Towed car to mechanic this morning. Blissfully unaware. Phone call from Tommy the mechanic. Need a transmission rebuild. Internal damage. Bottom line = $2000. End call.
Sitting on the bathroom floor at work, staring at my shoes, and wondering how I managed to ignore my check engine for so long. Which means that wasn’t just one mistake I made. It was a mistake made every single day for the past 6 weeks.
Hello, what’s this? A mental baseball bat? Don’t mind if I do! I proceeded to beat myself up good and proper, until I extracted the $2000 worth of self-esteem that can now be crumpled up and thrown away.
I’ve always considered myself a technically savvy person. I set up my complicated TV entertainment system. I know a couple of programming languages. I regularly troubleshoot my friends’ computer issues. I’m good at math, dammit! People like me don’t usually look at the “check engine” light and say, “Oh it’s just my car telling me that I’m due for a 90,000 mile service.” No. Oh no no, sweetie pie. You see, that’s what the “Maintenance Required” is for. That’s what Tommy the mechanic told me (minus the condescension, God bless him).
[Staring in the mirror.]
You are not a stupid person. You made a stupid mistake. That’s all.
[Deep breath. Sigh.]
Holy jeezes. $2000?! I had never in my life made such a mistake that could be quantified so high. All of my mistakes have been mild to moderate, and nonquantifiable, producing intangible bruises to my reputation, my self-perception or my relationships with people.
There’s a regressive nature to such a large amount of money. Before the recession, when I was paid better, $2K would have made me wince, but it might not have made me question my judgment and identity. Then again, now I at least have the ammo to write a blog post about it.
Now I console myself. The worst thing you can do is think that the mistakes you make are who you are as a person.
Repeat after me. You are not a stupid person. You made a stupid mistake. There’s a difference.
Ever watch The Big Bang Theory? Penny, the girly waitress, blithely ignores her check engine light until her car finally breaks down. And here I thought: I’m not that dumb.
Excuse me for a second, I think there’s someone at the door. It’s probably irony, but I’m not sure.
I’ll just pretend I’m not home and keep staring in the mirror.
You’re not a stupid person. You made a stupid mistake. That’s all.
Repeating as necessary.