Friday, 15 June 2007

Spare Tyres

I am generally indifferent to the allure of cars, even really flash ones. Although I might lust after someone else’s house, or their wine cellar, I just can’t get to squeaking point about cars in the way that a petrol head like Jeremy Clarkson does.

There are plenty of performance cars on the roads around here, which I presume must reflect their owners’ performance bonuses. But between the speed bumps, central islands and mini-roundabouts, I don’t see how they ever get the chance to ‘perform’ on their home turf (rather like their owners, I suspect).

The traffic calming measures in the area are designed to stop anyone reaching either third gear or more than ten miles an hour. Despite this, I managed to burst one of the front tyres two weeks ago, with an ill-judged manoeuvre through a chicane. The alarming gunshot noise made me think I was in the vicinity of the first ‘school-run Mum’ suicide, but when I pulled over, I realised that although the tyre was damaged, it was still possible to drive the car to the tyre fitters for a replacement.

Ever since I read an article about tradesmen who charge female customers more than men for the same job, I have veered between depressed supplication, and aggressive chippiness whenever I deal with a male ‘repairer’.

Sometimes I feel that I ought to trust in the innate decency of another human being not to rip me off. But then I am sure this approach invites a premium on my bill, since it makes me look as if I am too ineffectual to complain.

Other times I try and present myself as some sort of kick-ass broad who knows what I am talking about, so don’t mess with me. This is always a tricky approach with plumbers due to the risk of being unmasked as a fraudster if I confuse my stopcock with my spigot.

The deciding factor seems to be whether or not the tradesman reminds me of my Dad. If he does, I am happy to trust in the milk of human kindness. If not, then I launch into bolshie smartarse mode. Not exactly a scientific approach, I know.

Unfortunately, the man at the tyre fitters had eyes like a robber’s dog. He would not look directly at me, preferring to suck air through his teeth and shake his head slowly as he inspected the tyres. I was already squaring up to him mentally, even before he suggested that both front tyres needed replacing, not just the passenger side one that I had damaged.

‘Ah, not so fast matey, I know your game’ I thought, and declined his kind offer while smiling primly at him, to let him know that I am not just another female sucker he could rip off with unnecessary extra tyre sales. I drove away congratulating myself on my street-wise shrewdness.

Earlier this evening, H went out to pick up one of the kids, but came back in saying he needed to put the spare wheel on first, as the driver’s side front tyre has now gone flat.

He can’t understand why I really don’t want to take the car back to the tyre fitters on Monday.

As it is Friday night, I have opened a bottle of my favourite La Marca Prosecco (Ocado £5.99). This ‘party in a bottle’ is always great to drink on its own, but tonight I think it will go especially well with the large slice of humble pie I have to eat.


dulwichmum said...

I would love "a party in a bottle" lovely chum. Perhaps I will pop out and see if I can find one shortly. You make it sound so very inviting!


beta mum said...

We've had two flats in the last two weeks - the first when I had the car, the second (thankfully) when I was away for the weekend so cannot be blamed in any way At All.
Mike is now refusing to take stuff to the dump in HIS car, as he reckons it was nails left littering the road that caused the punctures.
Chicanes sound more fun.

jenny said...

Are you SURE the tire fitter didnt poke a hole in the other tire??? It's been known to happen!!
Knock your wine back, baby!! You need it!

Stay at home dad said...

I love the fact you didn't check the other tyre. Can be a giveaway!

The party-in-a-bottle would go well with the party-in-front-of-the-TV I am usually to be found revelling in...

DJ Kirkby said...

Lol! Just... Lol!

Omega Mum said...

Party in a bottle? Yes, always. Fabulous. Brazen it out with the tyre man and act mystified.

debio said...

You describe the approach options for dealing with garages so accurately - excellent stuff!

Akelamalu said...

No humble pie, go to a different garage and say 'this is hubby's car', mine's a porche!

mutterings and meanderings said...

Plan of action: send hubby to tyre fitters...

I think that legally, they are allowed to charge more once they have mastered the sucking air through the teeth thing...

expatmum said...

I suggest false moustache, beer belly cushion up the jumper, a few occasional and audible farts, and they'll be treating you like a man - discount and all - in no time!!!

Natural Blonde said...

Yeah, I get the same thing all the time. If there's one around I normally try and send a man or at least take one with me, or even have one on the phone just pretending to be my other half.

However, I find if I do try and question something, like the carpet cleaner, who was outraged that I questioned why for the third time running his quote was actually 30% lower than what he charged me having done the job, they stomp off in a hissy fit!!

Frog in the Field said...

My husband refused to go back to the Volvo garage after a row with them being imcompetant fixing our car. It came to light that he had put petrol in, instead of diesel. So..I had to go in to collect the car, AND pay the bill!!

The Good Woman said...

My hot tip is the withering look - don't SAY anything (ignorance can be revealed through words) - just give them the look and if they're ripping you off they'll usually reconsider...

Drunk Mummy said...

dear Dulwich Mum - there is always a party in every bottle - sometimes you just have to get to the end of the bottle to find it!

beta mum - the chicane does sound rather 'Schumacher' doesn't it. The reality was that I was only going about 15 miles an hour!

jenny - Wow! And I thought I was a hardened cynic! Cheers!

SAHD - I'm not sure I would know what I was checking for. Other than 'Yes, its a tyre.' It certainly looked like it had plenty of tread on it.
We are all party-in-front-of-the-TV animals!

dj kirkby - thank you, you are very kind!

omega mum and akelamalu - I did go back today to get the new tyre, and got the same guy. It was pretty easy to avoid eye contact, because the man is clearly incapable of it (thank goodness). There was not even a flicker of recognition from him. I suppose one old banger looks pretty much like another to him!

debio - thank you!

M&M - I think you may well be right about the air-sucking thing. They probably do refresher courses in it too, for the older mechanics.

Hello expatmum!
With the exception of the moustache (surely only a matter of time) I can already tick the other boxes. Roll on the discounts!

natural blonde - it is galling - and no-one does a hissy fit quite like a man who has been challenged by a woman!

frog in the field - eek! I hope he made it worth your while taking the rap for him with a bottle of your favourite fizzy!

thegoodwoman - your withering look sounds very impressive! I must practise in front of the mirror (or, better still, in front of the kids!)

Pig in the Kitchen said...

oh god, you've just reminded me that i need to get the car serviced before heading back to the's so hard to manage these garage types in another language!