The driver in the blue Honda in front of me braked suddenly without warning. The sun had just started to go down in the horizon and the reddish-amber sky matched the Honda’s red brake lights. Fortunately, I had been paying attention and was able to break easily to avoid an accident.
Traffic on the four lanes of highway going into Washington, D.C. and the four leaving the city were crazy. I had driven the highway countless times over the past six months since I first started dating my girlfriend (who would later become my wife). However, on this day, I felt like the traffic was especially hectic, in part because I was driving my new car.
My old Renault, which one of my brother’s had graciously handed down to me, had seen me through thick and thin until it had nothing left to give and had finally given way. After a late night of work, it had left me stranded me.
I needed a car to get to my first real job as a newspaper reporter. The job didn’t pay a ton so I had to be careful in how much I paid for a car. I poured over car advertisement after car advertisement, went back and forth with a saleswoman at a local car dealership, and purchased my first new car, a Geo Storm. (Before you laugh, I got a great deal on it.)
I drove off the lot happier and prouder than I had ever been in my life. I was making something of myself (or so I thought).
Famous last words
In any event, two days later I had to travel the 175 plus miles to visit my girlfriend. I considered skipping the trip or requesting that she come visit me. I worried about driving the car fresh from the dealership to the big city. However, the more I thought about it, the more I pooh-poohed the caution. I had purchased the car for this very reason. It was meant to be driven.
Or so I thought.
As luck would have it, my car wouldn’t be scratch-free for long. Within a half hour of my girlfriend’s apartment, I pulled into the right lane to get onto the George Washington Parkway. I loved the parkway, a.) because it meant I was on the homestretch and b.) because the tree-filled drive was a much more relaxing ride.
I took care to drive with defensive caution, but still fast enough not to cause any accidents. Today though the drive wouldn’t be so relaxing. As I prepared to get off the highway, a driver in a dirty white pick-up track nailed me from behind. In that one instant, my new car, my baby, went from gleaming new car to damaged goods.
Fortunately for me the car was drivable and I was able to sort of enjoy my weekend with my girlfriend. Two days later, I dropped off the car back at the dealership. I peppered the service department manager with questions on how soon I would get the car back and if it would drive the same. He assured me that it would be fine. But he seemed more interested in the clock and leaving for lunch then helping allay any of my concerns.
I’ve never been a patient person. I never been the type to let things just work themselves out. For the next several days, I drove by the dealership every chance I could get to check on my car. Every time I drove by, the car remained in the same spot. It never moved. One day turned into two, three into four. Days turned into weeks. They seemed to drag and drag working on my car.
Finally, after four weeks and me on my last nerve, the service department finally called to tell me my car was done. I think I cried. I shuffled my schedule to get a ride to the garage and picked it up the very same day.
Still lacking patience
I thought about that car recently while I waited for my mechanic to replace my car inspection sticker. We had a crack in our front car window and had to have the window replaced and thus needed a new sticker.
Twenty some years later and I’m still not very patient. I stood the whole time in the waiting room gulping down the swill they called coffee questioning why it was taking so long.
I looked up with a hopeful face every time a service supervisor came into the lobby area to notify a customer that their car was done. I kept waiting for him to call on me.
My turn finally comes
“It takes longer to actually get the car inspected. What’s going on? What’s taking them so long? I could have put the new sticker on myself in the time that it’s taking them.” I thought to myself.
In another breath, I told myself that “I need to find a new mechanic.”
And I waited and waited, until the service manager finally pointed to me and said my car was done. I let out a deep breath. I’d like to say that I’m a calmer person than I was years ago, but I know better: I’m still as inpatient as I’ve ever been.
Some things never change.
When I got home later that night, though, I was quick to give my wife a hug and thank God for protecting us that day. I may not be any more patient, but I’m certainly more grateful for life’s (little and big) blessings.