Automotive issues generally fall on the man. Putting on the snow tires, changing air filters and the oil is considered the domain of men. Although, as society moves farther and farther away from vehicles that can be easily maintained in the comfort of one’s garage (and let’s be real, a having a garage, or having one that isn’t a second basement, is drifting away from the norm too), vehicle maintenance is becoming a lost art regardless.
When I was single, I maintained my vehicles by taking it to a shop and letting a professional do the work. I drove in. I hopped out, sat in the waiting area, paid the bill and left. There was the obligatory peeks at different fluids and filters that required me to nod but for the most part, it wasn’t really a chore and no one – that I am aware of in retrospect – was actively trying to rip me off in terms of service.
During my first marriage, I maintained my independence as far as this particular man job went because my first husband really didn’t know much at all about cars. He could change the oil and tires, which was more than I could do, but we didn’t have a garage and one of his best friends, who was a mechanic, told me on the sly early on “Don’t let him fix anything. Ask me first.” Good advice that I took.
Now husband, however, is a man job professional. I really can’t think of anything that falls under the traditional umbrella of man jobs that he can’t do. Literally.
And so, I have been lazy. Don’t judge.
For all of my life, I have taken care of myself and everyone who fell under my protection. My late husband was a terrific guy, and he had his strengths, but taking care of us wasn’t one of them. I was okay with that. I like being in charge, and I am pretty bossy, so it worked out well.
But, I admit, when the opportunity arose to hand over the tasks that I have never been fond of, I took it and didn’t look back.
Today, I took the truck in for an oil change. It was in semi-urgent need. Husband is quite busy and won’t be taking much time off over the holidays, so I thought “I’ve got this”. Which I did because I simply called up Husband on the phone and had the kid at Jiffy Lube talk to him.
Seriously, how did I ever live without instant access to everyone I know?
Whenever the need arises for me to step up for oil changes, however, I am reminded all over again that most of what I know about the truck is just how to drive it. I don’t know where anything is on the dash that I don’t have to use everyday. I know little to nothing about the various settings for lights, for instance, and I forget from one time to the next how to pop the hood open.
Jiffy Lube Kid presented this and that dipstick or spot on a card for me to judge levels or colour of this and that fluid, but I honestly couldn’t tell you if they were fine or not. They appeared to hit the proper marks and have the required clearness, so I gave a Queen Elizabeth nod, and he seemed satisfied.
I can tell the difference between an air filter that needs to be changed and one that doesn’t but fortunately, Jiffy Lube never asks me to. They simply say, “This looks fine” or “This should be changed” and I give my royal assent.
Sometimes I think maybe I should pay more attention to these man jobs like vehicles and home renovations, but those thoughts pass quickly.
There’s very little about the routine chore aspect of life that’s so complicated that it requires a whole lot of stored knowledge. If I had to – like today – I manage fine. It’s an oil change. Jiffy Lube wouldn’t get too many repeat customers if it’s regular practice was to lie to people. I don’t need to know the ins and outs of differentials, transmission leaks and air tire pressure to be able to deal with issues as they arise. A lot of the information people needed to know about home and vehicle maintenance in the days of yore stemmed from the fact that many things were not as complicated as they simply were time consuming. And disposable income was not such that people could afford to have someone else do the work for them.
For me, the important thing is that Husband and I are – mostly – doing those things that we find acceptable personally. I am disinterested in renovations beyond “are you finished yet?” and he is fine with taking on the work required to update. And while he is happy never to step foot in a grocery store, I am good with being a personal shopper. Just as an example.
But it’s a curious thing, this distribution of tasks. What’s his and what’s hers. And how easily we slide into roles. Some would say this is conditioning, and they’d be right to a point. In my opinion, personality and mutual understanding plays their parts too.
I imagine Jiffy Lube Guy runs into people like me – barely interested in or aware of what is going on in their vehicles as long as they are running – all day long. Women and men.