• April Hardy

Abuse and the Auto Shop

Updated: Mar 1, 2019


This week I spent several hours at an auto shop that a friend of mine co-rents while he and a friend tried to figure out why my car is misfiring.  I enjoyed being there because I'm interested in learning about mechanics (in "professional" shops I wouldn't be allowed to watch and ask questions) and because I like hanging out with guys.  Despite the abuse I've been through, I preferred the company of guys over girls from middle school on.  In fact, only in the last few years have I come to deeply appreciate my friendships with other women.


During my time at the shop, I probably came in contact with 11-16 different guys, all but two were previously unknown to me, and one girl.  I'm writing this because I got to observe, largely as an outsider, while I was there and I was surprised how much the topic of abuse came up.  This writing is to reflect on that.


The first time I was there, there were 11-14 guys from eighteen to sixty years old around.  Some came and went, others stayed for a while.  It was cool to watch them interact with each other...to watch the alpha and the followers...to watch how the guys learned from one another and how they problem solved.  Because I only knew one of them, I watched and I was watched - the human version of canine butt sniffing...


Of the lot of them, only two watched me intently and obviously.  The rest of them just acknowledged me with respectful detachment.  One of the two guys only watched, he didn't talk to me, but there was a bit of mutual attraction.  The other one made numerous attempts to connect with me emotionally and make me feel included.


Of the 11-14 guys I was exposed to that day, one stood out to me as the most attractive.  I didn't talk to him at all, but before the night was over I got to hear him angerly  say that he would break every bone in his baby-mama's face and that he would kill her. He was angry at her for a choice he could have easily remedied by going home, but he just yelled at her on the phone and then stayed at the shop so that he could still do what he wanted.  It was deeply disheartening to me that he had been the guy I was most attracted to based on appearance and body language alone.  I went home that night berating myself for my terrible taste in men.


The next time I was there, I had two guy friends there, one guy's girlfriend was there, and far less guys came to the shop.  While I was looking under the hood of my car and asking questions, my attention turned to a conversation behind me.  One of the guys was telling the other girl there that a couple they mutually knew was no longer together.  He told her that the reason for the break-up was that the guy had beaten the girl up,  He went on to talk about how he took care of the guy himself by beating him up and how abusive behavior towards women wasn't something he tolerated.


Not long after, when the flies were particularly bad, someone brought out an electric fly-swatter.  When the other girl tried to hand it to one of my guy friends he flinched and refused to take it.  He told us with his words that his step-father used to shock him with those a lot as he was growing up.  As he spoke those words, I watched him become a scared little boy in the face and another piece of the puzzle fell into place for me.  For as long as I have known him, that friend has longed to be truly loved, unconditionally loved, desperately.  I knew his home-life wasn't great while he was growing up.  I still don't know about a lot of it, I'm sure.  But in that moment I found myself standing there looking at one of the sweetest guys I know, wanting to hurt his step-father on his behalf.


I also learned, outside of the shop, that one of the guys I had met at the shop has a homosexual brother and that the guy used to cross-dress with that brother.  I was made aware that teasing and bullying were something both brothers had to deal with.


It was interesting to me that in 5-6 hours at an auto-shop the topics of Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Homicide, Child Abuse, Verbal Abuse, and Bullying all came up - especially when I was an outsider to most of them.  I am constantly amazed how much abuse affects our lives.  You can't hardly be in a room with other people without one of more of you having experienced some form of abuse. 


Male or female, young or old, not matter your race or ethnicity, I promise that you are not alone.   


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