Day 130: Braking For Gratitude

Sometimes life will throw in a little bonus when you’re not expecting it.

Monday, after my women’s meeting, my brakes pretty much gave out. It was sudden and pretty scary. And, while they had just enough juice to get me home, and then to the tire and brake shop the next day, there were a few moments where I was completely and totally sketched out.

My negativity immediately asserted itself. I had been having such a good couple of weeks. Things were going great with Lars, I’ve been working my program, hard, and feeling good about it, my spiritual life is full, and for a time, it really appeared that things were coasting at a level that was almost uncomfortably good. Then this. Goddamn brakes.

I anticipated a bill of $300-$400, because, that’s my luck. And, as I sat in the waiting room of the shop, working on my 4th Step, I felt defeated. What good was all this progress, all these feelings of accomplishment and success, if I was just going to be handed another bill to further my feeling of inadequacy and fear of financial instability. It felt unfair, uncalled for even. And I sat, one foot in the door of despair, the other, pushing me to work a good program and be accepting of the things I cannot change.

As I sat waiting for the diagnosis, customer after customer starting filing into the shop. All of them with slashed tires. Apparently, some jerk had walked down a whole avenue slashing between one and all four tires for every car on the whole block. And, as I watched this scenario play out, I saw these people come together. Each and every one of their mornings had been ruined. And, on top of that, the expense of as many as four new tires. But, these people all sat down in the waiting area with their cups of coffee and commiserated as a community. Their conversations turning from rage to laughter.

It suddenly dawned on me that my situation wasn’t so bad. At least I’d been able to drive there and didn’t have to pay for the tow. At least I wasn’t going to be late for work or taking my child to school. And, as I made peace with my situation, the man who was working on my car jogged in to get me.

The problem with my brakes was a minor mistake from a prior repair at a different, less reputable shop. So, he replaced a washer on my siphon and my brake fluid. When I asked him how much I owed, starting back toward the service desk as I pulled out my wallet, he told me: “Nothing. You owe nothing.” I immediately questioned him. How could it be nothing? He easily did an hour’s worth of labor and replaced my brake fluid. He said it was easy for him, and, so long as I considered coming back to them for my next repair, I needn’t worry about it. I tried to tip him. He wouldn’t let me, it was company policy.

After thanking him profusely, I drove out of the shop, brakes working better than ever, on cloud nine. For all my griping and worry, for all the negative expectations I’d placed on the whole situation, I was still rewarded. Between the tire slashing victims uniting and the shop’s complete and utter kindness toward me, I felt my faith in humanity renew itself. Despite all the crap that goes on in this world, there are good people, doing good things, coming together, building communities. And, it isn’t for money or stature. It’s just plain, wholesome goodness. And, I forgot it existed. It was so nice to be reminded that the world isn’t all bad.

Today, I made fudge and baked up a storm in my tiny kitchen. I packaged all my treats up, and drove over to the tire and brake shop. I told the guys that they’d made my day, if not my month. I told them that the past year has knocked me down a few times, and that I really appreciated the reminder that, no matter how bad it gets, there’s still goodness out there. They seemed to appreciate the gesture, and that made me feel good too.

Sometimes, I have to remind myself that, no matter what kind of crap is going on, there is always something to be grateful for in my day. And, some days, it’s going to be a big thing, like some awesome dudes fixing my car for free. Some days, it’s going to be my cat purring next to me in bed, some days it’s going to the the fact I can eat a hot meal in a warm apartment.

But, there is always something for which I should be grateful. How poignant that it took my brakes to get me to stop and appreciate all I have, and, all that I’ve been given. And, it provided a cue to remember that one good turn deserves another, by way of homemade fudge and white chocolate marshmallow bars.

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