Car Chronicles (Upon Another Sleepless Night)

This marks the third night straight I’ve been unable to sleep. This is possibly the most “woe-to-my-first-world-problems” entry I’ve ever written. It’s meant to be funny, is supposed to be quite tongue-in-cheek, and probably comes across as rambling.

Saturday night was a “Back-to-Ottawa-BBQ-Birthday-Bash” for my lovely new roommate, during which I met a bunch of her friends and either won or lost terribly at Never-Have-I-Ever (no question, even though we stopped counting points long before we stopped playing) and had a moment of angry nostalgia (if one can call it that) going through some material things with company and had good conversations and went to bed too late and tossed and turned due to dehydration and a sore throat that marked the beginning of an end-of-summer cold.

Yesterday night was the cold proper, my unwillingness to leave the relative comfort of my bed to pop two generic brand nighttime cold pills, unproductive anxiety over the deep scrape I made in the driver’s side passenger door of my car after a bad parking attempt in a dim parking garage next to a concrete support. (I always was better at backing up than pulling through.)

Tonight is again the cold; medication ineffective against postnasal drip or congestion and incapable of rendering me drowsy enough to surrender to the sleep I need at this point. I’m still thinking about my damn car, about the repairs estimate that was about three times higher than I’d anticipated (and even my original guess was a tough pill to swallow). Time to hunt for other estimates. I’ve left my bed to study gastric physiology, or write apparently, because I’m sitting here typing run-on sentences.

I’m not actually all that upset. (About the car, that is. Or the lack of sleep, for that matter. It’s nothing new.) I mean, I was, in the moments during (I literally  l i s t e n e d  to the paint come off as I backed out, slowly, quite deliberately, seeing no other way of getting out of this. Sccchhhhhhhh. Was there a better way? Possibly. Probably. I’m not sure. I was feeling pressured by the line-up of cars waiting to park, held up by me. Awkward. The first part of the scrape was the deepest anyways) and immediately after.

Here’s the thing, though. It’s just a vehicle. It’s a material object. The fact that I cried over it shocked me. I remember laughing through my tears at some point, struck by the thought that this is exactly the kind of thing I do. Buy a new phone, a new laptop, toss it around, treat it poorly, improperly. Buy a new car, do the same. Treat expensive things as if they’re disposable, as though I have the means to live this way. A healthy-or-not moment of self-deprecation. I’m so negligent, haha. Whoops.

I don’t have the means to live this way, actually, though I acknowledge that I might give off that impression at times. I arrive at the collision center wearing professional clothing (I had a simulated clinic immediately prior), high heels (the flats I’d usually wear with this outfit have gone MIA and I needed appropriate shoes – re: not sandals), and sunglasses I don’t take off once because they’re prescription and whenever I wear them I forget to bring my normal glasses and seeing anything clearly without them on is literally impossible, seeing as I’m halfway blind (no, that wasn’t a joke, nor was that pun intended), with my shiny, brand-new, scraped car. Exactly one month old, feeling like a mother bringing her child to the emergency room because they ran off while she wasn’t looking and “it was only for a moment, I swear, I’m not usually this negligent.”

“At least it’s not dented,” I say to the estimate person, trying for cheerfulness and falling short. I’m tired, resigned. “Oh, it’s dented,” he replies, not bothering to check the other side for comparison. “The colour won’t match perfectly; you’ll want to blend it with the other door panel and the back quarter panel, on a car this new.”

(After the fact, I go back around, compared both sides – rule number one in medical examinations, when possible – and run my hand over the body. I drag my car-loving best friend outside for a second [unprofessional] opinion. If there is a dent, I can neither feel it nor see it.)

I stand inside while he tallies everything up, prints hands me the total estimate, nearly choke on the number, thank him for his time, drive home. Wonder if selling my kidney might be a viable option (just kidding) because that sounds more realistic than taking on a part-time job in the midst of studying. Try to call my mother, because she’ll understand. My boyfriend calls me as he’s leaving work, listens to me rant and ramble, patiently talks me out of attempting to paint my own car door, reassures me that it will be okay.

I didn’t tell the estimate person: Actually, despite this car being brand new, I don’t necessarily want the colour to match perfectly if I need to pay *this much* for “blending”. The car was painted under five weeks ago; the colour should be easy enough to match. The sun hasn’t had time to bleach my very standard colour. Even then, if the colour’s not perfect then so be it – I don’t have the luxury of caring about that. What I care about is my car not rusting this winter. I didn’t say: I don’t want to pay for you to disassemble my car door, bang out a dent no one can see, and then reassemble the whole thing. (An instant lesson of priorities and necessities in the first world.) Just remove the door, sand it down, prime it, paint it, clear coat it.

The fact that the estimate person assumed that I’d want those things bothered me. I thought, maybe it’s because I look like someone who doesn’t know that much about cars (which is true) but has the means to pay a premium repairs (which is false). Maybe this is just what repairs cost. Maybe I truly do have a dent. Maybe I should wear a potato sack to my next estimate (just kidding. I’m sorry. Really.)

In any case, it’s still just a car. No one’s hurt. What’s more, I can absorb the cost, probably without selling my kidney or raising my insurance premium. I’m lucky to be able to say that. This is such a small thing. It doesn’t matter in the slightest. If anything, it’s a lesson. Don’t (try to) park near cement polls. Avoid heels and sunglasses at body repair shops. Something along those lines.

I’m going to try to sleep.

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