Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Car Egos

Someone once said that she doesn't like it when a man calls her "Shorty" because it's not respectful, implies inferiority, etc. etc. I'd concede that it’s not the cutest pet name ever, but I have to say I don't mind that much...as long as the boy really is significantly taller than me. Because if a guy were only slightly taller than me, I'd feel like he was trying to soothe his ego by calling me short.

Don't get me wrong; I don't have a problem with short men. I don’t usually look down my nose on people based on their appearances, especially if it’s something they can’t help. And goodness knows I’m not exactly statuesque myself at 5’5” – not bad for a Chinese girl but slightly below average for a Canadian. But there's a variety of small men out there who are obsessed with proving…well, whatever it is they’re out to prove. They’re like chihuahuas – big dogs in small dogs’ bodies, or little dogs with loud voices and lots to say, depending how you look at things. And they always, always overcompensate for their smallness with big toys.

Like this guy I used to work with. He was this teeny, tiny man, with a teensy bald head and the biggest odour I’d ever had the displeasure to encounter. Every time something went wrong, he’d march his tiny, little legs up to the second floor to yell at me. He thought he could yell at me for anything that went wrong because I was new and female and young and therefore didn’t have enough brains or knowledge to fill an eggcup. Consequently, he embarrassed himself each and every time because I could always back my stuff up with a paper trail – they were inevitably his mistakes. But he yelled at me every time anyway, hoping to get me even once, because dogs are linear-thinkers and persistent like that.

He also liked to throw around unwelcome, suggestive comments that just bordered on sexual harassment. Just offensive enough to disgust me, but not quite bad enough to get him in trouble, and to other low-ranking people in my hearing instead of directly to me.

One day, I was pulling up to work, about to park when I passed by him getting out of his vehicle – and his car was enormous! Absolutely the hugest pearl white SUV I’d ever seen. As I glanced at him climbing out of that thing (using the step below the door, of course, because his legs were so short), I had to exercise a huge amount of restraint to stop myself from rolling down my window and asking if he was sure he can handle a monster like that.

So because of him, I learned that it’s totally true that (some) small men compensate for their smallness with big toys.

But I picked up an unpleasant piece of knowledge about myself recently, and that is that I, apparently, have a car ego, too.

Those of you who read me regularly might have noticed that I wrote a eulogy for my late car, Grasshopper, a couple posts ago. That’s because two weeks ago, I totalled it in my very first accident and the whole event made me very, very sad. Not having a car in Toronto is like not having legs, and Grasshopper was my first car.

My very sweet and supportive family sat me down on Saturday and told me that they were going to help me get a used car that was in really good condition. They would start making payments on it, and when I finish school and get a job, I’d take over paying for it. I was very moved and I’d been getting really excited about this new, little, red car. It’s four years old but it only has 35k kilometres on it, and most importantly, it’s fully loaded, with power locks, power windows and a sunroof! I was beginning to fantasize about impulsive mani-pedi getaways, romantic trips to the supermarket with the sunroof rolled open...

Then my mom called a good friend of hers to come take a look at the car with us, and he told me that I could stop looking because he had an old car that I could have. He had a friend that returned to Hong Kong and left his car here. Since he wasn’t going to use it, he said I could. It was super generous of him, and I could hardly believe my good fortune, but very honestly, it totally took the wind out of my sails because I was prepared to get a really cute car!

I went to see this new car, and it’s in even worse condition than my previous one. It needs a thorough cleaning inside and out, and it literally is a pile of rust. Part of the bumper is falling off. It’s even older than my old car, although the engine and transmission are new(ish). I was just speechless when I saw it because it wasn’t what I was getting all psyched about, but who am I to complain when it’s free? It’s financially going to be way easier because I’d only have to get liability insurance on it, like with my old car, and it really is SUCH a generous gesture...but I hope you can appreciate why my weekend went from jaw-droppingly awesome to just nice.

Then my best friend said to me, “If money is on the line, your car ego will have to take a hike.” She's right.

Thus, I have discovered that I, too, have a car ego - just like wee men. :P

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