Yesterday I brought my car for its NCT test. There is something about a car that can often bring out the worst in people. Cars are like our own little people. We love them. We want them to succeed. We have no choice with our parents or our kids. That’s why cars are special. We picked them. We bought them.
I have a 2002 Opel Corsa and I love it. It is better than so many bigger cars I know. I would prefer a 2011 Corsa, but I can’t afford it. But that’s ok. My mother brought me up to realise that I can’t always have everything I want.
Yesterday my car was sparkling. I was so proud. It may not have been new but it looked new, except for the small hole in the bumper that was there when I bought it. Not my fault.
There is also something about failure that brings out the worst in people. I am no stranger to failure and I have always handled it with my usual philosophy, i.e. I didn’t study enough, or the job wasn’t for me etc.
I don’t know why yesterday was different.
The man who handed me the white printout indicating I had failed instead of the green cert I was expecting was emotionless. Not me. But then again it was not his car. The problem was that one of the tyres needed replacing. My low mileage, well minded, ‘02 Opel had a perished tyre.
‘But how could that be?’ I asked. ‘The tyres are almost new, hardly used.’
‘But that’s the problem,’ the man told me. The greater the usage the stronger they get, providing,’ he added with emphasis, ‘they are well balanced.’
Well I couldn’t win, could I? Use them too much and the tread wears down, don’t use them enough and they perish.
‘I am going to blow up,’ I said to the nice man who was from Bratislava.
‘I think you mean the tyres blow out’ he said in his broken English.
‘No,’ I said, ‘at least give me the language thing, its blow up. Explode.’
‘Yes,’ he said like perished tyre.
I learnt a lot from my NCT about cars, tyres and people. Tyres are sort of like people too. When the thread gets worn down it loses its grip on the road. And we have to thread carefully with people. People can get worn down too and lose their grip on life. So we must be kind.
And tyres need to be well balanced to keep the car safe. But equally we have to ensure that we have to remain well balance emotionally and physically to look after our nearest and dearest.
I also learnt about air pressure in tyres. Too much can cause a blow out leading to a serious accident. Equally we can all expend too much energy and a lot of useless hot air expressing opinions that can end up being harmful to ourselves and others.
And of course, tyres perish from lack of use. Just like ourselves. We have to keep motoring on even when we don’t feel in humour. Tyres gain strength from the pressure of the road and the odd bump of two here and there. Just like ourselves.
But equally tyres that are too soft can get damaged by the friction of the road and even ignite. So don’t become too soft in your dealings with life. You can become seriously deflated. And that’s not good either.
My NCT taught me a lot about my car but even more about myself. From Monday I’m letting go of any un-necessary pressure. I’m going to try to become well balanced. Not that I’m not already! Just ask my family and friends and the Bratislava guy at the NCT centre! I’m going to try to smile at the world. No more friction. The tyres can be replaced in twenty minutes. But I’m irreplaceable. So are you.
(c) Eithne Reynolds