I walk away from the mechanic having spent $356.66 on a new serpentine belt to replace the old one that had made hamster wheel sounds. It feels great to know that I finally have it all done now.  Last week has been a very taxing week with all the bills I had to pay. By no means are my bills greater than the average 29-year-old. I just don’t like having to spend money on excess fees.

On Columbus Day, a police officer had me pull over because of my expired tabs for which I incurred a $288 infraction. He had told me that I may be able to reduce the fine if I took care of it right away. Upon my urge to resolve the issue immediately I find out at the vehicle title office that my car is due for an emissions test which meant that I couldn’t get my tabs until after completing the test. So, I called the emissions testing center and find out it is closed on Big-Freaking-Deal Columbus Day! I could not stop mulling over the fact that there was this stupid infraction staring right back at me. At that moment I had begun to blame myself for not being careful. The tabs were clearly expired over 3 1/2 months. I should have known this but I didn’t because at the time I didn’t have a good way of keeping track of my tab renewal reminder letters for my three cars. I now have just one car so this way I will remember next time.

The next day I had made sure of driving my car to the emissions testing center right after my staff meeting at work. I had made sure to pick up an order of Chinese food from the market. There was a combo deal going on for just $5 which includes chow mein, fried rice and two entrees. I didn’t eat yet as I was planning on eating later to save time because the meeting just threw off my timing by an hour. I was ready to get on the road with the right mindset to get things done. It turned out that on the way I had become very lost. I kept passing by the emissions testing center or I would hit a dead end. It took me more than three drives back and forth to find the exact location. A kind man who worked at a construction company was able to point me in the right direction. The signs were confusing. The roads were even more so. Eventually I was able to reach the testing center and was relieved to find out that my car had passed emissions. I was happily (and hungrily) on my way to the vehicle title office when I saw a McDonald’s and decided on a nice, refreshing lemonade and a small iced water to go. I awkwardly made it to the end of the line just before snubbing a well dressed man with dark features. Sorry man, but this lady’s thirsty. Not allowing myself a proper respite yet, I hurried over to the title office, pulled a number tab, and sat down next to a woman who begrudgingly allowed me to sit next to her on a very old, yet sturdy, wooden bench. A brief moment later the same man who I snubbed in line sits next to me on the bench. Just then I see a fumbling man who forgot to bring his emissions paperwork which causes me to yell out “I’m number 05 I’ll be right back.” I hurry over to my car to get my paperwork and then I hurry back to the office. I’m called over to a representative who looked at me as if I were just as crazy as the fumbling idiot before me. I pay my fees. Just as I’m ready to put my tab on I glance over at the driver next to me who is also applying his newly paid for tab. I notice that I registered my car in June so I’m wondering why not get a tab for October? Then I rush in to see the same lady who had helped me before. I later learn from her that my registration month stays the same. So I go back to FINALLY apply my new tab on my license plate and I notice the same polished McDonald’s guy effortlessly removing his old tab and applying a new one. I’m looking at how ridiculous I had looked with my preschool scissors in my hand as I’m trying to get rid of the old tab. At that point I had given up and just slapped on the new tab. I pulled out of the driveway feeling a bit more relieved to be done with two things for the day. I pull into the driveway of a McDonald’s to enjoy my well deserved Chinese combo meal. It was probably the most satisfying meal in a long time. I glance at the time. It had read 3:50pm. There was one more thing I needed to do and that was to pay for my infraction. So I called the number to the place and learn it closes every weekday at 4pm.

I know there is a lesson in these turn of events. I’m not exactly sure of what I had learned but the only thing that is coming up is my fortunate misfortune of being able to relate to that fumbling idiot you see at the dmv sometimes. It is a waking reminder that I’m living in a reality in which there are ugly sides to life. It’d be great if life is easier but what will I learn if I’m not challenged by these random moments of unrest? So the next time you come across a disheveled individual while in queue at the movies, grocery store, dmv or wherever, please have the compassion to care about humanity. Save your judgemental glances for someone more deserving.

By the way, my infraction was reduced to a mild $50.