Earlier this week I was leaving my last summer graduate class, and as I hurriedly backed out of the parking lot in an attempt to make it on time for a training session, I felt a minor collision. YEP. I straight-up backed into a parked car. ANNOYING. I got out of my car and checked both my car and the parked car (in the rain), saw no damage, and hurried out of the parking lot to beat my group of girls to a planned training session.
I reached my destination and spent the next 45 minutes in a sweat-filled weight room. Once the training session was complete, I walked outside to put some things back into my car. By this time the rain had diminished some, and that’s when I noticed the visible damage to the back of my car.
OH NO! If I have this damage, then so does the other car. I was instantly tormented with guilt and decided to drive all the way back across the city to double check this parked car.
Luckily the car was still in the same parking spot. I pulled up right in front of the car and instantly noticed damage. Substantial? No, but if you’ve ever had body work done to a car, the smallest of damage causes the largest of bills.
I scrambled for a piece of scratch paper and added my name, my telephone number, and my policy number. I also offered a heartfelt dose of “I AM SO SORRY for backing into your car.”
It was well past noon, and as I was getting out of my car to place the note onto the windshield, a lady was walking in my direction. You know when you just get a feeling? Well, I had that feeling that this car belonged to her. I stepped out of the car with one foot, peered over the windshield, and I kindly asked if the car belonged to her. I was right. From there we exchanged info, and I left with a CLEAR conscience. I’m sure my insurance company will be calling me any day now.
So why am I telling you this story? It’s certainly not for recognition. I did the right thing, as we all should strive to do, right? The damage was obvious once I had a better vantage point, and I went back immediately to try to repair my mistake. I’ve been the victim of a hit and run accident before, and it TOTALLY sucked. I would never wish that upon anybody.
Here’s the takeaway… How many times have we taken the easy road in any situation to avoid dealing with conflict? I had NUMEROUS crazy things running through my head while writing the “I’M SO SORRY” note – Will the driver of this car be upset with me? Will they understand? Will my insurance premiums rise? STOP IT ALREADY. None of those thoughts really mattered. I created my own anxiety in this situation. I made the mistake, and I was now put in a position to repair the things within my control.
I could have EASILY let my anxiety override all things and leave the scene without looking back. I don't think people ever purposely hit another car and then run away to be a complete jerk. Anxious thoughts build up in people's minds. They let fear win. And then they run.
Many times in life’s situations we decide to take the easy road for fear of conflict, feelings of guilt, avoiding mistakes, etc. Why do we react like this? In my opinion it’s much more admirable to face a situation head on with the right communication. In my specific case, the best AND right communication was leaving a note with all of my information on it. It would have been an arduous task to try to find the driver in the 3 story building adjacent to the parking lot. Leaving a note was the best that I could do.
Have you taken the easy road on anything lately? How did it make you feel? When I’ve taken the easy road on specific situations in my past, I always had that “I could have done better” feeling afterward. Hindsight is a jerk. She’s always 20/20.
So let's do this - let's all avoid the easy road. Face your conflicts or your mistakes or your problems head on. Take that clichéd road-less-traveled. There’s more empowerment there. I promise.
Engage. Empower. Elevate. #EEEtribe