Sometimes, it just needs to be said; the frustration, the anger, the embarrassment needs to be put into words. Chances are, we’ve all dealt with toddlers who have the same problem.
I was late for a bridal shower, rushing to get to the restaurant, unsure of the directions, and incredibly frustrated that I couldn’t find a parking space once I arrived at the complex.
I pulled into the only parking spot I saw, and I knew as soon as I did that it was a mistake. It was too tight a squeeze, with a large pickup truck on my left that was over the line and an SUV on my right that was too close as well. But there wasn’t a choice . . . or was there? A family was walking toward the car that was parked directly in front of me, and as soon as they backed out, I very smoothly pulled forward into the spot they’d vacated. Only then did I see that there had been another car waiting to pull into the spot. The look on the man’s face said everything, and he was NOT happy. I understood, and I felt terrible. But what could I do? I watched him move on, saw where he ultimately parked, and weighed my options.
In this day and age, you don’t go looking for trouble. But I wanted to explain. I needed to apologize. What ifs raced through my brain, but my soul spoke louder.
I held the shower gift in front of me and walked up to the driver’s side window of the man’s car. He was texting someone, maybe telling them about the crazy woman who had just stolen his parking spot.
He saw me and rolled the window down, still with a scowl on his face. And I apologized.
“I’m so sorry,” I started. “I’m late for a shower (here, I held the present up to show him I was telling the truth) and I couldn’t find a spot. I knew as soon as I pulled into that space that it was too tight and as soon as those people pulled out I realized I could just pull forward. And it was only then that I saw you. You were going to take that space, weren’t you? I’m so sorry.” (All that was said without my taking a breath.)
He just looked at me, with a look on his face I honestly couldn’t decipher because it was changing so quickly. First it was irritation, then uncertainty, then disbelief.
“It’s OK,” he said. “I can’t believe that you came over here to apologize. It’s OK.” And he smiled. “You have no idea how much it means that you apologized.” And he just shook his head.
Of course, it could have been a bad decision. But it didn’t feel that way. It felt right, and good, and important to use my words. To tell the man what had happened and that I was sorry that I had inconvenienced him in my rush to get where I needed to be.
I resolved then and there, seeing how important that interaction had been, that I need to use my words more often. I need to say what’s on my mind instead of just thinking about how happy something has made me or how sad I feel for someone, simply presuming that my intent is understood. If it’s good enough for a three-year-old, surely it’s good enough for the adults who teach those three-year-olds the important lessons.
Humans need to be treated humanely . . . with words.