DIY Mechanics (or just anger management).

October 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

Today we finally took our car to the dealership to (hopefully) be fixed. This particular vehicle suffers from the most irritating fault; serious unreliability. It has an amazing tendency to chug along fine, then just die. you turn the key and…. nothing. Not even a half-hearted cough. This makes driving in rush hour traffic a pretty daring feat. As all humans have a tendency to do, we have conceived of several tactics that we are convinced help re-start the car. At first it was opening and slamming the bonnet as hard as possible, then it was jiggling random wires. We progressed to using a severed mallet head to tap (or bash) the starter motor, and finally and most amusing of all, shaking the steering wheel as violently as possible. This is somehow the most effective.  This week, car related stress has reached new heights and I cannot help but think about it in terms of all the reading I’ve been doing about technology and objects. I know that being furious with ones vehicle is hardly revolutionary, but it seems to be a human/object relationship right of passage that everyone experiences. The realisation that you are stuck, away from home with a tonne of metal that you can’t afford to get towed is grave indeed. The point I always come back to is that technology doesn’t owe us anything. The car, which we take care of and spend time with everyday, doesn’t feel indebted and therefore want to get us safely home before refusing to start. We can come up with all the affectionate nicknames we want (Marco, and the last one was Fifi) but we’ll still end up stranded in the supermarket parking lot, missing dinner reservations. Yet another personal example of the cognitive load and opportunity cost we shoulder to engage with gizmos (I’m sure that a 1997 hatchback counts as a gizmo, it has a computer in it after all).


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