A guide to masculinity: The car service tales

I had to visit a car service facility recently because my blue dragon has been showing signs of anxiety and old age, maybe a bit of dementia, giving me warning lights when everything should be fine. Ideally this wouldn’t be the first thing that I’d do in any given morning, but there I was, in my black hoodie and jeans approaching the “service reception”. The guy asked me about the problem and called me Mr. Imalexnowsurname, until he asked if I was going to go back to work and I said I’m a PhD student, so he proceeded calling me “my friend” – does your car have any damage my friend? (no, it didn’t)

I feel so unbelievably uncomfortable around dudes that know their ways around cars. It’s so foreign to me, and although I am not completely clueless (I have a basic understanding of how a car works and what I will find when I open the trunk of mine), I can’t not seem like a total and utter noob when it comes to visiting places like that.

I don’t know if it’s the general music videoclip setting, with the greasy vibe and the muscular boys in dirty overalls, the way people talk to you and to each other, or the constant feeling that everything is going to go slow motion and a woman in a bikini will make an appearance any minute now – I don’t know man, car service facilities are intimidating.

I always feel like I should know more about cars, know more about the way men associate with each other using that knowledge. Like I should go to a car service and have an opinion about what my car needs, whether it’s correct or not. I have been witnessing behaviours like that my whole life, with the close males in my life that seemingly possessed some kind of “male-only car knowledge”, which in reality is just a facade because if you are a man, you have to know about cars, and especially, your car.

What is fascinating is that, while I was growing up the person who actually knew their shit around cars more than anyone in the family was my mother. However, her opinion was mostly dismissed by more powerful, and male members (and non members for the matter).

I’m pretty sure that if I grew up as a “son”, the amount of car-teaching I would get from my father would be at least double the amount I got as a “daughter”. Which, too bad for him, because now I am a son, and an unprepared to talk to car service people son. (Disgraceful)

That is to say, I’m really not that oblivious. I just feel like I am, because I was conditioned to be like that. And it always bugs me to think that something as insignificant and ubiquitous as freakin car stuff “knowledge” should be gendered and gatekept. Don’t want to even begin to think about other, more important stuff.

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