Cars should be female-friendly

2011-08-22 00:00

ONE of the first things my father taught me when I wanted to learn to drive was how to change a tyre. He said that I could never be sure that a man would be around to do this job. I was made to unscrew the nuts and jack up the car and I felt extremely proud of myself when the deed was done.

But secretly I did hope that I would not have to put these skills to the test too often. Changing a car tyre is just a pain. I always feel wretched for those people on the side of the road who are engrossed in this activity. My friends and I secretly plotted to always have a miniskirt in the boot in case of an emergency, and if a flat tyre emergency arose we would put on the miniskirt and act like a helpless female.

At college we had a few flat tyres and we learnt that men were not always to be relied on to solve these mechanical challenges. One group of heroic men who came to the rescue after a night's hard drinking put the tyre on the wrong way.

We barely managed to make it to the closest garage accompanied by horrendous grating noises. The petrol attendants assumed that we had changed the tyre and were doubled up laughing. We were furious that our expectations of the male species had been so wrong.

In these modern days of women's lib, the miniskirt trick would be frowned upon. Besides you could be a target for much worse trouble. Sadly my days of miniskirts have long gone. Nowadays I roll up my sleeves and knuckle down. But changing tyres is not easy — show me female-friendly tyres.

On the last memorable flat-tyre occasion I had two toddlers in the car and was stuck on the side of a busy highway. I manfully ("womanfully") hauled out the spare wheel and found the jack, all the while praying that a good Samaritan would stop. The nuts on the wheel were as tight as a drum.

I jumped on that damned wheel spanner and the nuts barely moved an inch. I gave the tyre a few good kicks. The toddlers in the back seat were watching with some amusement. They had given up belting each other with their bottles and were now fascinated. The cars continued to whizz past furiously.

Eventually a man stopped his car. I sent a silent prayer of thanks to the heavens. He got out in a suit and strolled over.

A gentleman, I thought.

"Ah, I see you are having some trouble," he said. "I am lost. I wanted to know if the next off-ramp goes to Republic Road."

I did entertain thoughts of assaulting him with said wheel spanner. But I managed to answer him in a civil manner and watched gobsmacked as he drove off.

It took an hour to get the nuts off and change the tyre. The sun had gone down, my nerves were shot and I was exhausted. It was a dreadful way to learn that chivalry is dead and that I should get a subscription to the AA.

The car industry is probably still controlled by men or clearly they would have come up with a solution for us ladies on how to quickly change a flat tyre.

While we are on the subject of car modifications I would like to suggest the following additions for a car … a pull-down magnified mirror for emergency make-up applications, a compartment to stow away high heels while driving, more compartments for shopping bags, hangers for clothes, upholstery that looks more feminine, a built-in air freshener compartment, a built-in speaker phone — women can talk and drive, GPS — we like to know where we are going, even though we do ask for directions, an automatic screen to shut out fighting children and teenagers, the driver's seat should have a built-in back-massage cushion, a Zen music system programmed to coincide with the menstrual cycle and a water cooler would be really nice.

You men can keep your macho 4x4s and your wheel spanners. But we do like it when you offer to help a damsel in distress.

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