Inspection Station

I’ve been driving around with my car uninspected for eight months. My inspection sticker expired last November. I have zero valid reasons why I didn’t just go get it inspected sooner. I’ve been driving around on borrowed time.

According to the State of New Jersey-Motor Vehicle Commission:
“Driving a vehicle with an expired inspection sticker may result in fines between $100 and $200 and/or imprisonment for up to 30 days.”

I’d been practicing my excuses in case I got pulled over. My plan was to do one of those “shocked and surprised” faces. Like the kind Taylor Swift makes when she wins an award. *PLEASE NOTE I LOVE TAYLOR SWIFT!

But yesterday I decided to finally take the drive down the industrial Route 1 corridor to the Department of Motor Vehicles. It’s only a few miles from where I grew up. I pass the familiar fast food places, the Linden airport, the Walmart, and other big box stores. There are fenced in truckyards and factories. It’s not a pretty ride but it is a familiar ride. And sometimes those things are one in the same.

Not only was my 2004 Jeep way overdue for inspection, but I realized my 1968 self was also overdue for inspection. Yes, I just had my physical. Yes, I’m up to date on my pap smear and my mammogram. And yes, I’ll be scheduling my first colonoscopy this year. Honestly, I’m looking forward to the cleanse and the anesthesia.

I’m talking about emotional inspection. As a writer and a mom, I’m in a constant state of introspection. I get lost in my self-doubts and dreams and goals and find myself in a big bucket of wallow mixed with determination. But inspection involves taking a step outside of yourself. And that’s the hard part.

As I followed the arrows to the inspection station lanes, there was only one delay. It wasn’t a long line of cars in front of me. It wasn’t an issue with my license, registration, or insurance card. It was geese. Loud, honking, Canadian geese. A hundred of them blocking the road. Taking their sweet ‘ole goose time, crossing the road at their leisure.

I burst out laughing. Laughing until I was crying alone in my uninspected car. All this time I’ve waited to get inspected and I’m being stopped by geese. It was perfect timing.

I passed inspection. It was a very pleasant experience, in fact. A lovely man who called me “beautiful” and “sugar” no less than five times turned that cavernous garage into a insecurity-soothing party. It took under two minutes and I was on my way.

I was now street legal. No more practicing my Taylor Swift surprised face in case I got pulled over. No more putting “get car inspected” on my to-do list month after month. I finally just did it.

I recently confessed to a friend that I feel like an emotional mess. And that makes me so sad because my daughter deserves a better version of me. My friend’s response: “YOU deserve a better version of you.”

So even though I was driving around with an expired inspection sticker for eight months, it wasn’t too late for me to still pass. And it’s never too late to drive myself in for inspection. I hope those leisurely geese slow me down some days and cause me to laugh out loud until I cry. An ugly cleansing cry.


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