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One SheCanic’s #MeToo moment outlined in book

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - 06:00
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Even mechanics can spark their own #MeToo movement. That moment came in the form of a car care book, authored by Patrice Banks, owner and technician of a vibrant all-women’s auto repair shop.

Banks spoke about her 2014 book, “Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide” with National Public Radio about a phase in her life when she felt helpless and fearful of having to consult male installers about routine vehicle repair. Will readers feel baited into the national conversation about sexual intimidation and coercion? No. Instead, this book transcends the women’s marches that took to the country’s cities this past January. Banks leverages a forceful pragmatism through personal empowerment, which is why the auto care industry can benefit from her insights.

Expect a playful narrative that exudes a conversational banter between two girlfriends meeting over a glass of wine. Within the confines of a dysfunctional household, raised by her single mom who prioritized transient boyfriends over holding down a full-time job, Banks established a support system of mentors who enabled her to forge an educational pathway in engineering.

Meanwhile at age 16, Banks obtained her first car that she abused partly out of ignorance, partly out of fear of consulting a repair shop. It fostered a thorny relationship with her local repair man, concedes Banks. Some blame went toward the shop who treated her as a ditz, but in hindsight, she regrets delegating the diagnostic work to her buddies while it was just as easy for her to pop open the hood.

This cautionary tale shifts forward by relating her frustrations with other women who set themselves up believing that they know less than the guys. Two reasons why Banks left her six-figure engineering career to launch her auto clinic is that she aspired to take full control of her life and give back to other women.

While researching possible businesses to start, she asked her female peers, “What do you wish you know about that you usually have to pay a man to take care of?” Hands down they said car and truck repair.  From there asserts Banks that “77 percent of drivers believed women are likely to be misunderstood and/or taken advantage of when bringing their cars in for service.” With a dearth of female mechanics, explained Banks to National Public Radio, she became one, and ultimately named her business Girls Auto Clinic Repair Center.

Herein lays a missed opportunity to invite dispirited men to ride along the same road that Banks traveled. While she earns kudos about addressing the fear and anxiety factor, newly licensed teen-boys, and older males can also fall onto the auto airhead spectrum. Shame does not discriminate by gender.

Given exploding technological updates, aspiring car pros cannot possibly know everything that appears beneath the vehicle’s shell. Therefore, sensitive male readers should forgive Banks’ oversight and embrace the two remedies that she prescribes:  the importance of treating the vehicle with deference and finding a competent mechanic.

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