Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lizard brain and doing the right thing

I am not late. I do not need to hurry. It is refreshing.

I am at the University to give a talk on homelessness to a group of 4th year Sociology students. I park in the main lot between two cars; dark blue SUV on the right, burgundy something compact on the left. Lots of room on either side.

I open my driver's side door and a gust of wind rips the door away from my hand. It smashes into the burgundy something compact on my left.

I swear.

Not too loud. I mean, what if someone heard me?

I get out. I don't have to crawl out, or slip out. There's lots of room. Except, of course, for the fact that my door is jammed into the handle of the car beside me.

I try to pull it free. It won't budge. I try again. No luck. I try again -- you know that adage, doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different outcome... call me crazy, I kept thinking I could pull the door free.

No luck.

I wonder what to do next. There's no one around. I sigh. Damn.

I walk around the back of my car, around the front and push against the opposite side of the door. Won't budge. I push again. Pslift. It releases its grip on the door handle of the burgundy something compact beside me.

I look at the handle. The side of the door. Definitely evidence of my door's contact with its surface.

I sigh. Again.

I don't want to open the door on that side. The wind is still blowing fiercely.

I move to the passenger door of my car. I test the distance between the door and the side of the SUV. A few inches to spare. I get in the passenger side. I search my bag for a piece of paper, all the while angrily muttering under my breath about warm winds blowing in from the west. Gotta love Chinooks. But man, they are fierce. Gusty. Gutsy. Strong.

And here's the tricky part. The part where I admit the little voice in my head whispering, oh so sibilantly, 'C'mon, you don't need to leave a note. No one will know. No one saw you.'

Shh, I admonish it as I furiously scribble on a sheet of paper my name and cell phone number and a brief description of what happened.

C'mon. It wasn't your fault.

Doesn't matter, I angrily reply. It's not about fault. It's about doing the right thing.

Doing the right thing, schmetterrling. Forget everything. You don't have to worry about a thing. (I hate it when lizard brain thinks he can be cute with rhyming and made up words chanting them to the tune of a Cole Porter song. Heck! Lizard brain can't even sing!)

I sigh. Again. Yes I do. I have to leave the note.

Okay. So leave the note but don't put it too securely under their windshield wiper. It wouldn't be your fault if the wind whipped it away.

Go away, I hiss back at it.

Stop being such a good girl, it hisses back.

It is unrelenting.

I walk away.

It comes with me.

I walk through the campus, searching for the Social Sciences building where I've been a hundred times. I mean, I took several courses there, I know where it is. But the wind is howling, my mind is cavorting and the lizard brain is slithering this way and that.

And behind its whisper is the thought of how much it's going to cost to fix the person's car. Damn. I don't feel like paying for damage to someone else's car.

I get to the theatre where I'm presenting. I've still got time to spare. I buy a bottled water, glance through my notes, set up my presentation on the computer and ready the overhead projector.

My cell phone buzzes.

I have a couple of minutes. I glance at the screen. It's a text from a number I don't recognize.

"Hi! I just got a note on my car from you. I poured water over my door and there's nothing worth worrying about. Thanks for leaving the note though!"

I breathe a sigh of relief. Doing the right thing always pays off. Always lifts my spirits. Always creates more of what I want in my life -- while maybe even creating a ripple effect that a stranger will possibly, someday, somewhere, pay it forward.

And what's even better! I don't have to carry guilt, shame or self-condemnation with me about not having done the right thing. I don't have to justify to myself, and probably anyone who will listen, how the wind ripped the door from my hands and.... changing the ending to not have contact with someone else's car so that I don't look so guilty.

Oh, and did I mention? I don't have to pay for damage. A little bit of water washed it away.

Not bad.

But damn, I wish I didn't have to listen to lizard brain slithering back into its cave. I mean, really, couldn't it just wash itself away like the scratch on the burgundy compact something on my left?


S. Etole said...

This is so good!

trisha said...

Happy that the things turned out beautifully.

good that you ignored the lizard.

Anonymous said...

Well done! I could sense all your feelings... and in the end you were a very good girl! yah, Louise!
BA xo

Claudia said...

ha - i knew from the first minute you wouldn't listen to this little voice, whispering to just leave.. and yes - doing the right thing pays off. thanks for sharing louise

Fi said...

Love this share - what a great story and an even better outcome :)