Ripe to be Ripped-Off

I’m not looking forward to tomorrow. MOT day for the car. A day where an inanimate object I’m predominantly responsible for has to undergo a test. A test that I don’t understand on any single level.

For me, cars are roadworthy if they:

a) Are shiny* (on the outside – the interior usually looks more akin to a cross between dumping ground and rubbish bin. I didn’t know banana skins turned to green powder until I cleaned out the driver-side door pocket the other week. Yuk.)

* Actually, by ‘shiny’ I mean you can see out of the windows. Shiny makes a better impression though, and is surely going to dazzle a mechanic into passing the car without any further prodding, right?

b) Start when you put the key in the ignition. Getting A to B (even with the engine warning light on permanently) is sufficient in my world.

c) Aren’t driven by dicks. For some reason this isn’t covered by the MOT. A mechanic should be able to write a car off on sight of the person handing it over that morning. It’s definitely a flaw in the system.

Instead, someone is going to look at my car, find (probably expensive) fault with it and then give me a whopping bill for fixing these, until that point, undetected death-traps-waiting-to-happen…which I can’t quibble with because I don’t understand enough to know if I’m being ripped off and couldn’t fix it myself even if I was.

So many options for ripping me off.

That last part is vital to my MOT misery. Even the bits I know need fixing before the test, I can’t fix.

For example, I knew the windscreen wipers needed changing. That the driver-side blade was hanging on by the merest of threads when I drove home from Manchester in February was a clue.

How hard can it be, though, to change some wiper blades. I mean, they’re on the outside. I’ve worked out how to add not only petrol, but also oil and windscreen wash and they both need me to pop the bonnet. (I can’t tell you how long it took to work out how to do that the first time I needed to though! The Krypton Factor would have been less challenging…and less messy.) Comparably, the wipers would be a doddle. Right?


Merrily I tripped my way to Halfords on Thursday. Because Noodles isn’t great with shopping and parking back home is a nightmare I decided to walk, with Noodles in his buggy. NOT taking the car was a mistake.

I was confronted with a plethora of wiper blades and a flip chart of options. ‘Shiny silver car’ wasn’t one of them. I was going to have to think about this.

Right, I drive a Ford. That much I know. I’m sure it’s a Focus. I flipped to the right sheet:


Too many options. I started to doubt myself on whether it was a saloon or hatchback (hatchback?) and the year (the 02 in the number plate is for 2002, isn’t it?). I couldn’t get an internet connection on my phone. I couldn’t find any staff to ask. Hell, I couldn’t even find the rear screen wipers.

Eventually I left with what I thought were the right blades. £65 lighter of pocket, Noodles grizzling in the buggy.

Now just to fit them. It didn’t bode well when I took the first blade from the packet. It was decidedly shorter than the previous one. The previous one that I couldn’t figure out how to remove.

I looked for instructions on the packet. They looked like this:


Now, I was late to smartphone consumerism. I don’t know what to do when confronted with such a square. I looked instead at Bosch’s website. It looked like this:

Not much help then. Even when I found the English version and a video to help I was still none the wiser.

I was going to have to ask my dad. Grandy, after all, is of the generation of men who can turn their hand to anything.

Anything, apart from fitting windscreen wiper blades. He managed to snap the first one.

‘I don’t think it’s the right size,’ he added in his defence.

And so it was that this morning, after washing and waxing the car (incase my hunch ever turns out to be right) I headed back to Halfords. Where I stood in line and waited. And went to check the flip chart again to see if I’d really messed up in a really divvy, embarrassing way. And waited some more.

Finally a man boy of about 16 asked if could help. Surely he wasn’t even old enough to drive!

Never underestimate the young. Within 30 seconds of seeing my car he’d established that I had bought the WRONG BLADES for the driver and passenger side. The rear wiper I’d got right – HOORAH! – and with a flick of the wrist he had it fitted.

Back inside he didn’t even bother checking the miniature flip chart. He just compared the length of the old blades with the new ones. Why didn’t I think of that? Oh, because I couldn’t get the old ones off either. And because I’m a slave to a list.

Blades exchanged and £5.98 fitting paid for, the car was then sorted within another 30 seconds, my new teen best friend using a sleight of hand last seen used by Dynamo.

‘How do you do that?’ I cried.

‘I get paid for it, so I have to be fast,’ he replied.

I still think he could get into the Magic Circle with such a trick.

And tomorrow will be more of the same, only more acutely and the exchange of a lot more money. Today has been a demonstration in how tomorrow is unavoidable.

Wish me…and my car…luck!

At least the car’s polished and shiny. How can it NOT pass?!

It looks road-worthy to me.


7 thoughts on “Ripe to be Ripped-Off”

  1. How do YOU do that? There’s a laugh a line here! And of course I always get extra fascinated with your ‘language.’ Hmmmm, tonight I shall sit in my lounge with my bonnet. No??

    Really love your understated style and hilarious accompanying graphics!!

    Your number one fan!

    1. If I didn’t find the ability to laugh at how the world just wants to mess me around in minute infuriating ways, then I’d be rocking in a corner or on blood pressure meds. Laughing is easier – although it has given me wrinkles.
      Thank you for the compliments. Right back at you, Stephanie. Xx

    2. My aim is to have you talking like a post-Higgins Eliza Doolittle by the end of the year, Stephanie. You can wear a massive hat and white Edwardian dress too if you want to, in which you can flounce around the parlour. X

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