An old foe visited me last week: car anxiety.
I suffered from it as a young man when I bought older cars with a ton of miles, most of my money going to make the monthly payments. There wasn't much money left for savings just in case something bad should happen to the car.
And it always did.
Mind you this was in the era of no cell phones so it wasn't unusual for a break down to happen in the middle of no where -- a.k.a. the entire Wisconsin Nort'woods. Once my car just shut down on Highway 53 as I travelled nort' to see my friend Tim who was then the Rice Lake correspondent for the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram. I walked for a couple miles along the godforsaken highway until a nice elderly couple picked me up and brought into the bustling town of Cameron where I could make some calls.
I slowly lost the anxiety as I was able to buy better cars, my salary continued to improve and I bought cell phones. If the car broke down, I had money to fix it. I could call for a tow. Everything would be OK. I lost car anxiety.
Now it's back.
The "check engine" light came on last week as did the break system light and a flashing cruise control light. A mechanic told me a couple years ago that car companies make the cruise control light flash because no one pays attention to the check engine light.
Now I don't have the money to fix anything but I still need a car. Forget the cell phone. The lack of money is the cause for the anxiety.
Experts in poverty and homelessness will tell you the biggest health factor affecting those groups is the stress. What can you accomplish when you don't know what the hell is coming next?
I eased into a Jiffy Lube, hoping an oil change was the simple answer. And yes, I was overdue and the oil reading read "no measurement" and for a short time the light was off.
Today, it's back on.
For those who like to believe that the life of the distressed is easy, I beg you to try it.
On second thought, don't.