Your Car is Ready, Ma’am

Like a lot of other teenagers, I couldn’t wait to be an adult. I remember the excitement I felt when I first got to drive alone, and even now I love having what I call “car conversations.” Back in high school, I would drive my friends around and when I dropped them back off at home, we’d spend a good thirty or forty minutes in the car talking. Whether it was sitting in the car with a good friend or with my boyfriend, car chats seemed magical somehow. We could dream about the future, sort out the present, and remember the past, all within the confines of a family sized sedan. Pretty much the only thing I had to do for this privilege was to not irritate my parents too much, and to occasionally wash the car.

In college, I got a little more ownership of the car: I started paying for gas, and I could drive people further distances. I learned how to entertain myself during a five hour drive on my trips home for three years from Southern California back to the Central Valley. I enjoyed the company of a a couple of other girls who had chosen to attend the same university as me, but for the most part, I spent that time alone. I memorized some radio stations and found a couple favorite gas stations to stop at that broke up the drive for me. Mom and dad even helped pay for my couple of incidents where I bumped into some stationary objects that were hiding in my blindspot.

Fast forward a few years and a couple of car exchanges with my parents. Now, the car is fully mine. I purchased it from my parents last summer, and got it new tags when I moved up to Washington, so that the car are I wouldn’t stick out so much as being outsiders with a licence plate that boldly declares “I’m not from here.” With that move, I now get to pay for my own insurance, maintenance and repairs. My primary vehicle use is not for meaningful conversations. Instead, it’s for driving my 25 mile drive down the 5 freeway to work and back. By myself, with only the company of radio  DJs streaming over the air waves.I got a tire changed today and made an appointment for them to further check out an ominous knocking noise that’s coming from the back of my car. I sat in the waiting area at Les Schwab watching CNN commentators discuss the results of the GOP New Hampshire Primaries. The man who had changed my tire walked back inside with my keys and said, “Your car is ready, Ma’am.” I almost looked around to see who he was talking to because even with the financial responsibilities I now carry, I still don’t feel like a ma’am.

Can someone please remind me why I was in such a hurry to grow up? Why didn’t I listen to my parents when they said, “things aren’t all they seemed to be, but to truly learn this, just wait and see.”