The Assignment:

“WAG #11: Scaredy-Cat” Another people-watching exercise! Choose a stranger and observe him/her for a little while. Now give them a phobia. A full-on, jump on the chair, scream like a little girl, unreasonable fear. (Or however you imagine them to respond.) Try to choose something that fits the person you’re watching, and let us know what it is about them that clued you in to their secret fear. The object is not just to describe the fear, but to make us understand why it fits with this particular person.

My attempt:

The hydraulic ramp lifts the car above the inspection pit with ease. Even so, the mechanic is sweating, his brow damp and shiney, reflecting the bare glow of the pit light. Once it reaches the required height he places a hand on the side and pulls down with effort, as though the ramp, strong enough by far to hold the weight of the car safely in the air, will tumble with the added force of his thin muscles. The mechanic collects his tools. Ready to climb into the pit he is unable to do so without once more checking the ramp. His brow furrows and he clambers down under the car. He tries to concentrate on the task in hand. He tries not to think about the ramp dropping with skull crushing speed, or limbs trapped or even severed by the weight of the car. He wants to run but thoughts of getting fired again keep him where he most fears to be.

The phobia:

My mechanic is suffering from barophobia, the fear of gravity or being crushed. Not sure if that is an irrational fear. I suppose it depends on context. When under a car supported by a safe, reliable hydraulic lift then maybe so. In danger of falling from a thirty story building then I would say fear of gravity is entirely rational.

Stimulus: Sat watching the work being done at my local garage this morning while waiting for them to fix the latch on the boot of my motor. I saw the guys climbing under cars and got to thinking about how often cars get dropped on them. One did actually check the ramp more than once, which is just one step away from OCD.