CAR SHARE, CAR CARE

I’ve been rehearsing a difficult conversation I need to have with my husband.

“We need to talk,” I say to the dog (I’ve cast him in the role).

“It’s a conversation we should have had a long time ago. I think we’d have been happier. Well, I think I would have been happier.”

The dog tilts his head. He looks anxious. I wonder about getting him an agent; he’s really into this.

“Ok, so now for the hard bit…  It’s just that I think… I think we may be… in-car-patible.”

Yes, in-car-patible.

My husband has been using my car.

As a result, my emergency Parma Violets have been consumed and there are Starburst sweet wrappers everywhere. An empty disposable coffee cup sits in the cup holder, undisposed.

The back rest, which helps me enjoy a more comfortable ride, has been slung into the passenger footwell, my rear view mirror wrenched into an unfamiliar position and the seat lowered and repositioned.

Worse still, I’ve dashed to the car mid-way through The Archers in the hope of seamlessly picking it up only to discover that the bloody radio has been retuned to Five Live.

Instead of listening to Miranda condescendingly disparage Lilian’s taupe curtains, I find myself embroiled in a discussion about the apparently thrilling climax of the football season.

I wonder if this is the sort of thing that breaks a marriage.

It’s ridiculous, I know, to be so irrationally incensed by these trifles. They never used to bother me. Now, though, I find his disregard of in-car tidiness positively distressing.

I know that everybody needs an outlet for their own personal chaos, but I’d prefer his outlet not to be my car.

His own vehicle is surely territory enough, without a bid for the annexation of mine.

The last time I borrowed my husband’s car, as well as the traditional scattering of Starburst wrappers and numerous empty coffee cups clogging the footwells, the back seat was strewn with crumpled conference papers, a collection of bags-for-life (or in his case, eternity) and the remnants of some straw bales.  

A half sucked Halls Mentholyptus was stuck to the pull down armrest.

And this is where we are different. Before I could even turn the key in the ignition, I collected the rubbish in one of the bags-for-life and chucked it.

I proceeded to drive the four wheeled slum to the hand wash outside the local supermarket where I instructed a very helpful Kazakhstani gentleman to wash and valet it inside and out.

Only then did I feel able to tackle the supermarket shopping.

As I wandered the aisles scooping life sustaining products into my trolley, I pondered our different attitudes to our vehicles.

I spend a great deal of time in my car; around 30,000 miles per year. By contrast, my husband probably spends no more than twenty minutes in an average day in his.

I have come to see my car as a friend and protector. I actually talk to it from time to time. Hell, I even sing to it.

My husband sees his car as that thing which gets him from A to B. He wouldn’t dream of investing emotion in something that has nothing to say for itself. 

And he can’t sing.

My car is equipped for all eventualities.  His, for immediate requirements only.

My glove box: log book; letter confirming my recent attendance on Driver Awareness course; emergency tights; emergency pants; emergency lip gloss; selection of loose tampons; hand wipes, perfume; dog treats.

His glove box: log book; locking wheel nut from car he no longer possesses; Starburst wrappers.

My boot: two lightweight folding deck chairs; waterproof picnic rug; blanket; collapsible dog bowl; screen wash; de-icer; golfing umbrella; spare mackintosh;  pair floral wellibobs (I know, frightful word, waterboard the Head of Marketing); shovel.

His boot: huge bag of festering gym kit; one binliner full of old curtains I asked him to take to the tip in 2013; a random shoe; copies of The Guardian dating back to the last century; more bags-for-life; Starburst wrappers.

My side pockets: implement to smash my way out of car in event of RTA or landing on water; high vis vest; packet of Ginger Nuts in case of being caught in snow drift or unexpected nuclear war.

His side pockets: Starburst wrappers; empty crisp packets; disposable coffee cup lids; loose change from global currencies.

On my return, I’m ready to say my piece.

“Henceforth I am denying you access to my glovebox.”

“Is that a euphemism?” He replies.

I honestly think it might be. This could be Lysistrata for the twenty-first century.

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3 comments

  1. I don’t have the problem of anyone else messing with my car because no one else in my family knows how to drive.

    I know my mum never used to mind my dad driving her car because it would be the only time petrol would get put in – she didn’t know how to do it, she said.

    I do occasionally get someone driving my work van but the only problem then is me breaking my kneecaps on the steering wheel when I get in afterwards. My radio has 3 instant tune programme buttons – 1. Solent, 2. R4 and 3. Classic FM, so it’s easy to re-tune if necessary.

    Regarding the glove compartment, perhaps you could get a lock fitted to prevent unwanted box entry, keeping your goodies safe.

    I’d never heard of Lysistrata before – thanks for the education.

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