can begin talking. And it usually starts with, “Oh, that’s nothing… this one time…” And they’re off and running on some long-winded story that takes place in the summer of ’87, featuring their cousin Bumpy and a blue El Camino, or whatever the fuck.
“That’s nothing” is the part that’s truly offensive. The rest of it is just narcissism, or something similar. These folks go through life broadcasting, and never receiving. Know what I mean? Certain words or phrases act as triggers, and it sets them off on yet another story, in which they’re the star. They have no interest in hearing about your situation, it’s simply a jumping-off point for them.
Live exactly like I do
These people listen to two sentences of your story, begin shaking their heads in exasperation, and say, “I don’t know why you don’t just use my guy…”
There’s a hint of blame in there, which is aggravating, but also a deep-seated need for everybody to live exactly the way they do. Have you met people like this? They get irritated if you shop at a different grocery store, use a different insurance company, or take your car to the “wrong” garage.
Their guy is always the best, bar none. And you basically had it coming, because you made rogue choices, and didn’t pattern your life after Patty’s in accounts receivable, or whoever.
The DIY guy
There’s a lot of smugness and judgment in these people. They like to roll their eyes and act like you’re a ballless pussling for not just shimmying underneath your vehicle, right there on the side of Interstate 81, and fixing everything yourself.
It’s always a “simple fix,” followed by a mocking sing-songy breakdown of the procedure: “Just drop the differential, bore-out the Larsen box, re-gap the plaxometer…” Etc., etc.
I don’t know anything about cars and how they work, don’t want to know, will never know, and couldn’t give a single apostrophe-shaped shitlet about any of it. And if you think I’m going to wedge my heft underneath my car, and have both my legs run over by a tractor trailer hauling lawn furniture, you’re out of your goddamn mind.
You can take your Larsen box and ram it deep, and on a slant.
The theoretical bad-asses
These folks wait until you take a breath, then jump in with “Well, I’ll tell you what I’d do…” And it’s all bad-ass from there.
They’d get a lawyer and sue somebody back to the stone age, or go down to the garage and beat the shit out of a few people, or drive the car in question “straight through the front doors” or whatever.
There are lots of folks who like to spin these theoretical tales, based on your current situation, in which they portray themselves as an action hero, straight out of a 1980s buddy-cop movie.
The implication: You’re being a wimp, and should be more bad-ass, like the theoretical me.
There are others, like the Not Enough Empathy guy. They say things like, “Yeah, that sucks. …Did you see the new It’s Always Sunny last night?” Or the Wet Blanket dude: “Ooooh, that sounds bad. That’s going to cost you thousands and thousands…”
Help me complete the list, my friends. Use the comments link below.
And I’ll see you again next time.
Have a great day!
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