I finally took my car in today for its regular maintenance. I know people sometimes look through medicine cabinets. Have you every wondered what people think when they look in your car?
Your car can tell a lot about you. What kind of car do you have? What gadgets do you have? Have you decorated the outside? What’s lying around inside?
My car is a black 2004 Saturn Ion. Supposedly many teachers own Saturns, and I am no exception. It’s year tell you it’s either used or that I plan on running it into the ground, and the second is true. I chose black just like my father did because it doesn’t show dirt. The front bumper is cracked with a piece missing from the time that I drove over a parking median near the old vet’s office. There are white creases in the plastic front left bumper from the couple of times I misjudged my entry into the garage.
The back bumper is spattered with bumper stickers with quotes from Jimi Hendrix, Gandhi, and the Native Americans. I also “choose natural health,” have a blue and yellow equal sign that symbolizes equal rights for all, and a blue and white “Coexist” a bumper sticker, created with symbols from various religions. My “I love Shaklee” license plate holder completes the picture, adding to my non-conformist hippy-mobile. My license plate is just standard numbers. I have no fake baseballs penetrating my rear window nor any stick-figured family members or pets lining the bottom of it.
The tires are likely low from negligence, and the oil sticker reads 9/14/12 as the next recommended oil change date. The engine light used to periodically flash, but no one would see that now; that stopped when I replaced my gas cap. (Really? Yes, truly.) And every so often my left blinker switches to double-speed, but no one would catch that because it immediately returns to normal the following day.
The inside is sparse. I bought the cheapest model possible, right off the lot. I’m the only person I know who actually still rolls down her windows and double-checks that everyone has locked her own door. The only access I have to music are my quirky CD player and radio, which both randomly mess with me, deciding the controls no longer function, holding fast to one station, or quitting and not playing anything at all. The digital clock is just as possessed, creating strange new numerical symbols and impossible times like 8:98.
The inside is a visual cacophony, though I try to clean it out periodically. Today a recently used smoothie glass is perched in the drink holder to the right of the driver’s seat. On most days I might have an empty mug (which houses my energy tea) and possibly a bowl and spoon nearby, the remnants of my Ezekiel cereal breakfast. Often I have a water bottle that begins in the other drink holder spot, but falls out due to the shallowness of the indentation and then rolls around in the passenger side of the car. The passenger’s seat usually houses my purse and whichever book I am reading at the time; lying against the seat is my large, decrepit accordion that is stocked to the brim with my gradebook, plan book, meeting notes, and papers upon papers to grade. To the immediate left of the steering wheel are some granny-looking sunglasses that fit over my regular prescription glasses that Brian likes to laugh about every time I put them on. In the middle compartment are gas receipts, a cat hair remover, my voice recorder, and various pencils and pens. Hanging from the back of it is the charger for my GPS, my lifeline to the world of new destinations.
The back seat and wells below are strewn with various children’s non-fiction and fiction books. Some are in a black bag that also houses random tutoring supplies and folders. A backpack houses my writing workshop folder and materials. Besides these items, you find an extra sweatshirt or jacket, my Australian outback hat that I use for writing workshop, and — in the winter — an ice-scraper/snow-brush. My trunk has a small bag of clothes that have yet to be dropped off at Goodwill, donated books that await the library, and jumper cables. The dashboard is dusty, crumbs are scattered about the front floor of the car, and a few seat spots have a slight yellow tint from my dusty softball days.
So, what does a mechanic think when looking at my car? Does she see the teacher, tutor, writer, reader, cat-loving, softball-playing hippy? Or a seemingly disorganized slob who could use a new car? Who knows? But I wonder. What do you think your car says about you?