Recently I stepped into a realm that I try to avoid: the criminal realm.
I forgot to get the car inspected.
It just sneaked up on me. There I was, driving carefully and cautiously, using turn signals faithfully, even congratulating myself on the fact that both vehicles were legally registered with PennDOT for another year. And irksomely, out of nowhere, a thought leapt into my mind: inspected? Hmmmmm.
By the time I’d come to a permanent stop and stepped out of the car, the thought was gone. I never glanced at that stupid little sticker on the windshield. When I did remember to check, a few days later, a horrified gasp escaped me. Yep—expired. Not just expired: a couple of days expired.
I called the dealership in a panic, told them my sad, scatterbrained story. They were untouched; they’d heard it before, I’m certain. They had no openings for a week. But, but, I have to drive places! We need food! We need to go to church! We need to tour the preschool on Monday!!! Couldn’t you…? No, they couldn’t. Thursday was the day.
I took the appointment and said a prayer that the police wouldn’t notice my very basic, beige-ish little sedan scooting unlawfully around the area. We cancelled some unnecessary trips, continued on the local jaunts that couldn’t be avoided, and to make a long story short, we made it. I wasn’t stopped during that week, and the car passed inspection on the designated day.
But the brief foray into lawlessness reminded me that, quite frankly, I’m not cut out for this lifestyle. I’m a pansy, a wimp, a coward. I do not have the personality to dwell outside of the established boundaries of legality. I don’t mind not fitting in, and I’ve long grown accustomed to being unstylish. Although I occasionally yearn for some of the current electronic gadgetry, I’ll also readily admit that to me, Bluetooth sounds like a horrible dental condition.
And yet…I am not comfortable being outside of the law. I fear the men in blue. I know they’re my friends, UNLESS. And when I’m functioning in the “unless” state, I cower and cringe and glance over my shoulder. My week or so of being uninspected brought back every other time I’ve been outside of the law. And don’t try to tell me you don’t know what I mean. Come on, now. You can think of some experiences you’ve had when you weren’t playing by the book, either.
The whole week, every time we set foot in that car, my heart beat with trepidation. Every siren or flashing light caused a little quake in my soul. I was uneasy. I felt guilty; I felt like a scofflaw.
So, next year, I’ll try to be more on top of things. Because it’s the responsible thing to do, of course—but mostly because I’m not cut out to be a criminal. It’s downright unbecoming on anyone, and especially so in the mirror.