You mistook my meaning. Being an instructor, you certainly understand the importance of facial expressions and voice inflection, and had you heard my self-deprecating joke in person, you would have seen the humor was meant to pick on me, not women.
Every class has its top students and every teacher has their favorites ones. I had a total of five female students over nine years. Two of them were definitely in the wrong field, but the other three WAY out-performed the guys. They had insatiable appetites for knowledge. They wanted to learn to work in a professional manner. They never complained; and they were always careful and respectful of other people's property. And believe me, they had the respect of their classmates. So you don't get to fall back on that "here comes a woman" excuse. There are just as many guys who are clueless about cars, and I personally know two of them.
Have you noticed the change in car advertising over the past few years? The manufacturers are catering to women more now because as of a few years ago, 60 percent of new car buying decisions have been made by women. They are more informed than the guys, but sadly, everyone in my opinion is informed about the wrong things. Manufacturers tell you their car has the most room, or the most toys, or the best whatever-they-think-you-want-the-best-of, but they don't talk about the high cost of repairs and the frequent breakdowns. By me trying to educate people about these things, I come across as negative and crabby. The point is there are plenty of people, me included, who can tell you the positive side of the story, but I'm the only one who tells the bad side.
When it comes to that service, I worked with three service advisers at the dealership. The first one had been there many years and had a huge base of repeat customers who he knew by name when they walked through the door. It didn't matter if you were a man or a woman, you got the same friendly greeting and attention to detail. The only thing was he was incapable of speaking without using his hands. The few times I called the shop to speak with him, he sounded like an entirely different person when I couldn't see his hands flying around.
The second service adviser had little good to say about any customer. Not that he was critical; it's just he needed to make some little negative comment about each person. He didn't last long because he was not suited for that job and wasn't happy in that position.
The third adviser was a young woman. She too knew very little about cars, but she had excellent communication skills and plenty of empathy for customers who were sort of down on their luck.
Those two service advisers were a major reason that dealership had such a huge customer base and the owners knew it. When a customer brought cookies for the crew, came in smiling, came in screaming and angry, explained in great detail what symptoms they had documented, expected to have their car serviced right then and there with no appointment, questioned a diagnosis, argued about a bill, said "thank you", or any other thing you can think of, there was a 50 percent chance it was a woman. You may be FEELING that you're going to be taken advantage of but that probably projects to the person you're dealing with and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I could see that in my mother and her friend. They never questioned anything; not just about cars, but at the grocery store, the department store, etc. The problem wasn't the mechanics or the sales people, it was them. I'm somewhat the same way. That's my fault, not the salespeople's.
Now, to offer some advice that might actually be useful, you might consider looking for a night class related to cars and consumers. We used to call that "Automotive Fundamentals for Women" and no one looked for a reason to be offended. Today, in the world of silly political correctness, and especially because there are so many clueless guys, we call it "Automotive Fundamentals for Consumers". This class is not intended to turn you into a mechanic. It is intended to make you a more informed customer. Many of these classes are modified according to the wishes of the group. As an example, a group of senior citizens might learn how to recognize a tire going flat or an engine that is starting to overheat. Younger participants might be taught how to change a flat tire or how to nurse an overheating car to the repair shop without causing engine damage. The classes also explain how repair shops and dealerships work, how they figure out what's wrong with your car, how they determine the repair bill, and how you can help keep costs and repairs to a minimum. My dealership held a similar class once a month for recent car buyers to explain proper maintenance and operating features, then the service manager, parts department manager, and body shop manager each took turns explaining how their departments worked and how customers could get the most benefit when visiting them.
There is no reason for you or anyone else to assume you will be taken advantage of just because you're a woman. It's true that's a common feeling still, but it has been changing gradually over the years. Some women customers are doctors and lawyers, and real estate agents, and the service advisers know they all deserve the same respect. One of the top Ford mechanics in our city is a woman who was a product of my college before I got there, and heaven help the service adviser who tries to talk down to her. She will clear up any misconceptions about female customers. In reality, it's not the female customers my service advisers have trouble with; it's the guys who think they have all the answers just because they're guys, and they knew how to fix a few things 30 years ago. Times are changing. I personally prefer explaining car problems to interested ladies vs. Disinterested guys.
There was no insult in my joke. I've used those lines many times including with my female school president, and not a single person complained, so you don't get to be offended either. Take it in the spirit it was meant, not what you choose to read into it. One of the few things I hated about teaching was the higher-ups actively searching with great effort for reasons to be offended and looking for every opportunity to talk down to us about it. Common sense has gone out the window. No one is allowed to laugh at themselves anymore. Isn't it funny that the world of academia is one of the few places where we no longer have freedom of speech?
Anyhow, I'll get off my soapbox now. FloridaHonda, might I suggest the next time you have a car problem, come back here and list the symptoms so you can go the repair shop prepared with some possible solutions or recommendations. A lot of people do that, not because they want to fix their car themselves, but so they know in advance what to expect. We can also give you some questions to ask, and we can suggest things to observe that might speed up the mechanic's diagnosis. Some people come here after they think they were ripped off. That's hard to tell without knowing all the details and no one likes to tell people, "you should have, ... ". If there's anything else I can add or answer, be sure to ask.
Tuesday, June 21st, 2011 AT 8:46 PM