Yesterday I started up the car and it made a ‘popcorn popping’ sound. A quick holler to my hubby and a scan under the bonnet revealed a frayed belt. Now, there are two belts under the lid of my wonderful blue Nissan. One runs to the engine and the other to the alternator and air con. My husband tried to explain the difference. The former, if it snapped, would seriously damage the engine. Hundreds and hundreds of pounds of damage. The second would stop the lovely cool breeze in the car and, most importantly, prevent the battery from recharging.
The frayed belt in my car does the latter. Not worried about the air con – I can always open a window. Now, I don’t see the battery not charging as a real problem. I mean, once the car’s started it’s completely unnecessary, so I’d be able to get to the garage and get the belt fixed, right? Wrong, apparently. First, it isn’t a quick fix with a pair of nylon tights or stockings as in the days of old. Second, cars nowadays need some battery power all the time (still don’t know why). As a child I was brought up to never question the male decision on all things automechanical. Growing up with uncles for mechanics helped firm that impression beyond the powers of adult cognisance and now I am left floundering when exposed to a throbbing V12. Okay, I learnt loads of terminology because it is, apparently, sexy and I’m as susceptible as the next gal, but I haven’t a clue what 90% of it means.
Where was I? Oh yes, the belt. Well, I called out the RAC (RAC, Fire, Police – it really brightens up those children-filled summer days) and he slipped the belt round so I could see the frayed edge. To my complete horror I saw it was hanging on by the merest thread. Unfortunately he didn’t have the correct belt to replace it (why do you always need a special part?) and so the opportunity to have him prone on my drive, at my mercy, was lost. However so was the opportunity to go food shopping and I was not displeased with that outcome.
My next action was to call on my buddy, who is also my mechanic, and download him some sexy pictures of my naked engine with frayed belt (guys dig snapped garters, so team it with an engine and they get all hot and bothered). Of course, he immediately offered to come round and fix it – result!
Later that day my hubby and said mechanic friend stripped away the underside of the car and removed the faithful belt, replacing it with a super-duper new one. They showed me the old one and I held it up in surprise. Now, I don’t know if you know anything about these new fangled belts, but they are made of a very thick, ridged rubber covered in a thick mesh. It was this mesh that had frayed and was hanging on by a thread. A tiny edge of the rubber had come away and my mechanic friend assured me that had it got caught it would have unpeeled like orange rind. I didn’t care about that. I looked at that belt and saw that, apart from that frayed section, the belt seemed darn near OK.
Which brings me to my point (I heard that groan!). Well, it is this. I’m not brave. Physically, when it comes to tackling things that look scary, like abseiling or confronting a couple of thugs, I’m scared but I’ll have a go. But emotionally I’m terrified of confrontations. I hate upsetting people, especially those I love and will do anything to avoid telling them what I think. I’ve always had this cringing horror of showdowns and as I grew older it became harder and harder to face until now it takes a lot to get me to open up. It takes a lot out of me to do it but do it I will and, like the frayed belt, I usually find the situation is not as sad as I first thought. In the majority of cases the very act of confrontation, voicing my displeasure or disappointment, halts the destruction in its path, the belt is changed and all is well again.
No matter how awful and unredeemable a situation or relationship appears, if you tackle it sooner rather than later you have a better chance of recovery.
Or, as my old english teacher, Mrs Sands, would have said: ‘A stitch in time…’
Damn; don’t you hate it when after you’ve just spent the best part of 20 minutes typing you remember a centuries old saying that sums it up in 4 words? I bet there’s a saying about that aswell.