About a week ago, the brake pad warning light went off in my car. My “I have never driven a day in my life” mother was in the car with me. Although she doesn’t know how to drive, she is very nosy about my car. She’s always looking to see what new toys I’ve left in it, if it’s clean, if it’s got a scratch, if I have fresh Kleenex in it.
Her near obsession with the state of my car meant she noticed the warning light the minute she got into the car. After a few questions about what the light identifies, started days of fighting about how I would handle the light.
You would think, “Oh, I’m taking it to the shop to get fixed” would end the conversation. But you would be wrong and talking about someone else’s mother.
From the moment she saw the brake light, every conversation was about servicing the car. When would I make the appointment to take it in? Had I made the appointment? Was I driving? Why was I driving? Why was I driving it to the appointment? Why wasn’t I the kind of person who cared more about her car?
Now, nothing irks me more than being harassed for something I have already done (in this case, I really didn’t appreciate my non-driver, non-car owner, bus pass dependent mother harping on what a horrible person I am for the state of my brakes, when I had already made the appointment to get them checked). So, my daily check-in with my mom (yes, I am the kind of daughter who, by some cosmic rule of dutiful daughter procedure, has to call her mother every day) started like this:
Me: Hi mom, how are you this morning.
Her: You know, I was talking to the neighbor and he said he thought something was wrong with your car.
Me: Mom, does he have x-ray vision? Because the only thing wrong with my car is a warning light and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t in my car while it was on.
Her: I didn’t say it was a “he” and you just don’t take care of your stuff.
Me: Mom, I know it’s a “he,” since you’re not talking to the “shes” in the neighborhood right now. Plus, I’m going to hang up now. This conversation is not productive.
Some form of this fight went on every one of the four days I was recently out of town and physically unable to drive the car to a mechanic. It went on for the two days I was back before I could get an appointment with the mechanic. It went on today, the day after I dropped the car at the mechanic’s shop . . . for about eight hours.
Then, as if the world had decided to help me, during the very conversation where I eagerly let her know that I was getting the car back (“eagerly” because I just wanted to stop the agony of this whole experience), the obsession radically shifted as she revealed she’d lost her bus pass.
She’d carelessly dropped it out of her purse, or pocket, or something, but she had lost it during today’s travels to and from the grocery store. She was devastated. Her source of travel freedom, random experience, and even just odd conversation on a lonely day was gone.
Of course I’m sad for her, and of course I’ll help her replace it, but just a little part of me is glad that she has something else to obsess about tomorrow.