The Woeful Tale of Bob the Car

I purchased a new car in September 2010 because the one I was driving really old, had lots of problems, and I figured it would be better  to start off new with a fresh 5 year warranty, a fully functional gas tank, and lower mileage.

I named my new car Bob the Car and it was great to have new wheels.  My old one was the bare minimum and Bob has all the features.  Power windows, heated seats, a USB drive for listening to music, and heated side mirrors for those cold winter mornings.

Lately, however, I’ve mostly just been wishing that the earth would open up and swallow Bob the Car, leaving my insurance company to replace him with something else.

First of all, for some mystery reason, half of the fuses blew around the beginning of December.  So into the dealership we went to put that nice new warranty to work.  The fuse panel and busted fuses were replaced and all was covered.  At this time, I mentioned to the mechanic that the USB function of my radio had been malfunctioning and frying my flash drives.  So they ordered a new one of those as well and off I went, confident in my new fuse panel and ordered radio.

Then, 2 days after Christmas, I went to move my car for the boyfriend’s father so he could get out of the driveway and I was shocked and dismayed to discover that all the same fuses were blown again.

I had no panel lights, no automatic windows, no rear defrost, and no dinging sound to tell me my seat belt was not fastened.

I was livid.  I called the dealership and left a message (it being the holidays and all) and they called me back the next day and told me because the mechanic who had worked on my car the first time was on holidays until after New Years, they wanted to know if I could wait to bring it in.  So I agreed and waited a week to take Bob the Car in again.  This time, apparently, it was the modulator, which of course, was on back order.  So they did the same temporary fix as last time and on my not so merry way I went.

The fuses did eventually blow again a few days before the part came in, so I got to spend another few days avoiding night driving as I couldn’t see how fast I was going and not being able to do drive through Timmie’s in the morning because the window wouldn’t go down.

The good new was that the radio was in when they did the temporary fix (the second one) and they installed it for me.  The bad news was that they didn’t hook it up to the antenna and all it did was scroll through the radio stations, searching for some kind of a signal.  And so, back I went again to wait 20 minutes before work while they hooked the radio up to the antenna and Voila!  The radio picked the invisible signals from the air once more.

I will say, after all the problems with the radio and the eventually replaced modulator, Bob the Car has been working perfectly…until the other night.

Let me set the scene for you.  We had just returned home from an all you can eat wing night with The Games Day Podcast and friends, dropped off by IT Mike and his awesome girlfriend.  The boyfriend went upstairs to do some homework and I told him I would be back, as I had to return the movies we had rented for Valentine’s Day.  I grabbed them and headed out to Bob the Car.  I sat in the driver’s seat and went to insert the key into the ignition, frowning when it was a little difficult to do so.  I figured it was just a little frosty and shoved a little harder, the key finally going all the way in.

But this was not the end of my tale.  The key would not turn.  No matter what I did; wiggling the steering wheel, the gear shift, pressing the brake or swearing like a drunken sailor on leave…that key wasn’t going anywhere.  So I sat and cried in my little car, so angry and upset that I couldn’t do anything else.

Then I grabbed the information from the glove box, went inside and called the free roadside assistance that I got when I purchased my car (another bonus with buying the new car).  I called and the lady on the other end heard what I had to say and immediately said, “Oh, just wiggle the steering wheel, press the brake and turn the key at the same time.”  I sighed but humoured her, performing this task to no avail.  She then told me I would have to have a tow truck come and get it (thankfully covered by the roadside assistance).  So I waited for almost two hours for the tow truck to show up, try the same thing I already had, tell me that his flatbed tow wouldn’t work as I had front wheel drive, a long and narrow laneway, and a wrong way facing vehicle.  He then told me he’d cancel the order and that I should call again in the morning, request a tow truck with a dolly and have it towed to the dealership.  He was very nice and polite and I thanked him, went inside and called my boss to tell him I’d likely be late in the morning and working from home, and then I went to bed, cursing Bob the Car.

