Friday, March 28, 2014

It's That Easy

On my second day at my new job, I was monitoring anesthesia during a surgery when the receptionist slid into the room to tell me that a client had just hit my car in the parking lot. I closed my eyes and exhaled "How bad is it?" but she didn't know. My boss immediately vouched for the client, letting me know he was a nice honest guy who would surely take cake of things but my heart had already sank.

To my relief, I got outside to find my car in tact with the exception of one tail light but I will admit all that shattered colored plastic and glass made quite a mess in the snowy parking lot. Now here's an interesting thing about me; I suffer from anxiety issues and will often torture myself over seemingly minor issues such as what is appropriate to wear to a specific event or keep myself awake at night stressing about whether I'll be able to afford the gift I want to buy my other half for his birthday. But when it comes to major issues, ones that deal with others and my impact on The Universe, I'm often the one under control. Understandably, the driver was upset and embarrassed but I assured him that "Seriously, this is no big deal. We'll get it taken care of." It only took two days to get my car into the shop, fixed and back home. The gentleman was apologetic and friendly through the entire process. He repeatedly thanked me for being understanding and nice but I was also grateful for his honesty. If I'd finished my shift to find the damage without someone having come forward, I would have been crushed.

Car camping at The Gorge 2008
My car is 13 years old and has over 192,000 miles on it. I love this car. To say I'm emotionally attached to it is an understatement. It's not in great condition but it's fine. I'm used to all the dings it has and the noises it makes. There's a crack in the windshield, the back windows don't go down and in order to pop the hood you have to reach way up under the pedals for the handle and turn it a certain way but it runs fine and I don't have a car payment! This car is one of the last things I have left that links my current life to the one I left in North Carolina seven years ago. The day it leaves my life is going to be a sad one. If I had gone out to the parking lot and found my little Focus all crumpled, my heart would have broken.

I was grateful the damage was easily repaired and that the experience was positive and I went on about my business. A week later, I was busy at work when the receptionist brought me a greeting card that had been dropped off by the guy who'd hit my car. I was pleasantly surprised and quite curious. It contained a gift card to a local restaurant and a beautiful handwritten message. This kind human felt compelled to go out of his way to thank me again for being understanding and reasonable! He wrote "What a breath of fresh air to meet someone who is respectful and pleasant. It gives me hope for our society." As I put the card back into the envelope I was full of a sense of gratitude and pride in myself. I thought Well, I might be a lot of things but at least I'm not an asshole! The fact that a person was truly appreciative of me not being a jerk was pretty impressive. The whole thing was straight forward as far as I'm concerned! Someone made a mistake, apologized and made it right. In return I was understanding and kind. That isn't complicated. I don't think a person should be surprised to receive that treatment from a stranger in a situation like this.

Since that situation was easy for me to handle, it seems like there are other places in my life where I could be using this approach to make things easier, mainly with myself! What if I screwed up and instead of lying awake at night beating myself up about it, I said It's okay self, you're intelligent and kind and you made a mistake, so what? Make it right and then don't do the same thing again? I feel like I should challenge myself to try this. I find it interesting that the behaviors and personal philosophy that I believe in and show to the world is most difficult to show to myself. I wonder why that is?

My car seats 2 co-pilots

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