*Warning: A-bombs ahead! (They’re like F-bombs, but less offensive.)*
Twice within the last month I have returned to my car in a parking lot to find notes stuck to my windshield calling me variations of the word “asshole” because of my parking skills (or, ahem, lack thereof).
Admittedly, my first note—written in glitter crayon—was probably deserved. I left 10 feet of space on one side and two inches on the other. I imagined it was an irate mom who couldn’t get the door open far enough to drop the baby’s pumpkin seat into its base.
I’ve been there. It sucks. I know. I get it. I felt terrible.
My second note came from a teenager who wasn’t able to do a pull-thru. The teacher in me would like to think it was the perfect lesson. I bettered her ability to reverse—a skill so important in driving, and in life.
But the fact that these notes came just three weeks apart, well, as a friend pointed out, it was like the universe was passive-aggressively telling me that I am, in fact, an asshole.
I thought the universe might be a bit more forward in its attempt—perhaps a slap in the face, a left hook to the jaw, a punch in the gut.
But passive-aggressive works, too. Because it meant I had to pause.
I needed to back up. Reverse, if you will.
At first, my look inward made me think my lack of attention to my parking might be a reflection of some sort of turn toward self-centeredness.
Was I really a selfish asshole?!
I wish I could tell you that I believe that was it—that my mind was so focused on me and the way my ass looks in Lululemon leggings as I pull into the gym that I can’t be bothered noticing how centered I am between two lines.
But when I pull into those spots, I’m usually simultaneously saying the same string of words to my kids:
“Put your sweatshirt on, you can’t take that in with you, I won’t turn this song up because we are getting out of the car, there are drinking fountains and you can get a drink in there and OH MY GOD PLEASE PUT YOUR SWEATSHIRT ON!”
(And my leggings are totally from Target.)
I was definitely absorbed in my own little world, but not a world full of power trips and egomania.
So then what?
I was okay with being the asshole. I was okay taking the punches for someone who needed a punching bag. Odds are good the notes weren’t about me; I was their last straw in a string of events on a shitty day.
Maybe, I thought, they just needed somebody to see them.
They just needed an acknowledgment that life can be shitty. Parking jobs can be shitty.
People can be shitty.
So what’s an asshole to do?
Every time we pull into a parking spot now, my oldest says, “Boy I hope no one leaves us a mean note today!”
And there was my answer. I needed to reverse it. Create space. Everything my parking jobs are not.
I crafted a little something. I printed off 50 copies. I laminated it. And when my kids and I go somewhere, we pick a car to leave it on.
“Being kind is free, and it makes everyone feel good. If you are having a less-than-stellar day, please know you are awesome, and tomorrow’s alarm clock brings another opportunity to laugh and smile and be all kinds of amazing.
If you are having the best day ever, everyone is smiling for you and with you and hopes your good energy continues to spread joy to everyone you cross paths with today.
It doesn’t matter what your mood is, what your frame of mind is, what you did yesterday or your plans for tomorrow. You are awesome and loved.
Do good. Be kind. Share love.”
It’s not perfect, like my parking.
But neither am I.
Author: Kristin Kauffman
Editor: Toby Israel
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