Mandarin Mechanics –

The exhaust was broke. You start the car and it sounds like there’s an invisible army of protesters banging the lids of bins all over the road. People start running away to avoid shell shock and cochlear traumas.
It was time to get it fixed.
There was a young fella there with the exact same car as mine. So I said: ‘Ever have any problems with your exhaust?’
‘No.’ He said: ‘But yours sounds fucked.’
‘Thanks. Any theories?’
‘It’s your heatshield.’
‘Yeah?’
‘Definitely.’
The mechanic arrived just in time to contradict him and said: ‘Your flywheel’s fucked.’
‘Not the heatshield?’
‘No. Put her over the pit there.’
The pit was a huge concrete hole in the ground. When the car was over it, he jumped down, made loud clattering noises, broadcast mumbled theories. We stood watching the car move uncomfortably, like a cow having its tits yanked and pulled by an inconsiderate vet. Eventually he announced loudly to the world: ‘It’s your CAT!’ Pause, then: ‘Your CAT is fucked. I can hear the bitch rattlin. It’s a common fault in these yokes.’
His tone assumed everyone knew precisely what a CAT was, and that it had nothing to do with the feline species. I could kinda see his chin and teeth moving around by the front wheel. I leaned in and shouted down my best Mechanic’s Mandarin: ‘Is that a big job?’
‘Middlin big. I won’t do it today. I’ll have to come up underneath, bate all the shite  out of it with a hammer and put the whole lot back together again….them fuckin things do have Asbestos and everythin in them…’
‘Is it definitely the CAT?’
His voice had moved away to beneath the boot so I had gravitate over like a confused amoeba. ‘I’m almost certain.’ He said.  ‘but then again, these new yokes do need to be plugged into computers, you could try that first somewhere and see…?’
Said thanks. Got in. Started it up.  Rattled away. Clanging up the road, like a terrified tin of beans.
Met another mechanic a while later. Asked him what he thought. He said there was a rubber ring inside it that had most likely burnt away. Small job. Nothing major. “Common fault in them yokes…’
Later, found a place that can plug the car in to a computer. Got it hooked up. Wi-Fi. Thinkpad. Lots of info on the screen.
Hmm.
Ahh.
I wonder.
Eventually they said they’d have to put it on the lift, they don’t do pits here.
After looking under it, he said there was a small piece of metal, about the size of a nail, that hooks the exhaust and the heatshield and the catalytic converter together and that was probably gone. I asked him if there was anything he could do and he said no, impossible, would take a whole day just to dismantle the parts, then get a welder to weld it altogether, then put everything back to the way it was. ‘You could be looking at five or six hundred Euro and it might not even do the job, up to you like, not much that can be done really…common fault in them yokes.’
Wondered what to do. Didn’t do anything. Jangled home, like a mechanical leper. Tried to forget about it. Not get thick every time I start the car. How’s that goin for ya, Micky?
Not great now.

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