Cars, life, inanimate objects

To me mechanical things have personalities. I’m sure most people have had dealings with the printer that always seems to give problems when a deadline is looming, or that car that will not start when you are late. Common sense tells us that we botched using the printer/starting the car because we were in a hurry, but I don’t know…


When I first started working in the early seventies, I still lived at home, and rode to work with my mother in an old Renault TS. We used to call her the French Wench (among other things). I’m convinced that car had a sense of humour. Her pet trick was to cut out and refuse to restart. Not in a dangerous place, mind you, usually outside a shop or at a traffic light in the main street. She would sit there, immovable, until male help arrived. Whereupon she would purr into life. Said male help would smile knowingly while my mother and I smiled politely and muttered swearwords under our breath. Naturally my father (this was in the days when many people actually worked on their own cars. Many life-lessons learned while hanging over an uncooperative engine.) could find nothing wrong.


One day on the way home from work the car was running a little rough. It was a Wednesday, and a local racecourse always had races on that day, resulting in huge traffic problems. We lived a fair distance out of town, along a normally quiet road that was choked with race traffic. It would have been impossible to turn around and head back to town, so we pressed on, with the car sounding worse and worse. This was long before the days of cell phones, and we had no way to contact help. It was not at all the place to break down, but the Renault kept going, sounding like a tractor and barely pulling at all.


We made it home. Mother said that she thought the car was only running on two cylinders. Father said ‘Impossible!’ flung open the bonnet and commenced investigations. He took off the distributor cap, which broke into three pieces as he unclipped it. He always swore afterwards that the car shouldn’t have been able to run at all, and he had no idea of how the Renault got us home. And she still used to cut out on us when she felt like it.


Have you perhaps had experience of machines with a personality quirk? Do drop me a line and let me know.



About notewords

Guitarist, Music teacher, Writer
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2 Responses to Cars, life, inanimate objects

  1. All machines have a definite personality. New ones tend to be a little snooty, don’t you find? But once you’ve known a machine for a wee while, it has the odd spell of seeking attention just for the hell of it. They really don’t like being taken for granted. Cars are the queens of this performance and many is the time I’ve complained to some fella (usually the husband who knows all about these things) that such and such was happening, only for him to find nothing whilst the little madam of a car sits satisfied with itself, biding its time.

  2. notewords says:

    I’m so glad it’s not just me…

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