There is a car parked outside the village shop, identical to my late, lamented Silver Bullet. Granted, the Green Goddess is in a considerably better state than her predecessor, but there are still twinges of nostalgia. The notice in the window of the car describes its legal condition and price and adds a single, simple phrase, guaranteed to make you think that this is a trustworthy vehicle.
‘One lady owner.’
The immediate assumption is that here is a car that has been well maintained and gently driven. It is a phrase we are conditioned to accept as a reassurance of reliability. We do not think twice about it… the car, should you be looking for something of that nature, is definitely worth a look.
Except… that’s the thing. We don’t think about it… we simply accept the implication.
Now, not only have I driven with a good many female drivers. Indeed, I am a ‘lady driver’. And, for a moment, I thought about what that means. Now, don’t get me wrong, the majority of women are excellent drivers. Statistically we may be the better drivers, but that depends on which study you look at. Many of the accidents we have may well be the bumps and scrapes acquired in the Pit of Hades, otherwise known as the supermarket car-park.
However, no matter what the illusory stereotype of the little woman sedately driving the school and supermarket runs may suggest, you can never generalise that easily. I have bought cars that have had the ‘one lady owner’ that have been spotless and fabulously maintained….and immediately had to replace a clutch that has been ridden to death or add oil to an engine that appears to be dying of thirst. That same lady owner could also have kept a menagerie of ill-disciplined animals and children, all of whom may have left their detritus, muddy paws and bodily fluids all over the interior. I’ve had them… I know what dogs and children can do to a car.
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