An Unlikely Place for a Panic Attack is Belle Tire

An unlikely place for a panic attack is Belle Tire
Crossing ankles in the waiting room watching
Carhartt stomping saying hey man
Blend like neutral watercolors
An unfriendly handshake
In the marrow of my ribs, I can’t
Inhale, fearing that
Tucked under the hood might not be
Just a bad battery;
The blare of the sports show on the tv above me
Is booming: the voice of god
                         —some over-animated man gesticulating—
Calling to the “Guys” behind computers
Who are swinging other people’s keys around their fingers
Smirking
Their oily confidence purchased from the back of
A Snap-On truck
With currency inherited from
Their father’s wallets
Picked out of faded leather
Generational gold
Obvious I am not one of them
Despite dressing down in jeans and boots
                        —my feet curving girlishly inward by a spiteful god—
I AM WOMAN
It’s painfully clear as they
Bump fists with men they’ve never met
And yet
Won’t look me in the eye
Gruff and tough and
Blow the house down
If women make up half the world, why
                        WHY
Do auto shops feel like the ultimate
Male stomping ground
Me big man you woman who don’t understand car
“What kind of car you bringin’ in today”
A Ford Escape
Don’t get it twisted: all-wheel drive;
Ford has classified my salt-stained SUV
As a truck
YES A TRUCK
Breathe in breathe out
Breatheinbreatheout
                        —am I on fire or freezing—
Barbed wire words explaining the simplicity
Of the repairs; patronization like
I don’t know a car needs a battery
Or where it goes
Like I didn’t try to take the goddamn thing out myself
                        —avoidance of the Guys failed only by Ford’s awful engineering—
I nod, pay, he won’t look me in the eye
Give me my receipt and I’ll
Make like my car:
Escape.

About the author:

Hannah Ryder holds an MFA from Savannah College of Art & Design. Her writing and photography is published in Great Lakes Review, Port City Review, and Qua Literary and Fine Arts Magazine. She currently lives in northern Virginia. Find more at hannahryder.com.

Header Image: Jahongir Ismoilov on Unsplash

One thought on “An Unlikely Place for a Panic Attack is Belle Tire

  1. Beautiful way of expressing what it is like living in a man’s world, when it comes to cars. And how man see’s women as less then equal when it comes to maintaining the car, how they make us feel inadequate.

    Liked by 1 person

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