Yesterday, I took three hours to wash, polish, buff, wax and then double buff my car. I also made sweet, sweet love to the interior, which is now pristine and "new car" smelling. I even did a Rain X job on all of the windows. All of them. Yes. I even shampooed the carpets.
As I was doing this, people in the neighborhood drove by in their German cars and looked at me in the driveway the way a group of Japanese tourists look at the animals at the DC Zoo. I believe I even saw a child point and stare.
At one point, one of my old man next door neighbors (there is one on either side), came sauntering over to inspect my work. He remarked that he wished his own daughter had enough "grit in her belly" to undertake such a task. He also lamented that he wished his wife would do the same. I asked him when the last time he cleaned his own car was, and he just laughed at me and said, "Darlin', I'm a stock broker. Do you think stock brokers wash their own car?" I'm positive that the man wouldn't know the first thing about working a lawn mower either.
I felt like replying, "Darling, I'm an academic. Do you think academics know their ass from a hole in the ground? Clearly there are exceptions to every rule." But I didn't because it's rude to point out other people's shortcomings to themselves, even if it is the truth.
As I was polishing away, I have to say that I found a very nice state of tranquil Zen in my 3 hours of hard labor. The work itself was somewhat demanding on my fingers, arms and back, but it reminded me that doing things myself just feels good. I knew that I would be unsatisfied with the job if I spent $60 and put my car in the hands of a team of immigrant workers who don't care about the maintenance of the eco-friendly Honda Civic. Getting the supplies and doing the work myself assures that I know every inch of the vessel that takes me from Point A to Point B, or, in this case, from here to Virginia next week.
I'm the only woman I know who checks her own oil and fluid levels every time she fills her gas tank. I'm the same woman who sweetly asks the car mechanic guy to show her exactly why he thinks she needs new brake pads, and then calls bullshit on him when she takes a look herself and sees that he's just trying to profit from his misplaced sexism.
Male or female, I come from a long line of people who do things themselves. Doing things yourself gives us a level of authenticity and ownership that the drive-thru car wash at the gas station fails to otherwise provide. Particularly for women, it makes for a much more independent and self-reliant world view in general. When you feel like you have the power in your person to figure things out on your own, you automatically decrease your potential victim index by tenfold. The less we do for ourselves, the less agency we have in general.