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Normally, the annual Massachusetts automobile inspection process comes and goes without too much pain or cost (fingers crossed, of course). But this year was different. I can best summarize it as a comedy of errors that left me scratching my head in disbelief.

I usually like to get the inspection out of the way early in the month of November to avoid the end-of-month rush and the Thanksgiving holiday. I got started on the 21st by calling a local garage. I was told no inspections today, “but we will be doing them tomorrow.”

The next day, I get to the garage and am excited to see no line. I pull up to the inspection bay and after a minute or two, spot a worker. I yell over and inquire about an inspection. “Not today,” he said. “But I was told you would be doing them today.” He answered, “Well, the guy called in sick again today and we are not doing them.” Sigh.

At work on the 29th, a coworker mentioned another local place that also performs inspections, giving me another option. Around 10 a.m. I took an early lunch and shot over for the inspection. This would give me plenty of time in the day, not to mention we were getting close to the end of the month here! I decided to pass by the new option and go to the first garage.

On the 30th, I decided to use my lunch hour to run to the registry. I found the directions on the Web site, as well as a cool “wait times.” Hard to believe on the last day of the month there was no wait during the lunch hour!

Great! Last day of the month and still no sticker! But wait, I know what to do, I’ll swing around the corner to the other place. At this place you do not get in a line. My car went right in and I sat down to read a magazine. About 30 minutes later, a lady appeared at the counter and said, “Corsica?” I said, “Yup, that’s me.” “You have a plate light out. $7.50 or a rejection sticker!” Okay now, let me think about this. Hmmm, some choice, I guess I’ll take the plate light replacement option. In hindsight, I will regret that decision.

December 1st, a vacation day for me, but I still had that darn inspection sticker thing.

I called the first garage and they said they would be starting up again with stickers around 1:20, after lunch break. I drive around to warm up the engine and arrive for the third position in line. Finally, it’s my turn and I head off to the waiting area. A short while later I hear the gas station attendant say, “Oh, it failed,” as an inspector pulled the car up front. He walked in the door and said, “You are all set and your change in on the seat.”

I was so relieved that I didn’t even acknowledge the wisecrack. Oh, if the attendant only knew what I had gone through to get that yearly inspection!

DOUG SAWYER

Pepperell

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