27 September, 2014

Getting under the bonnet

I experienced an interesting incident the other day.

I had cleaned my new car and then, still on a roll, decided that it would also be a good idea to fill up the wash wipe and check the oil. I duly opened the bonnet and checked the manual in order to locate the wash wipe reservoir. This was the first time I’d opened the bonnet of my new car, and I really didn’t want to ruin things by putting water and screen wash in the wrong place, so I was taking the time to get it right.

While I was studying the manual, the dustmen appeared to empty the bins in our road. I don’t know if it’s just my perception, but I always get the impression that these guys like to be noticed. My impression was confirmed when one of them called out to me, ‘Do you need a hand?’ I smiled and politely declined. He followed up with: ‘Are you sure? My friend here’s a mechanic.’

‘I think I can manage the wash wipe,’ I replied, laughing.

All in good humour, of course, but do I really look that much in need of help? The car was parked in my parking space, in front of my house, so I clearly wasn't stranded. And it wasn't as if steam was billowing from the engine or something. If I had been male and in the same situation—studying the manual with the bonnet open—would the dustmen have offered their help? I doubt it somehow.

While I’d be the first to admit that I'm no mechanic, I do feel vaguely uncomfortable that just because of my gender it is assumed straight off that I can’t be competent in the car maintenance department...

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