QOTD: Candidate for Anger Management?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Want to feel good about yourself? Scratch the surface of an outwardly successful, right-thinking person and peer inside. Needle them just a bit about a topic that should be mundane — politics, for example — and watch the quaking begin. Watch the dam crack and the deluge pour forth. The emotion, the spittle-flecked ranting, the complete irrationality. The rage. Glad you’re not like that person, aren’t you?

(Note: this will only make you feel better about yourself if you’re a relatively even-keeled individual and your sparring partner isn’t wildly affluent.)

Now, flip the equation and replace your previous role with a car. That’s the situation many of us find ourselves in at one time or another — rendered inconsolable by one too many quirks, hiccups, or full-on meltdowns of our unthinking driving partner. The vehicle we pour money into, and get depreciation and varying levels of service in return. Sometimes, it’s enough to make a peaceful man violent.

Admit it. Have you ever battered your car?

I know I have, though not to the degree some people sink to. The most prominent example was more an act of self-preservation than giving a vehicle its comeuppance. Back in my uni days, long-haired, idealistic, naive Steph drove a sensible Corsica with a serious Northern design flaw. Melted snow would get under the upper door frame weatherstripping and freeze, binding door to body like contact cement. The Jaws of Life couldn’t pry open those entry points.

On a particularly cold evening that followed a deceptively mild and sunny afternoon, I returned to my car to find it as impenetrable as Fort Knox. As a howling, bitter wind threatened to turn my face to ice, I resorted to violently kicking the door until it finally jarred the seal loose. I was more than willing to live with that dent. Meanwhile, the Corsica’s resale value dropped by 58 cents. Yes, I was angry. This wasn’t some weird exotic — it was a General Motors vehicle, damn it! The pride of Wilmington, no less.

Other fits of anger had to be reined in, lest further damage befall the faulty piece. Take, for example, a window regulator that just couldn’t get the glass all the way to the top. There were other blows, maybe a kick or two, plus numerous “Come ooooon, you stupid piece of…” as an ignition key was turned in vain. No doubt, vehicular assaults are all the more common for the DIY mechanic.

But pounding a door or dash in frustration is only natural. What I want to know today is, have you ever just punished your car, Basil Fawlty/Austin 1100 Countryman-style, after it let you down one too many times? Did it survive?

[Image: General Motors]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Nov 14, 2018

    I was ready to light one on fire this past weekend. 195k miles and a leaking thermostat gasket. Start pulling the two bolts and the first one snaps off. OK, drill it, get the screw extractor and bam, that broke off in the broken bolt all nice and jagged. Great, those are hard as can be. So, a Dremel, several bits, several drill bits, go to the store for Cobalt bits, it is kind of out. Run a tap down the hole for clean threads and two days later it is back together. Would have been easier to push it out of the garage and light it on fire.

  • Pwrwrench Pwrwrench on Nov 16, 2018

    Not a car, but a motorcycle. About 35 years ago I goofed and bought the wrong dirt bike. That was a time of tremendous changes in off road bikes and the one I got was 5 or more years behind the others. The suspension, engine, and ergonomics weren't very good. On a mountain trail it refused to shift, for the umpteenth time, leaving me in neutral and falling over into rocks. Rather frustrated at that point I picked myself and the bike up and proceeded to kick the bike with great vigor. The person riding with me was aghast. As if I was attacking his sister or something. Not surprising, when I tried to sell it there were no takers. Later two guys came by with odd accents and started to pull out money. Turns out they were New Zealanders in SoCal on military training. I inquired about how they intended to ship the bike back home. They said that they came and would return on a large transport plane and could take just about anything short of a full size car or truck. Also they thought the price was good as they said a similar machine in New Zealand would cost many times more due to taxes, import fees, etc. Strange how things go.