A couple weeks ago I had lunch with a good friend of mine. When I parked the car, I pulled into a parking spot relatively easily and thought even if people parked on either side of me, I would be able to get out because I could just pull out at an angle, no problem. I didn’t realize the place we picked for lunch was all of a sudden the hottest lunch spot in town, so not only did the parking lot fill up, cars kept zooming in and out of it.
After we were done with our lunch, we said our goodbyes, possibly exchanged a couple of insults to each other because that’s how we roll, and I headed to my car. As I slowly approached it, I see two giant Chevy Tahoes, one parked on either side of me. I could feel the panic slowly rising, but thought to myself, it’s okay, I will be fine. I will not be forever stuck in this parking lot. I started the car, and noticed the woman in the Tahoe to the left of me got in her car at the same time. Perfect, she will back out first and then I will be able to escape this claustrophobic hell of a parking spot.
Well, she kept looking at her phone, so I decided to try to back out. It did not go well. Cars kept coming and I couldn’t tell how much room I had behind me. So I got angry and thought to myself, you know what lady, you probably have all those fancy cameras, so you back out. I can sit here all day. So I turned my car off and stared at my phone.
Getting the hint, she tried to back out. She was no better than me. So she pulled back in the spot and we both tried to wait each other out. I put my head in my hand, mulling over my options. I thought about calling my husband to come back my car out for me. I thought about asking a stranger to back my car out. I even considered going inside the yoga studio I was parked in front of and buying something just to get her to leave first.
You know what happened? The lady got out of her car and motioned to me to roll down my window. So I did and she approached me with a completely crazy idea! She offered to help me by motioning me out of the parking spot so I could get out. Then she could get out and we would be on our merry way. I thanked her profusely, and she motioned me out. I drove away and in my rearview mirror saw that she was able to get out of the spot with no problem.
I’m not sure which part was more embarrassing to me. My terrible parking skills (I had so much room behind me I could have backed out a small bus) or the fact that through all my problem-solving efforts, not once did I consider just asking her to help me or offering to help her. Instead I made her out to be an enemy and would have rather sat there for another hour than just make eye contact and work with her to figure it out.
As I type this, you know I know what was more embarrassing. I have already come to terms with my bad depth perception, but I like to think I am a somewhat decent human being. In this instance though, my kindness was nowhere to be found. It was all about me and how I was stuck in this situation alone and had no way out and blamed her and her giant Tahoe for my predicament.
Sometimes when you are stuck, it’s hard to see the easiest options right in front of you. You’ve made everything a struggle, a complex puzzle that only a genius could figure out. The answer is so obvious, but you go on diverting your eyes to avoid it. Maybe because seeing it would require some action on your part that you really don’t feel like taking. And it’s so easy to think the worst about someone when they are hidden behind a door. I was in the wrong. She was struggling just as much as I was, but I refused to see her as anything more than a roadblock. Something that wouldn’t get out of my way.
So what is the moral of this story? First, I need some f’ing driving lessons. Second, I need to stop panicking when I feel stuck. The anxiety clogs my brain waves. Third and most important, BE KIND. Assume that people are good, instead of assuming the worst. Put yourself in their shoes and then offer to help. In that moment, that lady was a better human being than me and she showed me a side of myself I didn’t like. She will never know that her act of kindness that day taught me a lesson which I hope sticks with me the next time I am in a similar situation. Luckily, every day we exist we have a chance to be just a little bit better than who we were yesterday.