Cars = Freedom?

When I was a little kid, I always thought that cars equalled freedom. On some level, I still believe that – there’s a certain sense of convenience that I can’t help but associate with feeling unburdened. Over the course of my adult life, though, I’ve gradually come to realise that freedom and convenience are not one and the same. In fact, convenience can sometimes curtail freedom, as I discovered last winter when my car wouldn’t start.

What I mean to say is that I realised I’d become overly reliant on the convenience of my nice car, and unable to move through the world without it. In a sense, I’d effectively reduced my freedom by attaching my ease and comfort in life to the functions of a material object. And I’d made that material object a car, of all things – one of the material objects most likely to conk out when you least expect it. Good choice, idiot.

There’s also all the costs involved in car ownership – they tend to diminish the impression of freedom, too. The open road is worthless if you’ve got a busted tyre or your brakes aren’t working. Sure, you can get it fixed, but you’re at the mercy of your mechanic for brake repair. Moorabbin area locals, you’re probably familiar with this old chestnut. It’s not that hard to get your car to a mechanic, but it’s also a big drain on the old time and money. It’s a burden, not a ticket to freedom. 

Look, I’m not saying it’s not worth having a car. I’ve still got mine, and I love it. I just don’t associate it with freedom anymore, at least not by my former whimsical standards. Arguably, there is a certain freedom in being able to book car servicing and maintenance. Bentleigh mechanics are good for this, and I’m happy to use my hard-earned money to pay for their services – provided that it’s something I’m choosing to do, rather than an obligation I’ve bound myself into by necessity.

Read More

L-Plate Adventures

Turns out, the Easter long weekend isn’t the worst time for your kid to practise their driving. I was pretty against taking Janice out on the road when she first mentioned it, as I’d been looking forward to kicking back outside the steely grip of traffic. But I’m happy I agreed to it because, by Monday, she’d gotten a lot of hours in and improved her driving game significantly.

One of the adventures we managed to have together was having a flat tyre. Ringwood auto centres are plentiful, but most of them were closed due to the public holiday, so we had to DIY it. Luckily, I always keep a spare in the back and know roughly what I’m doing, and we were able to pull off a successful tyre change. I think it’s good for Janice to experience this. I mean, even if she still doesn’t know how to do, she won’t freak out as much if something like this happens down the track.

I’m always encouraging the kids to keep a cool head under unexpected circumstances, as I believe that that’s the best state from which to solve a problem efficiently. As well as during roadside tyre changes, it’s also a good way to be when seeing a mechanic for car servicing. Ringwood mechanics have been pretty good in my experience, as far as costs and things go, but it’s still handy to have a cool head on your shoulders.

All that aside, the sooner Janice can plow through her logbook hours and get on her Ps, the better for everyone – myself included. This thing is way more of a marathon than it was back in my day, let me tell you. I’m happy to teach my daughter to drive and all, but really, it’s a bit much. I don’t know what people are supposed to do if they don’t have two parents who can drive and both have the time to help.

Read More

Illusion of Omniscience

What do you call someone who knows absolutely nothing about cars? You call them… well, me. At least, you do if you are me, which presumably you’re not, but you know what I mean. Regardless, it’s just come to my attention that I’m extremely reliant on auto specialists to make my car go.

As much as this is basically normal (the greater part of the world’s population not being motor vehicle experts), it still stings me a bit. That’s because I pride myself on my intellectual self-sufficiency, which I’ve honed to a point that it covers most areas of my life. I mean, that’s the impression I’ve somehow arrived at, and it’s started to unravel ever since it occurred to me that I have no idea about anything to do with auto work.

I’m clueless about all of it, from changing a tyre to auto electrical. Brighton mechanics seem to know all of it, and it’s making me feel extremely uncertain. I thought I was the local authority on just about everything, but this falls outside the domain of my knowledge.

Look, I get that I’m being a bit weird about this, but I’m going through a weird time. Since turning 18 a couple of months ago, my status as a gifted polymath seems to be disintegrating before my eyes. It’s making me think that perhaps the people in my life have been overly forthcoming with praise for my abilities, which clearly aren’t as all-encompassing as I’ve been led to believe.

In my defense, this is the first time ever I’ve had reason to book car servicing. Brighton service centres probably operate in much the same way as those in other places, and the mechanics that work there probably have roughly the standard amount of knowledge for someone doing their job. Similarly, I probably have the standard amount of knowledge for an 18 year old who has been raised on intensive book-learning.

That doesn’t mean I feel good about this, though.

Read More