Having a car entails a lot of expense and time. I found out again about the time this past Friday when we discovered that we needed an emissions inspection for Becky’s car. I couldn’t do it Friday, but I figured I would get up early Saturday and have it done in half an hour.
Since I usually had the inspection done early in the month, I didn’t know about the hordes of procrastinators who descended on inspection stations all over the area. When I pulled up to the Exxon about 7:15 (it opened at 7:30), there were two lines of about five cars each. The person I had talked to at the station the night before said an inspection took 15 to 20 minutes, so, thinking there were two inspectors (one for each line), I anticipated an hour and forty minute wait, tops, a small price to pay for putting it off. I had my laptop and sat in the grass beside the line of cars, calmed by a cool breeze, and worked on my latest novel. (Mata’s Story, if you’re keeping track.)
First of all, there was one inspector, so my anticipated wait time increased to three hours twenty minutes. The cost/benefit ratio was sliding toward the unfavorable side, but I stayed on. I’d have it done and not have to worry about it, right?
Whoever I talked to hadn’t been watching the inspection line, because each inspection took more like half an hour. One lady’s car was in the bay for 45 minutes. My wait time increased as I watched. By 10:30 I was number five in line, with a wait time of two and a half to three and three-quarters hours. At worst, I would be done by 2:15 and would have spent much of the day in line. I called Becky, and she sensibly said to give it up and come home, which I did. I found out the station was open the next day, Sunday, and figured the line would be shorter.
I drove over after church the next day about 12:15, and my spirits rose when I thought I saw three cars in line. I thought I’d be done in an hour and a half.
Driving up, I couldn’t see the line of cars that snaked around the perimeter. There must have been twenty of them, and I didn’t even want to calculate how long they would have to wait. However long it was, they’d be there past the closing time of 2 PM, and I wondered if the inspector would accommodate anyone in line or send them home. I didn’t want to wait around to find out, so I resolved to come over early the next morning, risking driving the mile and a half on expired tags. I had heard that if the police stopped you, all you had to do was explain that you were going to have the inspection done and they would let you go on your merry way.
I thought thought there wouldn’t be much of a line, but I’d thought that before. There couldn’t be that many lawbreakers, could there? I came upon the station.
I was right.
There was one car in line, and although the inspector was 15 minutes late, I was done by 8:30 and on my way home.
What did I learn from this experience? First, have the cars inspected early and often. Second, never underestimate the ability of people to procrastinate. Third, I’m a terrible judge of human behavior. And fourth, if you think you’re going to be a while, take something to amuse yourself with. Or, failing that, take a pillow and have a nice nap. You’re going to be there for a while, so you might as well be comfortable. And good luck.