March 08, 2004


If you're me, you still call your daddy any time you have a car problem. I can explain the trouble to him in moron-ese over the phone (what does it mean when the car sounds like a Model T / smells like formaldehyde / idles like a vibrating chair / makes that grrraaarrrr noise...) and then he can troubleshoot for me so that when I finally call the mechanic, I can all nonchalantly say, "Uh, yeah, I think it's the timing belt" and act like I know what I'm talking about. It's also a good idea to get daddy to give me a price range, so that I know about what to expect.

So what's worse than feeling like a moron with the mechanic? Feeling like a moron mit dem Mechaniker. No matter how much/little I know about cars, I can't do any of it in German. I'm completely at their mercy here.

That may be why I just got a $157 oil change. Ouch.

Posted by Sarah at March 8, 2004 05:21 PM

My brother does all my car work now. But he taught me a trick that works in the US, i think. Wear a "Pep Boys" t-shirt when you go to the mechanic! It makes em think you know the lingo.

Posted by: annika at March 9, 2004 12:51 AM

Yeah, annika, but what happens when you DON'T know the lingo? :)

I actually used to know something about car engineering once upon a time. Constantly read and reread a book on the subject for laypeople (with tons of helpful pictures). But I never learned to drive. I use my two legs instead, and if I ever got injured or sick in a foreign country, I'd be "completely at their mercy."

Posted by: Amritas at March 9, 2004 01:45 AM

I can relate....something about a blond, female college student with liscense plates from 10 states away makes mechanics see dollar signs. Fortunately I have good friends with exceptional mechanical skills....but I still call my Papa.

Posted by: Beth at March 9, 2004 05:25 AM

Doesn't matter even if you do know what your talking about. I'm a female Automotive Engineer and they still treat me like an idiot every time I walked into a repair shop.

They think: breasts=car idiot :)

Posted by: Machelle at March 9, 2004 03:52 PM

Europeans can be mean in that way: I've never seen so many swindlers. Maybe I'm naive, but I can't even imagine an American doing that. Indeed and ironically, I remember a oil change place in Victoria, Texas actually giving a German family a *discount* because they were so distressed over problems with their rental car. I would have thought all this would have stopped with the introduction of the Euro. Back when I was in Italy for the first time, I paid some Roman cabbie the equivalent of 50 dollars for a 6 block cab ride because I didn't understand lire at the time.

Posted by: Jeremiah (Esotericus) at March 9, 2004 04:39 PM

Heh, I must also add this: even though I love Europe deeply (I study the Italian Renaissance for a living), I always have to fight an urge to fall to my knees and kiss the ground when I get off the plane after arriving home.

Posted by: Jeremiah (Esotericus) at March 9, 2004 04:46 PM

I just got a great deal on used cars that I wanted. It was tough making a choice which of the used cars to buy, but I did it.

Posted by: Marcy Frye at April 27, 2005 12:16 AM