domino effectI do not believe everything happens for a reason. I just can’t. However I do believe in dominos. I know that an event can trigger another event which will, in turn, be the reason for yet another event.

I believe that dominos that have been set into motion can suddenly stop.

I also believe that they can fall in unpredictable ways.

I am going to present to you the events of my Friday. It was a day where neglectful choices became bad choices and dominos fell.

I achieved a total of 3 hours of sleep thursday night.

This led to my being (more) emotional, short-tempered, and spacey on Friday. This information does not alter or shape what happened, I just share it because OMG I only got 3 hours of sleep.

I had a work meeting friday morning in an office.

This meant that I could not go home and rest after dropping W off at school.

For reasons that are not necessary to know I decided to pick W up from school early on Friday

This led to great anticipation of a nap.

After I picked up W, and just a few blocks away from his preschool, I noticed a police officer behind me.

A block after noticing the police officer his lights lit up and he indicated that I should pull over. I was asked to provide the usual collection of paperwork. The police officer asked me if I knew why I had pulled over. I had a feeling, but I stammered to allow for him to fill me in.

My state inspection sticker was expired.

Yup. The thing I kept putting off renewing until the next paycheck was now expired and I was moments away from a giant ticket.

The officer took my cards and paperwork back to his police car and W and I sat, pulled over on one of the busiest roads, and I begged my body to not cry. Oh I knew I deserved a ticket. Absolutely. But the tears came from the humiliation of being pulled over, of being exhausted, of W getting anxious.

Ten incredibly long minutes later the police officer was back at my car. He explained that he was going to issue me a warning that will expire if I do not take action. I needed to get an updated state inspection sticker within ten days and then drive to the police office and show any officer on duty that I had performed this task. Once I did this my warning would stay a warning. If I failed to do this within ten days I would be mailed an incredibly expensive ticket.

I was so relieved. And thankful.

Then the officer informed me that he strongly suggested I go immediately to a mechanic for inspection because every police officer in the county was out looking for expired stickers and he couldn’t say whether or not I would get pulled over again.

I called Mom at her work and asked for help tracking down where to go and she found a place less than two blocks away. I went immediately there.

I left the car at the mechanic and got a ride home.

The mechanic was incredibly kind and he said I could come back for the car in a few hours. I got W down for a nap, I started my afternoon work, and I drank 3 cups of coffee.

An hour later Mom calls to tell me that our car failed inspection.

FAILED. Tires and brakes and brake rotors all needed to be repaired or replaced. It wasn’t just a tiny fail it was an expensive fail.

I don’t have to tell you because I know many of you are existing the same way – paycheck to paycheck is awful. Every cent dedicated to something; an unexpected expense devastating.

And that is what happened on friday.

Whatever domino started the chain of events – I was suddenly turned upside down. Not being able to just fork over the money for the repairs was humiliating. IS humiliating. I am incredibly thankful (and lucky) that a friend offered to loan me enough for the repairs and as soon as the funds are in my account I will be able to get the car.

Friday was just horrible and I really beat myself up for not being prepared for something like this.

Today I have a bit more perspective. This story could have ended with a tragedy of brakes failing. The dominos started to fall that way within our car. Somehow by my deciding to pick up W early on friday I began an opposing line of events that lead to my altering the original domino chain. It’s going to be very inconvenient for a few days and W will have to miss a few days of school since I won’t be able to drive him. But when we are able to pick up the car it will be safer.

All of the crap in the middle: my humiliation over being pulled over, my beating myself up for not having emergency savings, my new debt to a friend, my not having a car for a few days – ALL OF THAT is worth wading through in order to be safe.

Life lessons are hard.


  1. Wow, that sucks. But you are right, better safe than sorry. It’s just too bad that so many of us have to live this way, paycheck to paycheck, when one relatively minor domestic disaster (like needing a car fixed) has the potential of domino-ing into complete financial disaster. Not knowing if I will ever, EVER in my life get out of this sort of existence is very troubling to me, one of those things that’s never far from the forefront of the mind even though I try so hard to enjoy my days and not worry so much about the future. Sorry, did I just make this all more depressing?

  2. Oh, PA state inspections. Never convenient. Bleh.

    Sending love.

  3. Ugh! I’m glad you didn’t end up getting hurt from failing brakes. But what a crappy situation. Stuff like that is how I always end up getting in over my head with my credit card.

