As a junior in high school I decided to take a car repair class. The school had a big garage and offered a couple of classes. I signed up for a basic auto repair class. I thought it would be fun.
My first day in class I discovered that I was the only girl in class. Cool, I thought. All the guys will like me and it can be a good time. That was NOT how it went. Turns out all the guys seemed to wanted to have their own boys’ club and they wanted time without a stupid girl in their class. They relentlessly made fun of me and gave me a hard time, asking me why I would take this class and they implied that I wouldn’t be able to lift a tire, let alone change one.
My strategy was to ignore them and to do my best. I figured that I was smarter than all of them anyway and that I would do fine. I figured they would chill on making fun of me soon and things would be fine.
One thing that was awesome about the class was that you could bring in your own car and fix things on it. I didn’t really have a car, but my mom let me use her newer Honda Accord and take it to class. After changing the oil and rotating and balancing the tires, there wasn’t a lot left to do on the car. On any given day in shop class if you didn’t have something to work on with your own car, you were supposed to help someone with their car. Obviously the shop couldn’t accommodate one car for each student anyway. I tried to help some of the boys with their projects, but nobody wanted me to work on their cars. I would constantly be told “We got it handled,” “We already have too many people here,” or “There is nothing for you to help with here.”
My grandpa had heard about my class and he was proud of me. He decided to buy me a vehicle that could use a lot of work, so that I could learn a lot in class and get to do a lot to it. My grandpa bought me the biggest ancient piece of shit truck I have ever seen. It was a Mazda B2000 two wheel drive, manual-shift pick up truck, I think it was a 1983 model. The cab was sort of like a tin box with toy doors. The entire thing was rusty, parts were falling off. The exhaust system had holes in it and it was so loud that everyone would stare when I started it up. The gas tank leaked and I could only put a couple of dollars of gas in it at a time because it started leaking out. I literally would fill it up until I saw the gas leaking on the ground and then stop, usually about $3 or so worth of gas. I was at the gas station a lot. One time as I was driving down the road I heard a loud noise from the engine and as I looked in my rearview mirror I saw a reasonably large rusty part, maybe about the size of a softball, had fallen out of the engine and it was bouncing down the road spraying rust everywhere with each bounce…… Ummmmmm….. the truck kept driving…. I decided it must not have been that important of a part.
The real kicker was that this truck had once been a advertising truck for Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer. It was painted white and blue. It had the logo “Pabst” across the hood and it had the logo on the side with the slogan: “What’ll You Have?”
The truck was so awesome!!! I took it to shop class and I learned so much. I got to replace brake pads and turn down rotors. I learned about fuses and replaced several. I got new tires and put them on and balanced them. I changed oil, I changed antifreeze, I changed brake fluid. I even ended up replacing the gas tank.
The boys in the class, however, would never help me. They relentlessly made fun of me. They tried to rip parts off of my truck and use them on their own cars. They teased me for having the biggest pile of shit truck and told me that Pabst Blue Ribbon beer sucks. They called me the bitch in the beer truck. I continued to ignore them and tried to learn as much as possible.
The shop teacher liked me. He thought I was a hard worker. He, however, was also astounded at what a junker the truck was. We had it up on a lift and he looked at it skeptically and then asked me how much my grandpa paid for it. I knew my grandpa paid $500 for it, but it seemed like a lot so I just told him I didn’t know. He told me he hoped my grandpa didn’t pay a lot.
Shop class only lasted a semester, but I managed to fix enough on the truck that it lasted quite a while after. I ended up driving the truck to work and back for over a year and even drove the truck to my junior prom. It was awesome. All my friends would know where I was in town. I learned so much from it and I was proud to be the bitch in the beer truck.