Saturday, October 21, 2006

Every year I complete an emissions test because it is required by law, and every year I donate 15 dollars to the state so they don't impound my car. I don't mind the ten minutes it takes to get the test, but sometimes it seems pointless. For the last three years my car has passed the test with ease, so I find it somewhat monotonous to keep testing for carbons.

Today changed my perception, though. As I drove up to the emission mobile to have my car tested, the guy who has tested my car for the last three tests didn't step out. Now, it's not like I expect him to give me alacritous service; but I've grown accustomed to seeing him as I pull up with my car. Initially it shocked me to not see him even though I only see him once a year. My mind slightly wondered if perhaps he had quit. However, as I parked the car and walked toward the mobile door, I saw the same elderly gentleman who had tested my car years hence. He was sitting in a fold-able chair in the van slightly slouched over while sleeping. He looked peaceful in his slumber, untouched by the speeding cars that roared by on the street next to his place of work. I somewhat hesitated to wake him out of fear of startling him, so I simply knocked on the van door. The knocking instantly awakened him and he stepped out of the van. I pretended that I hadn't seen him asleep as he greeted me with a warm "Hello sonny!" and quickly went to work by placing the testing apparatus in the hood of the car.

When the test was done he explained my results to me (my car has some crazy low emissions to the point that it's practically eco-friendly!) as he had done years before in the same friendly fashion and then wished me a good weekend. I replied the same to him and drove away.

As my car drove down the road toward my residence I began to think about this man and his life. He was a kind elderly man who seemed to enjoy his job as evidenced by his exclamation when my car passed with such low emissions; but there was something more. He seemed somewhat worn since that last time I saw him, as if life had taken a toll on him. This was obviously reasonable since I hadn't seen him for a year, but even so I thought about him and his life. In his age, I thought, he should be doing more with his life. This man had obviously retired from what he had been doing before, so why was he working this job? Why not travel? Why not go fishing? Why stay around and help people with their cars when there is more to enjoy out of life before it's over?

Perhaps I've been watching too much Six Feet Under, but it appeared to me like this jolly man needed to take a step away from this job and live life while he had enough left to live. Catch the breeze while fishing or take a snooze while watching the sunset in the tropics. Something else, anything else. It's got to be better than being there, even if only for a day. Or, maybe, work keeps him going everyday? I will probably never know his motivations, but I do know that whatever they may be; I hope he is happy and taking in each breath with purpose. After all, you only have so much time to live; make the most of it.


RockSteady said...

Have you been watching Six Feet Under re-runs on Bravo like I have been? Oh, I'm so happy!!! Monday nights are good again!

Anyway, I was pondering your ponderings, and I asked my dad what he plans on doing once he retires two years from now. He said he was thinking of getting a part-time job as a bartender or a host at this restaurant we've been going to since I was about... a fetus. I asked him why he would want to work after a lifetime of working, and he said it makes him feel useful, and needed. Plus, he likes the interaction with other people. He said he will travel, and he'll do other things, but that work is just so much a part of life now that it's good for him. And I think I get that, you know?

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