A few weeks ago, I was sitting on the curb next to the air pump at Wawa with a completely flat rear passenger side tire. In the span of fifteen minutes three men asked if I needed help. They each approached me the same way you might a severely injured bear. They weren’t sure if I had the demeanor of Winnie the Pooh or the bear from “The Revenant.”
I understand men being respectful. They don’t want to seem threatening by approaching a woman in a parking lot who is clearly in distress. They probably don’t want to just assume I know nothing about cars and can’t put air in my own tire.
There was a big hole in the tire and no amount air was going to fix it.
“Ok…do you have a spare?”
I know I should have a spare. I’ve been meaning to get one. But when it comes to car care I just prefer someone else do it for me because I’m clueless.
Before you blame my father, it isn’t his fault. When I got my learners permit he tried to teach me about proper car maintenance. My dad is a whiz when it comes all things auto. I returned his laundry list of instructions with blank stares.
I’ve never been mistaken for pampered or spoiled. Growing up plus size with a face full of acne, you prep yourself for a life of struggle. I never waited for a prince or anyone of non-royal blood to rescue me.
There are people who outsource laundry, cooking, childcare, and even shopping. I outsource car care.
It makes what Patrice Banks is doing all that more impressive to me. She is owner of the Girls Auto Clinic in Upper Darby and author of the soon-be-released Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide which aims to educate and empower women to be smart consumers and confident drivers.
Once a self proclaimed, “auto air-head,” Banks learned by going back to school for Automotive Technology at Delaware Technical Community College. She became a certified automotive technician, and started a business that defies gender stereotypes while encouraging women to feel comfortable about their car repair. In the book and the shop, she reassures customers that no matter where you start, you can become a confident, responsible car owner.
“If you don’t want to do it. Act like you know what you are talking about,” my auto-inclined friends tell me. No woman wants to be taken advantage of when we walk into the auto shop, and while some of us will never be able to rebuild an engine, Banks is giving women confidence to be able to pop the hood, change the oil…and always have a spare tire.