  4. Wow, that is a frustrating, yet interesting and in its own frustrating way thankful chain of events. I’m glad you didn’t have an accident or anything because of the car problems but I’m sorry its costing so much to deal with.

  5. Sorry that happened but in this economy, not so uncommon …Don’t beat yourself up! You are doing a lot right but do make sure you get more sleep and be thankful that your car is safe for you & your family.:)

  6. I’m glad your dominos fell this way instead of the other way. I hope they all stand up straight again soon.

  7. Aah, the lovely dominos of life. So glad you were able to take care of it. Friends who bless you like that are one in a million.

  8. Oh that sucks. I’m so sorry. I’m impressed that you could see the silver lining. Shows your strength of character. I hope the money stuff gets better soon. Terribly stressful I am sure.

  9. Yeah, brakes are a biggie. And I totally know the paycheck to paycheck dance. It sucks. Big hug, hon.

  10. Car expenses never come at a good time. I’m sorry that you’ve gotten a hit in the bank account. That always sucks. If your repairs are not done in the 10 days, though, make sure you go to the cop shop and let them know, so they don’t assume you’re just ignoring them and send you that ticket!

  11. If it makes you feel any better (silly to say, I know), after my inspection in September (for which I had to buy 2 new tires to pass), I was told my brakes were down to 3mm – or something, and that although they passed inspection, I should get new ones before winter. I waited until they were GRINDING. Really stupid on my part but I was able to bring them in within 2 days of the grinding. Your post reminds me of how foolish I was and how great you are to see the positive in a really crappy situation.

  12. *hugs* sorry for all the hard stuff.

  13. Life will always throw us curve balls.
    Look at the happy medium of things, you have a friend who loves you beyond a doubt to help
    and in the process quite possibly saved you from a wreck if tires brakes ect had went out.
    Every good deed begets another good deed. Lots of hugs and loves to you.
    Hope you get that nap

  14. Liz Henry says:

    Oh how I know this dance and even the pullover one. You have such good perspective. This year I am going to try like do my best to start building a fund. It’s so hard for so many right now and thres nothing to be embarrassed about. Try and rest, you have so much on your plate.

  15. Dresden:

    Just wanted to say I have finally caught up on your blogs. I used to blog all the time (Rants of a Married Lesbian Mom) and stopped. I started a new blog now as we are trying for another baby. My heart ached for you when reading your posts from the last few months. I am sending you so much positive energy! I look forward to keeping up on everything and hope to read many more good things! (((HUGS)))

  16. I can totally relate. I have yet to register my new-to-me car that I bought in September because I haven’t paid (and can’t afford to pay) my property tax. I cringe every time I see a police officer. Glad someone was able to loan you the money!

    Paycheck to paycheck life blows!!

  17. I got pulled over for a failed inspection sticker within the last week also. I know Friday sucked because I’ve had my version of that recently but I am so glad you and W are both safe.

  18. Oh I know the story, as it is my own! Almost word for word. However mine ended in a kamikaze drive on a very busy downtown street, and careening though a gas station parking lot. It was the first day driving, after having the engine replaced, when the master cylinder failed! Because of a few last minute decisions, it was my hubby driving through town, with a car full of adults, instead of myself driving down a mountain hwy at 55mph- with a car full of kids. My husband is nothing if not a skilled driver,but I’m not sure even he could’ve pulled the car out of the now (thankfully) hypothetical situation. I was very thanful to fork over another couple hundred dollars, to keep my babies safe. Brakes are no joke- and always one of those things you don’t think about till they’re gone.

    I’m glad you had a friend to help you out. That was my only option as well.

  19. This reminds me of how dh & I came home recently & found a loaf of crusty Italian bread on the kitchen table and a package of sausages in the fridge. We immediately knew dh’s dad, who just turned 84, had been by. : ) Dh called to thank him and stepMIL answered the phone and informed him (sounding somewhat annoyed) that those sausages cost $900 — the car (which is over 10 years old) stalled in the driveway. They called CAA & got towed to a garage, where they learned the drive shaft had broken. The guy told them they were very lucky it happened where it did, because if they’d been on a main road driving at a fast speed, they could have been in a serious accident. $900 is a lot of money, but it could have been so much worse.

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