Quick Inspection

I got there at 8:30AM. I tried to be there at 8, but my usual sloth habits are rather incompatible with a morning scramble. In my rush out of the door, I forgot to put on sunscreen, gave up the task of taking out the garbage, and refrained from checking messages on the phone. The possibility of people sending me messages after midnight, the last time I checked my phone, is rather slim, but still it’s a morning ritual to make sure that no messages have come when I am sleeping. Not today though.

About ten days ago, I came to the inspection site and found an endless line of vehicles waiting–at least 250 of them by my estimation. I had to leave. There’s no way I could queue in my car for more than two hours–what can people do if they want to pee? I wondered.

Last Saturday when I was running around completing my tax filing, I saw the inspection site open and the line is shortened to its usual size–between ten and twenty cars. I felt the urge to stop by and get the inspection done then and there, but I am not an impulsive person. Even though my life is littered with regrets of not following my instincts and do things on the spur of the moment, I can’t change myself. My mind was all set on the goal of finishing the tax first that I have no choice but to follow the pre-arrangement.

I arrived at the inspection site and was at first astonished to find that cars all parking along one side of the road outside. At first I thought those were cars waiting for inspection and my heart sank. Then I realized they were for people who went to the motor vehicle office, the parking lot of which had been full and people had to park their cars along the road leading to the office. What a relief. The inspection line is not long at all and it’s split into two, one inner circle and one outer circle. A man in a yellow T-shirt waved me to the outer circle, which I instinctively knew would be a slow line. So I waited. I thought of putting on the music for a moment, but decided against it. I know people who put on the car music all the time, even if when people are talking in the car. With the background music, I feel like being in a restaurant without food whenever riding in his car. I dislike music in a car because it disrupts my thought–not that I have a lot of worthy thoughts. I don’t, but I like more to stay with my thoughts than listen to music. It’s true most of my random daydreaming thoughts are terribly mundane, unworthy, like a story by a rambling author on a tedious topic. All junk thoughts, but still I prefer them.

They were obviously overworked. Two years ago, and another two years before that, they used to entertain themselves by giving one or two comments on my old car, or talking among themselves on something, or reciprocating a question with an answer half jokingly, half bored, as if to say, “is this it? Any fresh questions? I have answered this question a thousand times before.” But now they hardly have the energy to look at me, let alone to talk. From their tone of asking me to stop, to push the driver seat backward, to hand over credentials, to step out, I knew they wanted to get me out of there as soon as they could.

As I left, with a sticker with a big number 6 in the middle and 2022 underneath, I felt the relief and the happiness coming from the relief–even such an insignificant inspection could be a struggle during a pandemic. I wish everybody working there healthy and virus free. I hope the world can be normal again.

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