It turns out that my car is so damaged that it can’t move an inch. Some piece has fallen out of place behind the tire and is keeping it from rolling. I have the guy call a taxi from his job and we agree that he’ll pay the fare since this is his fault after all. But somehow, during all of this, I never get his license plate or his insurance. It’s late. I’m tired. It’s my first “accident”. Whatever excuses I come up with to sleep at night. But little did I know that these mistakes would be the ingredients for the best day of my summer.
So I get home and the guy tells me that he’ll call me at one the next day so we can take the car to the shop and find out how much the repairs will cost. Sounds like a plan.
But the next day, one o’ clock rolls around and there’s no call. One-ten. One-fifteen. I call him and he says he’ll call back in a few. A few goes by. Then several. Then more. And then it’s 2 p.m. and this guy stops answering his phone.
I told you this wasn’t good, my mind reminds me.
And thus begins the best day of my summer vacation.
I have one of my friends drop me off at the taxi dispatcher to find the guy and it turns out that he’s not there. He’s at a friend’s house getting his car repaired. So I have the taxi drive me over to the guy, find him, get his license information, he drives me back to my car and I call the police to file a report. And oh yeah, I find out that I got a parking ticket. Splendid.
The entire ride the guy is talking nonstop: he’s sorry for all the inconvenience, everything’s going to be alright, he went to the hospital for the food poisoning, this is his first accident, etc. etc. But I never respond. And at some point, it occurs to him to ask this question…
“Are you upset?”
“Yes,” I reply. But it’s not my anger that I’m thinking about. From the moment he’d stopped answering my calls and these heated emotions had started stirring inside of me, I realized how much I was going to learn from this day. I had a choice to either be angry or attentive, to let this break me or make me and I chose the latter. So by the time we make it to the car, all I’m thinking about is the lessons I’ve learned: how to be assertive and not aggressive, how to be honest with what I’m feeling, and, of course, how to file a police report. And I discovered something else too—that there are levels of distrust. This guy had smashed my car and appeared to be remorseful, but then gave me the runaround the next day. Normally I would’ve hated him. But the more I paid attention to the situation, the more I realized that he was just irresponsible. He was a pretty good guy who genuinely wanted to do the right thing, but he had no idea how to do it, so I was just collateral damage. And I realized I that I could choose to not trust someone without turning them into a villain.
And learning these lessons is what made this day the best day of the week ever. So I leave you with this gem from John Maxwell: when you find yourself in the middle of a horrible day, stop and remind yourself, “sometimes you win and sometimes you learn.”