My ignorance when it comes to cars is so deep that getting an MOT feels more like a test of me than of the car. I arrive and almost immediately have no idea what’s going on. I don’t know who I’m supposed to be talking to. Where I’m supposed to stand. Who to hand the keys over to. Do I hand the keys over? Do they expect me to come back later or hang around? No one really says much to me and I stand there looking awkward. I’m out of my element.
After a time I’m ushered into a viewing area/waiting room, and I stand there surrounded by mechanics and middle-aged cockneys talking about cars, their mothers and their health.
“Yeah well they can do all sorts with your heart nowadays can’t they”. Yes indeed they can.
The point is I’m terrified they’re going to say there’s loads of stuff wrong with the car, fail it, and whack £400 on the bill.
“Yeah so you needed a new injection valve and wheel sprocket. That’s £80 for the parts and £300 for labour. Oh yeah and call it £20 for the washer.”
What can I say to that. I can’t admit that I haven’t got a clue of what’s going on around me. So instead I stand there trying to look like I really know what everything’s all about, giving off an air that says “Just try to rip me off and I’ll know in a second”.
The problem is that after 15 years of life my car looks like it’s going to fall apart at any moment. It looks so knackered that I’m almost reluctant to put it in for its MOT in the first place. At 70mph down the motorway the steering wheel shakes and vibrates like a pneumatic drill. The windscreen washer sprays out at an angle which completely misses the windscreen, going over the top of the car spraying the windscreen of the car behind. The passenger gets a nice draught of air down their side where someone once attempted to crowbar their way in; and failed. And the front of the car is covered in dried cement from the time I came back to find that builders had built scaffolding around my parked car, and carelessly threw their cement around like it was Art Attack.
As I wait, peering out the window of the viewing room and watch the mechanic and his mate stare at various parts of the car in amusement, two of the Men leave the room talking about a recent funeral, leaving me with one hardened-cockney and his meaningless banter. He may as well be talking a different language.
“Sounds like their blowing the cobwebs out d’unt it. Only braught it owt the garage this morning. Found out I needed new O’s for it though.”
I nod and smile in bewilderment as I feign understanding.
“Yeah, needed new O’s. Typical I’nt it. It was fine last week then this mornin it needs new O’s”
“Yeah typical isn’t it” I offer in echoed response, when what I should really say is “I haven’t got a clue what you’re on about mate!”
And then we sit in sustained silence until he leaves to check on his car.
Eventually the mechanic comes in and says “Ok, so my friend” (I’m his friend, everything is going to be alright) “your car actually looks in really good condition. I mean apart from a little minor rusting and that weird windscreen washer” (shit he’d noticed) “it looks fine.”
I’ve got to say I’m pretty smug. Damn right the car is fine. Of course it is. I mean look at this baby. And so I pay the man in cash, get into the car and reverse out of the centre in one swift move, with one arm behind the passenger seat and the other hanging out the driver side window. Slick as shit and road worthy for another year!