IF IT AIN’T BROKE…
By: Lauren Anderson
This past week I had the um, how should I say this–unique–opportunity to bring my car to the shop not once, but TWICE. For the same reason.
So basically, I spent all week fretting and then trying not to, creatively moving finances around, and securing rides from A to B from kind-hearted individuals. On top of the normal stuff that makes up my week. It was total bologna.
And it also wasn’t ya know? It was troublesome to be sure, but I was also keenly aware that these are the annoyances that make up a modern life. And on the spectrum of things that can go wrong in a week of a human’s life in this country, I’ll take minor car trouble over a host of other options. Especially in this current climate.
But still aggravating as shhhhhhh right?!
All because my car was over-heating! But it still ran? It was so weird. Because it only over-heated when I was in stop and go traffic. Except I live Uptown, and I work Downtown, so I am perpetually in stop and go traffic.
But it wouldn’t overheat every time either! How confusing! And frustrating.
And it made me not trust my car.
It was like it was broken, but not. And I couldn’t tell if it was in my head, or driver error, or what? But my gut (and mostly my car-guru father) told me that something was off and I should just take it in.
It was a tiny miracle, but for the first round, they fixed my car and I was back on the road within a day! And check this out– NO CHARGE. I couldn’t believe my luck. I think because I have been loyal to this particular shop, they just decided to give me a freebie.
But to be honest, I didn’t ask why. I was like, Free Auto Repair? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Don’t mind if I do, Thanks!!! And I yoinked my keys out of the guy’s hand and drove away faster than he could say “Would you like a complimentary car wash?”
And everything was great for about 3 days. In fact, it was better than great. I had my previously broken air conditioner working again, and my car was running better than it has in a month. I was tooling around, jamming out, and just enjoying the ride.
And then BAM. My car overheats again. I roll to the curb and let it cool down for 30 minutes. Luckily I had someone with me who is excellent in a crisis, and we filled the time easily. Then to not ruin our plans, we pivoted back to their house, switched cars and were still able to make it to dinner and a movie with time to spare.
Again, not the end of the world right? But certainly vexatious. Yeah, I said it. Vexatious!
The next day, I brought my car back to the shop.
As I was sitting in their waiting room, readying myself to be picked up by yet another kind soul, I couldn’t help but think this whole car thing is an excellent allegory for how I sometimes treat my body.
Most of the time, especially since I’ve started working out on a more consistent basis, my body has felt better than it has in years. I feel stronger, more athletic, more capable, with better endurance and a newfound respect for maintenance.
Meaning, sometimes taking my body to “the box” feels like getting my oil changed before the oil light goes on. Getting my tires rotated before one of them goes bald. Topping off my windshield wiper fluid before I dare go down another dirt road.
You know, maintenance stuff. And then there’s this weird, super ADULT elation that occurs when I manage to nip something in the bud before it becomes an issue. Because this is not easy for a type like me. Ticking off to-do boxes, and paying bills, and adjusting my insurance rate– makes me want to crumble to my knees and barf myself into a deep sleep.
But on the rare occasion when I manage to be on the offensive, as opposed to the defensive?
Cause I don’t know about all of you, but sometimes I feel like I’m just running to catch up with my life. Like there’s all these things that I have to stay on top of, and if I let anything drop, the proverbial wheels of my life fall off.
And my body, and it’s maintenance get shuffled into all that too. In fact, sometimes it’s the thing I take the most for granted. Not eating foods that fuel me. Not getting enough sleep. Not making the gym a priority. And then just like my car, my body starts to you know… OVERHEAT.
And my body can continue to run, but now suddenly it’s not as reliable as it once was. I feel more nervous to take it out for a spin. Because at any moment it could stall on the ramp during rush hour.
(I’m really having fun with this analogy… can you tell?)
So back at the auto shop, 5 hours and 500 hundred dollars later, my car is fixed. The guy swiping my credit card at the counter is walking me through what they fixed and replaced, and he goes:
“Well it’s good that you brought it in when you did. Cause you could’ve driven your car this way for a lot longer, but if the X, Y, or Z (He said real car parts here, but I don’t remember them.) went out, this could’ve been it for your car.”
I nod. I understand. I’m lucky I got it in when I did. Because even though this car has been a lot of hassle in the time I’ve had it, right now it’s the only one I’ve got.
Annnnnd now I’m thinking about my body again.
This body has done an excellent job in getting me where I need to go on a pretty consistent basis. But I would be lying if I said it hasn’t also been a real friggin hassle. It’s cost me a lot of money, and time, and energy (and ahem, therapy) just to deal with it.
But just like my car, it’s the only one I’ve got. So I think it would behoove me to take care of it right?
And better preemptive than postmortem.
On the drive home, I crank the tunes, and I turn up the now-working-again A.C. I’m grateful for the cool air, and another chance to treat my car better. And I’m secretly grateful for the reminder about my body too.
Right now, my body ain’t broke. In fact, it’s far from it. So I don’t need to “fix” anything.
But maintenance? Well that’s another story.
I don’t need to rely on luck, or chance. There is some adult stuff I can do every day to keep things running smoothly. I already know what they are. I’ve just got to remember to actually DO THEM.
It takes a little work to do for a personality like mine, but I have more power to control the outcome of these wagons than I think.
Because whether it’s a car or a body, I love riding in a reliable vehicle.
Especially with a working air-conditioner, and the song-of-the-summer blasting.