So in the morning, I did all the rigamaroll with calling roadside service again, getting the right tow truck and watching him come and take Bob the Car away.  I caught a cab to work and got down to business, ignoring the boiling anger inside me that my car wasn’t working yet again.  I received a call later that morning to tell me that the ignition column was shot and was on back order (shocking) and that they were setting me up with a rental car.

So now I’m driving a giant vehicle (as compared to my little hatch back) around with no idea when this new part will come in and reunite me with Bob the Car.  I kind of feel like I’ve gone from riding a tricycle to powering around in a monster truck.

 

From tiny to GIANT

 

 

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Girls Are Gamers Too!

As a girl who has been gaming since she was physically capable of holding an Atari controller, I am frequently insulted by society’s portrayal of the typical “gamer”.  That image everyone automatically has of a pasty skinned boy, sitting in front of a television or computer screen in the dark, a maniacal look on his face and the current game reflecting in the lenses of his glasses.  When I was younger, this was always what people would think of when someone mentioned nerds or gamers.  I always just figured they didn’t understand and normally, I didn’t let it bother me.

As I got older and more sophisticated consoles came out onto the market, another common image appeared in relation to gaming.  You know the one: a room full of guys, snacks spread all over the coffee table as they all cheered and screamed, competing for the best score and loving every minute of it.  This was a less insulting portrayal in some ways.  Obviously, gaming was becoming more mainstream and more and more people were getting into it as it was more widely accepted.  There was, however, still one problem with this image for me.  There were never any girls on that couch, controller in hand going head to head with all those guys.

I spent a huge amount of my social time when I was in high school doing exactly what those pictures all portrayed.  I sat in my living room with a bunch of my friends for hours on end playing 4 on 4 death match in Goldeneye and Perfect Dark on the 64.  I put hours of my time and effort into Ocarina of Time, completely immersed in the storyline and loving every second of it.  I struggled along with all my friends to beat each course of Mario Kart 64 and earn the top spot on the podium and it was a huge victory every time I pulled it off.

But still, every time I would talk about video games with someone who didn’t know me very well, they looked at me like I was insane.  Like they couldn’t believe that a girl would be that into something that was reserved for guys and they almost looked down on me for it.  It was actually a very frustrating thing to deal with.  To want to talk so badly about my latest conquest in the world of gaming and to say one little thing about it and end up with a room full of my friends just staring at me like I’d grown another head was almost embarrassing, like time would freeze and nobody knew what to say.  While they were talking about going out on a date, I was sitting there with nothing to say because they wouldn’t understand if I broke in with, “You know, last night I finally found the fire arrows and was able to beat that temple that’s been holding me back for a week.”

After a while, I started to hide my natural, nerd-like tendencies.  I still gamed on my own and with the same three or four guys for hours of Goldeneye on a Saturday afternoon, but my inner gaming spirit was being crushed because I couldn’t share in excitement every time I finally beat a game or a certain boss.  It seemed like nobody I hung out with really cared.

Years later, I now live with the boyfriend and finally, I can share my triumphs with someone.  He’s actually excited when I beat a boss I’ve been trying to kill forever or when I finally hit the end of a game and the credits start to roll, I get congratulations instead of odd looks.  It’s nice to be able to share something like that, no matter what it is.

Curious, I took a peruse around the internet the other day and discovered that there are others out there, just like me, who want others to recognize that girls are involved in the gaming world as well.  I’m not talking about the bombshells they put on television so guys will watch and drool over new game announcements and hot outfits (not that I dislike those shows, they’re pretty fun to watch), but women actually working towards opening the door wider for others to get into the industry and become a larger part of the gaming world as a whole.  See the websites here and here.  I may not be interested in the development portion of gaming, but knowing that more and more women are getting involved in it, makes me think that perhaps there will be more games that appeal to a female perspective.  These do exist, but not in the number that are designed for guys in mind.

