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The Simplification of the Automobile

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On: Fri, Sep 13, 2013 at 5:11PM | By: Karen Cook

The Simplification of the Automobile

Why do men make things so complicated? For example, I asked my grown son what makes my car go. He launched into an explanation with words like internal combustion, pistons, torque, and flywheel. I asked my husband the same question and got what he called a “simple explanation” with words like spark plugs and gas fumes.

But I know better. It’s much easier than all that. You put your key in the ignition, turn it, and the car goes! Easy peasy. I admit I don’t know all the technical jargon. I do know basically how the engine in my car works, but ask a man a simple question, especially about cars, and generally he will pause, think a moment, presumably about how best to explain something that is very hard to understand and then begin speaking as if to a 5-year-old, while still speaking a language that is completely unnecessary and incomprehensible.

How about car repairs? On this subject my husband began to tell me about “self-diagnostics” and treating symptoms to eliminate causes. It sounded like my car needed to go to a doctor, not a mechanic. Again, too much information. I knew all I needed to do was hand him the keys and, voila, my car would be fixed!

Some of the names of things in cars are misleading as well. Take the “brake”. Obviously from the verb “to break”. If it’s broken, it doesn’t work. I don’t want that part of my vehicle not to work. It should just be called the “stop”. The steering wheel is named appropriately, as is the windshield. Just call the pedals gas, clutch, and stop. Much easier.

Now I know there are men who know nothing about cars and women who know everything. This is a broad generalization, but in my small survey group the numbers show that men are apt to make cars more complicated than they really are. Mechanics take advantage of this when dealing with a woman. A roll of the eyes, a long sigh, a doubtful demeanor, and your customer is not as likely to argue over the bill. Add an intricate explanation and she assumes it was “hard work” and feels lucky it could be fixed at all.


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