The Scarlet Letter Day (with apologies to Nathaniel Hawthorne)

It’s an old car with a lot of mileage. Some cars need more work than others and, as a previous owner of high-mileage cars, I know some inspections can be iffy at best.

As parents, we do a lot for our children. Loyal daddies and mommies are aware of the things Wife and I do for our miracles of Christ. Sometimes the things we do take a little longer than others.

One child needed their car fixed. It’s hard to do when they’re at school all day. I got the car after taking The Oppressed and The Boy to their school. After dropping them off, I stretch my legs for a nice morning walk to pick up the car. From there, it’s off to another garage for a sticker.

It’s an old car with a lot of mileage. Some cars need more work than others and, as a previous owner of high mileage cars, I know some inspections can be iffy at best.

This car fails inspection. Emissions. There’s a leak out of the exhaust. A neighbor who knows cars looks underneath and assures me the problem isn’t a big one and there’s a great place nearby that can get it fixed for us. My neighbors selling point? It’s a garage with a bunch of guys smoking and talking cars. Well, I quit smoking over 10 years ago, but if a car place is good enough for my car-savvy neighbor, by jump-start it’s good enough for me.

A rejection sticker on a car that failed inspection.
The Scarlet Letter

I take the car to get repaired. Job is done and I am on my way back to get the sticker… and it fails again.

No problem I tell myself. They offered me two options and I took the cheaper one. Maybe I should have taken the option that required more work and time. Shame on me. I go back to the garage that did the work and ask if I need a new part. They look at the car. People are visibly upset. There’s nothing wrong with the parts. They’re trying to get me to have work done at their garage so they can overcharge me. Stay there, they tell me. Have a seat. People are going to get to the bottom of this. One guy grabs the phone and asks for the phone number. He knows the place. Everyone knows the place. He just needs the phone number so he can talk to “them”. What’s he going to say? Should I follow him? Should I go live? Fight! Fight! Fight!

I don’t know what happened I just know I take a seat and wait for the saga to unfold. I also know they have donuts because the guy behind the desk takes me to the garage and presents a box of donuts. He offers me one. I accept because it’s been a long, harrowing morning and I’m worth it.

A white car sitting in the driveway in the morning of early autumn.
Off the bench and ready for action.

They look at the car. There’s some more work that needs to be done but they don’t see anything that would make the car fail inspection. Oh well. Hopefully, it’s something that we’re fixing now and won’t have to worry about for even longer now that we’re addressing it. And, did I mention they have donuts?

Nothing happened between the two garages. I thought there would be some drama. There was no drama. People just wanted to know where this place was that failed the car. I’m a little disappointed. I thought there would be a little something to spice up my morning.

I’m there for a little longer. Maybe an hour. The car comes back out. I pay for the work and return to the first garage for another attempt to pass muster. The car goes in. I hold my breath. Do I dare to peek inside? I do. I see the scarlet sticker removed and replaced with a sticker that passes inspection. Good boys and girls get stickers in school. This car was good and got a sticker. I feel like I’m standing on the podium as the National Anthem is playing while the medal – I mean sticker – goes on and the car is backed out. I thank the nice men for their time and drive home to tell Wife about my donut.

Author: bravedaddy

I am a househusband and stay-at-home parent. I offer this sanctuary to any parent, new or otherwise, to let them know they are not alone in their daily struggles and challenges to their sanity.

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