Yesterday was the date I had booked for my little 18 year old, wine coloured, much loved Toyota Starlet to have her once yearly, Government stipulated compulsory road worthiness test. It was a beautiful sunny, blue sky day, all the more awesome because the previous day, a Sunday, although only mid August was cold, wet, dark and screamed “winter’s here” with a sense of dread and loss at leaving our mediocre summer behind.
The NCT is not an event that’s taken lightly particularly when your car is as, lets say, “mature” as ours! A few weeks beforehand preparation began when the reminder notice arrived by e-mail or in some cases still by snail-mail, through the door. A service was booked with our local mechanic and following a thorough check-up some non-routine ailments were identified. The first thing she needed was new tyres and rightly so as those few millimetres of thread could be the difference between life and death particularly when weather and driving conditions deteriorate. Next up, brake pads and a new, unheard of ailment, brake shoes! Difficult enough kitting out children with new shoes going back to school but this took the biscuit. The funny thing is, we are not speed demons by any stretch of the imagination, constantly slamming on the brakes! The mystery unfolded when we were informed that if anything the problem was we were too kind to our Starlet and don’t use the brakes often enough! New wiper blades also featured on the “to do” list, but that was to be suspected…because of the vast amount of rain we’ve been getting!
So quietly confident our proud, gleaming Starlet queued for her NCT. A young member of staff took our keys and drove her into the check-up bay. Twenty minutes or so later we got back some glowing reports, amazing car – but then again, quite like her owner! But all was not well, she failed her test because her brakes were not good enough, they were off balance. This one tiny ailment upscuttled the apple cart and meant we did not have a clean bill of health and could not sail off into the sunset. Instead it was back to the local mechanic for another visit. All this got me thinking!
Is there anything we can learn from the dreaded NCT? Can we compare an ageing car to an average adult? Could a Government stipulated compulsory once per year health test be relevant to adults? Surely prevention is better than cure and taking time to check in on an adult’s “road-worthiness” could only be a good thing? Remembering to schedule regular check-ups should receive priority on our “to-do” list. Checking in with ourselves and giving ourselves some tlc would surely not be too much to ask. Maybe booking the advice of an expert is also recommended. After all who is better placed to spot any weaknesses and remedy them before they become full blown concerns. If the daily grind, particularly in times of recession, are, like the tyres “wearing you to a thread”, then navigating the next difficult or challenging bend could result in disastrous outcomes. Why ignore these tell-tale signs? Maybe it’s time to apply the brakes and take stock. The warning lights can easily be recognised, just like on the car’s dashboard. Broken sleep, fatigue, irritability, anxiety are just some of the alarm bells that constantly ring but fall on deaf ears! Maybe we need to apply our windscreen wipers and clear away the fog and silt that blurs our vision, helping us see life from a changed and improved perspective. Sadly because we are too busy, financially strapped or caught up in the endless pursuit of achievement, we forget to shift to neutral. We are afraid to sit in “idle”. Afraid to be perceived as lazy or underachieving. We forget that time spent doing nothing could be beneficial for our well-being. We foolishly wait until the engine breaks down or worse still ceases to function. In car terms that would be the “timing belt” gone, not a pleasant or easily redeemed outcome. Similarly for adults, a breakdown although not permanent in the majority of cases, is difficult for all concerned and takes its toll on the body and mind.
So can failing an NCT and having to schedule a re-test be a good opportunity to consider our own well-being? In my opinion it certainly gave plenty food for thought but I’ll leave the decision up to you!