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  • Ashleigh Ogilvie-Lee

Blog 11 - From a Villa in Grey Lynn - Expired Rego

I am sitting innocently in my car parked on High Street, talking to Gigi, when a ticket inspector with a big hat turns and looks at my car. I give a friendly little honk to say sorry to be honking, but I’m in the car so you can’t ticket me, sorry!

The honk seems to offend him and when I give him a little wave, he advances towards my car and squints at my rego. I wind down my window and say,

"Hello, I’m here!"

He replies, "Your rego has expired!"

He checks it with a database, which doesn't need to have artificial intelligence to confirm, yes, one month over. He tells me that my misdemeanour will cost $200.

I say, "No, that’s not possible. I can’t afford it."

"You can’t afford it?" he says, emphasising the "you" and obviously quite affronted by my claim. "What about me? I’m 74 years old and I had to spend $714,000 to fix my leaky building, and now I’m broke, which is why I’m doing this. I had to borrow $200,000 from my sister."

I am genuinely so upset that had my $200 gone directly to him, I would have happily given it to him there and then. I reach out to him and start to cry at his plight.

"I’m so sorry," I say, trying to comfort him.

In Hamletian fashion, he continues his soliloquy, grunting and sweating under a weary life.

"And I have emphysema. Fifty years of smoking. My lungs are working at 5%, which means I have the same lungs as a hamster. My doctor says he doesn’t know how I can do this job, but how can I not do it? I have to repay my sister, and my building is still leaking."

"The other day there was a lady in a Porsche who told me she couldn’t afford it. And there she was driving a car worth more than $100,000."

I am ashamed of myself. Once, more than a decade ago, I could have been that woman in a Porsche. Then, my husband left me, my world collapsed, and out of the ruin, like a phoenix from the ashes, rose a valiant new version of me. Yes, my progression through life is promising. I no longer sob if I lose snakes and ladders, nor do I take hours to coat each lash. I am no longer tempted by every stick of twine and twig to make beautiful my nest. No, I am maturing and shedding material things like a snake shedding his skin or a tree her leaves.

Although I have always cared deeply for the plight of animals, the old me would never have given much thought to the plight of the poor ticket man trudging up and down in all weathers so he might pay his sister back.

I give his arm a little pat and say how sorry I am about his leaky building and his life in general. It makes mine seem sparkly, even if Gus has just gone through the rotten floorboards, the windows don’t shut, and a wild garden is sprouting in my roof drains.

He looks at his arm where I patted it and thinks for a moment.

"I’m going to give you a warning this time," he says. "But I’ll tell you what you’re going to do. You’re going to drive your car straight out of town! Go directly home. No stopping on the way. No talking to anyone."

Of course, I would have gone straight home, but I had to go to my lawyer, and I’m sure the dear ticket man will understand.

I feel strangely uplifted by his optimism. I will resolve my marital woes and he will pay his sister back, and his building will stop leaking.

Because we have

Hope, the thing with feathers,

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops at all. ..

- Emily Dickinson

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7월 06일

That feathered flyer looks very much like a dragon and as it is year of the dragon maybe things will go well

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