Got the car inspected today. Thankfully, it passed. As well it should, given we recently pumped over $1,200 worth of repairs into it. Still, its odometer reads 146,902 miles and a car can’t last forever, as people don’t. The anxiety of sitting there waiting for the judgment to come down — the judgment of one man with bad teeth, neglected skin and a dorky hat — can seem unbearable. And not so good for one’s own health.
Ours is probably not the safest car in the world, just as I’m not the fittest person in the world. Given the precisely wrong alignment of circumstances, this 2005 Honda Element (they don’t make ’em like they used to? They don’t even make ’em anymore) could prove a death trap like any car on the block.
Yet it got its sticker, a free pass for another year to terrorize the streets, like a gold star from a fussy piano teacher for having mastered this week’s etude.
In another state, under a different set of measures, it might not have qualified as “safe.” Even at another garage, a different greasy guy who might have been grouchier that day or more nitpicky or didn’t like the way I looked might have slapped on the blanched circle with a spike through it, that symbol of shame with which I would have paraded around marked as if with a scarlet “A” for 15 days and eventually pay through the teeth to spare society, those other drivers I share the road with, to get whatever it was “fixed” — or merely passable — up to the standards of some random guy’s random judgment.
It’s like going to get your bloodwork done or getting a physical and waiting anxiously for results. As if these gauges will finally tell me what I’m about, as if any of it would come as a surprise. At some point the numbers dictate how many pills I have to take, how big a dent in my disposable income I suffer, how great a percentage of my toiling at work gets rechanneled back into merely extending my days tethered to my desk.
Is my BMI within the arbitrary scale for what’s “normal” as decided by some mid-19th-century Belgian statistician, Adolphe Quételet, whom no one has ever heard of and was probably a freakishly built endomorph who suffered from apoplexy (which he did), massive internal bleeding, ensuring he weighed significantly less than your typical red-blooded, prepping-for-a-doomsday-famine American?
No. Yeah, I’m not normal. Once again, I’m off the charts. An alien who cannot pack herself into the confines of what it means to be safely human and live an expected average life span of 81.2 years because I behave beyond the limits of what’s needed to merely survive. I miscalculate every day the amount of stored energy I need vs. what I expend, writing instead of running, reading instead of reaching for it, getting inspired instead of physical. I don’t need any bad-girl sticker, people can just look and see the internal imbalance.
But the car passed the test. I might have a heart attack or stroke behind the wheel, but the vehicle is A-OK, my ticket to tool around among unwitting mortals another year. Don’t have to sweat this again until March 2014.