Remember all you male gamers out there, there may not be as many of us, but us female gamers do exist and we’re buying the same titles, earning the same trophies and building up the bragging rights just like you.

This is what it frequently looks like when I game.

More Than a Feeling: How Gaming Ties Into Our Emotional States

Picture the following scenario: you worked your butt off all day at your job, were constantly answering questions for people needing answers, running around like a crazy person trying to solve a whole bunch of problems that could potentially become disasters in the future and despite the fact that you had a completely exhausting day, you got almost no physical work done to show for it.  You stumble home, shuffle through the door and sigh, thinking about your options and what you can do to make up for such a crappy day.

When I reach this point in my day, several options come to mind:

  • Run a nice hot bath and light some candles to relax – that’s a nice sentiment, but way too girly for me and honestly, it’ll just put me to sleep.
  • Alright, so option number two is have a nice strong drink – this one is sounding more appealing and there IS a nice bottle of wine just sitting there on the counter, beckoning me to have a wee sip.  Alas, I am one of those people who will be very tipsy after a couple of glasses and I haven’t eaten yet, so that’s out (but totally an option to revisit for later on)
  • Watch some television and zone out – this used to be what I did, but I fell out of love with television a long time ago and we have since gotten rid of cable.

You might be asking me by now, “Gee, Shan…if none of those options are appealing to you, what on Earth will you do to relax after that insane day at work?”

I will tell you what I am going to do…something that brings me great joy and happiness and never fails to bring me to a completely relaxed state of zen.

I’m going to slaughter hundreds of zombies.

No, you didn’t hear me wrong, but don’t go running to the windows in a panic, wondering if the apocalypse is finally upon us; it’s not (yet).  When I am stressed/angry about something, I play video games and the best choices for stress relief are those in which you kill stumbling corpses out for blood by the masses.  Somehow, it’s utterly satisfying to take them out one by one, to scream your frustrations at their uncaring faces as they all line up to try and get you and the feeling of succeeding against this unending wave is fantastic.

I will scream whatever I want at them and take them out, running through a maze of creepy design in an effort to secure the essential object of the game (rescue the president’s daughter, find out [finally!] where the T-virus really came from, etc…).  Some people work out, some people will go out dancing, I like to kill the undead.

Yes, this is what I picture. I'm totally badass, just like Sheva. Taking all those Zombie Bastards down with my big gun!

I will admit, though, that this is not the only use of gaming I’ve ever seen used as a stress reliever.  The boyfriend does this too.  His game of choice, you ask?  Well, he likes to play Rockband.  When he’s upset or stressed and needs to blow off a little steam, those plastic drums get dragged out of the corner, the microphone gets plugged in and he’ll spend a few hours singing at the top of his lungs and slamming the drumsticks down on the little round pads, effectively draining any bad emotions and leaving a satisfied sense of well-being behind.

Gamers may not realize it, but gaming is an emotional thing just as much as a mental one.  We get attached to our characters and the story lines that they are going through, almost as if we were experiencing it ourselves.  I have never played a game (one that was worth it, mind you) that I didn’t get emotionally involved in.  Who hasn’t cheered their character on as they battled through any game, trying desperately to make it through the next boss and further into the story?  Who hasn’t sat at the edge of their seat, tensed to the point of almost being in pain as they battled heroically against Gannon at the end of a Zelda game they’ve invested hours of their lives in, just to see the story play out to the very end and save the Princess?

Rage is also a very prominent emotion when gaming; at least for me.  Sometimes, I can get so mad at something in a game, that I will eventually turn it off and not play again for months, because I hold such a grudge against the boss that is keeping me from progressing through the game.  I typically have several games on the go because I reached a point in all of them that made me angry and I had to walk away, lest I do something drastic…like this:

Anger is a powerful emotion and I love my PS3, so I wouldn't want to do this just because something in a game made me angry

What about you guys out there?  Does gaming evoke an emotional response from you as well?  Or is it just a game to you?  Are you attached to certain characters?