By Veronica Orozco @verozco
Translated by Juliana Achury (Craftisan Translations LLC) firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m an independent woman and proud to be. Even if I like guys calling first, opening the car door for me and giving me their jackets when I’m cold, my feminist side took over my life since my divorce, and living alone has brought along some household tasks that used to be performed by the man of the house: clogged pipes, light bulb changes, broken door knobs, and bed and table assembling. I’ve done it all that by myself, with no Y-chromosomes to rely on.
However, even if I “freed” myself from male tyranny, I’ve never felt like such a lady in distress in need of a knight in a shining armor more than the first time I took my car to the mechanic.
In the past, I was never interested in anything else about my car but its appearance and the amount of gas in the tank. More than once my brain went Homer Simpson on me –projecting dancing, plus accordion playing cartoons from the 30s- while someone tried to explain me how a car engine works, or what happened when the bearings break. If the car made a strange sound I would pump up the volume. Oil always replaced itself on time, tires never got worn out, and the break’s tune-up or wheel alignment happened magically.
But I got divorced without considering such small details. And so the day when the car started behaving oddly arrived. All of a sudden it stopped responding as fast as it used to. It was always anxious, like it was pissed at me. Plus it started to smell weird, like burnt. So here I go, lady in distress without the knight in a shining armor, facing the dragon – the mechanic – by myself.
I’m sure lots of women were raised by their cautious fathers, dads who trained them in car mechanics, advanced soccer knowledge and hunting skills for both flying and creeping bugs. In my case, being the last of five siblings, with a father who is 50 years my senior, his only additional teaching efforts consisted in trying to make me love bullfighting the way he did –he took me when I was seven years old and I haven’t completely recovered from the experience but that’s another day’s entry – and singing the Milk Cow’s song – which now strikes me as contradictory to the bullfighting thing. In his repertoire of things to pass on to me there was never any bit on information that was about household things, because, once we no longer lived together, most likely I would have another man of the house to take care of them.
Entering the mechanic’s garage was like going to Menland. Absolute cliché. Hundreds of feet around you couldn’t see any women. Among the men in there, an intelligible gibberish is spoken – that’s where I learned the word “bearings” – shirts go untucked and are open all the way down to the belly button. I also saw some butt cracks. I saw all of it surrounded by cars broken apart, decorative engine grease and badly Darío Gómez’s music playing on the radio at a low volume.
Menland could be described as the Chavo’s neighborhood, but made out of mechanics. Several open mechanics garage’s doors face each other and a center yard, filled with car parts, is in the middle. There was no room for my car so I had to park it on the street and walk, carefully sliding my shoes through the greasy floor. As the unexpected visitor that I was, I got more looks than I’d have liked to and a compliment coming from an audacious guy embarrassed me. My quest ended at Freddy’s garage.
Fredy, the mechanic, my dragon, my nemesis, my nightmare, turned out to be as adorable as a basket full of Labrador puppies. A dark-skinned guy covered in grease, 5’11’’ of kindness, a huge smile and a heart as big as his belly. He listened patiently to the description of my car’s symptoms without a hint of laughter and he walked with me to it.
“That’s the clutch,” he said after taking a look at the car. “Happens to turbo engine cars; those 180 horse power make necessary to use the TCS –Traction Control System, as Google later explained – so the excessive torque is less hard on the wheels, shortening the life of the clutch.” “So, you mean the left foot pedal is broken”? I asked. “Exactly” tells me Fredy with a smile.
I said my goodbyes to Freddy while he told me the car it’s going to be ready the following day. I go across Menland to grab a cab, but I’m not embarrassed anymore. It’s a stupid step for humanity, a huge one for my independence. Once again I turned into my own knight in a shining armor.