When I left my parents’ house and was living on my own in an apartment, my father said he never worried about me. It wasn’t so much that he thought I could take care of myself. It was that when I was out of sight, I was out mind. This sort of philosophy has followed me much of my life. People always enjoyed being with me, but when I wasn’t around, they seldom thought to call. (When I was in my mid-twenties, I had a lot of friends who seemed to like me, but I got tired of being the one to carry the friendships, so one day I decided to wait until one friend called and then I’d check in with everyone. No one called. Not one person. Either they didn’t like me as much as I thought they did, or they succumbed to the whole “out of sight, out of mind,” mentality.)
Apparently, despite the spectacle I make of myself with my fifty-year-old iconic car and my fancy hats, I am forgettable. Though he denies it, my contractor forgets me, which is why, when I haven’t heard from him in a while, I text him to remind him I am still here and he still has work to do on my place. The text doesn’t get the work done because as he becomes involved in other things, I slip from his mind again. (Though to be fair, he did send someone out last week to pound down the metal edgings along my pathways without my reminding him.)
My car mechanic is the same way. Every week for the past few weeks, I’ve stopped by to find out what he’s doing about getting the part for my brakes, and every time he says he’ll drop by my house to take a photo of the necessary part. (The part he ordered didn’t fit, even though it was supposed to.) And every week, as soon as I left, he promptly forgot me.
I’m being halfway facetious with this “out of sight, out of mind” scenario because I could nag the poor workers until they finally showed up. But maybe they wouldn’t show up anyway. Considering how busy they are, even if they didn’t forget me, they probably wouldn’t be able to fit my atypical jobs into their schedule. And in a way it’s okay since this gives me a lien on their time, so that when emergencies arise, I feel comfortable calling. And they are very good about taking care of emergencies.
Are my brakes an emergency? They could have been. With all the nearby fires last week and all the evacuations, I would have been in a pickle if I had to evacuate. Of course, my neighbors would have offered a ride (if they remembered me), but then I’d have to leave my car behind. Generally, though, the brakes not working don’t qualify as an emergency since I walk to do local errands, and I go with a friend when she hits the “big city” to stock up. (We joke about the big city, but it’s merely a slightly bigger town with a Walmart.)
Today, as usual, I visited the mechanic’s shop, and he seemed a bit embarrassed when he realized that he’d spaced me again out last week. So he promised to come for sure today.
And he did.
Now that he has a picture of the part he needs, it’s just a matter of finding it. I did tell him about an air-cooled-VW parts place that has a help line, so if he can’t find the master cylinder, they might be able to help him get one. You can buy all the parts necessary to build your own classic VW Beetle from scratch, so it seems rather strange that something as important as the brakes would be hard to find, but what do I know. Even though I’ve had the car for fifty years, I still don’t know a whole lot about how it’s all put together. (I’ve actually learned quite a bit over the years, just not how to fix anything.)
The mechanic doesn’t need to remember me to order the part; he just needs to look for it, and I’m sure he will do so since a part is probably more memorable than I am.
Once the VW bug is fixed, maybe I’ll start bugging my contractor more frequently to see if we can get some of the work done around here. Maybe.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.