Lessons learned at the carwash
Assumptions. It’s said that when you assume you make an ass out of you and me. Me? I manage to make an ass out of myself all by myself, thoroughly, at the drop of a real or imagined slight. This one was kicked off by the last carwash….
I drive a 17-year-old car — a vintage Camry — and it’d been layered in dust for months. Last Sunday, after a lovely interlude — farmers market, a walk, and a movie with a friend — I decided to break up my trip home with some timely cleaning and spiffing-up for my car.
Online reviews found me a carwash nearby, one of those establishments where you sit in the car as it goes through a washing shed (one with those vertigo-inducing brushes that mess with your inner gyroscope). Then I get to wait while the car gets semi-detailed.
I watched the pair working on my car: they had all four doors open and were darting in and out — one cleaning the glass while the other ran the vacuum. I saw the trunk of my car pop open and close — they were cleaning around the rim of the lid. My car was getting shinier by the minute. Nice.
I tipped the team when they finished up, got back in my car, and drove the 20 minutes home.
And then I reached down to pop the trunk.
When I pulled up in front of my house I reached down to pop the trunk, and discovered that the trunk release lever was no longer attached to the trunk release. It was just laying there, in its usual spot, next to the gas-cap release, by my left foot. Laying there like a lox (I’m channeling my mom’s phrasing today) and just about as useful.
It was a Sunday evening around six and I went into full ass mode. The outrage seeped in when I realized — what? — the person who broke the lever thought I wouldn’t realize what had happened? That if they just put it back in its usual spot, I’d never notice? What the what?
I jumped on the assumptions roller coaster and went on a wild ride.
It never even occurred to me to pick up the phone. Nope, not me. I picked up my fingers instead and typed — and immediately published — an enthusiastically negative review. And then — because now I’m on a roll — I screenshotted that review and slapped it up on three of my social media accounts.
That’ll teach them!
I didn’t even question my assumptions. It didn’t occur to me that I had done anything intemperate or inappropriate or arrogant or motivated by racism of which I’m barely aware. Instead of thinking before I spoke, I simply shared my ruffled feathers and outrage with my social media channels and went to bed.
Woke up to a few comments of solidarity for the affront I’d suffered, and then another comment that pulled me up short. A friend — someone I actually know – asked me why I hadn’t called them first before writing my less-than-gentle review.
Ooh. Now I saw myself in a different light; felt a little shame.
I hastily took down all my posts except for the original review. And I picked up the phone. I called the carwash and the proprietor answered, at 8 AM on a Monday morning. I texted him the picture of the broken part and told him what happened. He told me to get a price and he take care of it.
I went over to the auto body shop at the end of my street, and got a price for the repair. I texted it to the car wash owner and by 8 AM the next day received his reply that the repair was already paid for.
I’ve happily amended my review, and then went back and acknowledged my wise friend who’d suggested I check myself before blasting my huffy how-dare-you’s for others to see.
This is progress. As I begin to experience bits of life freed from my programming and typical responses, it’s mortifyingly comical to see when I totally 100% forget myself and dive right back into my old shit. Yes I was raised to — I’m quoting mom again — “Never let anyone cut you off!” as I was learning to drive. It’s different now; now I get to choose.
Choosing to act differently than my assumptions would have me act gives me hope.
Seeing myself and my assumptions more clearly — and owning up to my knee-jerk asshat behaviors — also gives me hope. Once I realized that what I’d done was a total jerk move, I was able to see it differently and respond in a much more useful way. something different. I’m grateful for being called out and for hearing the message.
That’s a big bag of assumptions I carry around. I’ve been tucking them away for decades. It’s taking a lot of repeat lessons for me to notice how much better life goes when I’m not seeing everything from behind that veil. Y’know what I mean, right?
Before I go, I want to share a couple of my new paintings with you, and what they look like on some of the items you can buy in my stores. I stand by these products!
This is called Purple Parchment, acrylic on an 8×10 canvas. Find out more about my original pieces here, maybe order one for yourself. (I got myself an iPhone case with a section of this image on it and it looks really good!)
Here’s a sample of the cool s**t you can buy with my artwork imprinted on it.
Yup, those are my paintings you see on these products. (These are just a few!)
I now own the cell phone case and tote pictured here, and I use them on the regular. The quality’s excellent, I’m thrilled to say! Please let me know what you think.