While in the Honda car lot nine years ago, my husband told me that if we got the GPS navigation system with the minivan, he believed it would save our marriage. OK, for the sake of our marriage, the investment was worth it.
Once we got the GPS, it became apparent that the only way the GPS was useful was if the driver paid attention, listened to the directions, and followed them. Our marriage is still intact by the grace of God—not because of the GPS. Our issue of criticizing each other’s driving skills remains intact as well.
Image credit: mroach
We learned through the years that the best configuration for us to get to a new destination is for me to drive and for him to read the map, or for me to listen to the GPS. In any case, it’s not having him in the driver’s seat.
Needless to say, parking has never been my strong suit. I barely passed my driver’s license test because my parallel parking looked more like perpendicular parking.
Our nation’s craze with diets and being skinny has bled over to parking spaces as well. Who thought of compact-sized parking spaces? The highest concentration of compact parking spaces has to be at Cupertino Vallco mall. In a city where probably half the cars are minivans, the mall put all their parking spots on a diet.
One Friday night a few months ago, we decided to go to the movie theater for family night. I asked my husband if he wanted to drive. He declined because he had had a couple bad nights of sleep. We cruised into the parking structure and found a nice parking spot close to the stairs. It was a compact.
I turned the steering wheel hard and thought I cleared the bumper of the car next to me. There was the crunch of metal against metal. I felt a bump, heard my husband yell—and kept going like anyone would. Then it registered that I had made contact with the Tahoe next to me. Ugh. I had to straighten the car and re-park twice, as I usually do, only this time I was getting hot and flushed with nervousness while doing it. My first thought was to put the car in reverse and park farther away or go home. Unfortunately, my kids were in the car. I couldn’t show them how cowardly I was.
My husband opened the door, checked the bumper of the Tahoe, and confirmed contact. Our van bumper had scraped paint off the other car. Oh, I so wanted to drive off! He said, “We should leave a note.” Then he changed it to, “You should leave a note.” His tone came across as condemning and communicating, “You always drive crazy.”
The tension in the air was as thick as jello. We dug around the car for paper and a pen. I found my business card and decided to write a short note on it. The thought of leaving it blank and sticking it on the car crossed my mind. But how would I pull that off with my son (literally) breathing down my neck? Darn it. I supposed I had to leave a real note. Flanked by my son and the Tahoe, I wrote in shame: “So sorry I bumped your left rear bumper. Email me to discuss damages.”
As we walked to the theater, I thought for sure the cost of the repair would be a couple thousand dollars. I was prepared to pay this off to have the incident behind me. I was praying the car owner would be reasonable and that the “Keep Tahoe Blue” bumper sticker was something he or she had put on and not inherited from a previous owner. Anyone wanting to keep Tahoe blue should be decent.
After we settled in our theater seats, I sent the kids to get snacks. My husband and I chatted and forgave each other. I felt lighter just being able to say, “We’re all right,” and moving on. We all had fun at the movie.
The Tahoe owner contacted me. After a few email exchanges, we managed to close the transaction with a couple hundred dollars. I was thankful for the grace he showed me. I’m 99 percent sure he pocketed the money, but maybe he didn’t.
What I’m most surprised by this experience was how my initial reaction was to run rather than take ownership—hide in another parking spot. I am grateful that my family was with me to remind me to own up to my mistakes and that I’m still all right after all is said and done. God’s grace is new every morning.
What keeps you from wanting to take responsibility for your mistakes? How has it worked out for you when you've taken the courageous step of taking ownership?
Kuimeuy (ku-may) Wang has been married to Kevin for twelve years and is mother to Zoe (10) and Micah (8). She lives in Silicon Valley and volunteers at school through Project Cornerstone. Her hobbies include trying out new restaurants, especially fusion ones; dabbling in art with her son through YouTube drawing videos (Sponge Bob, angels, reindeer, the Hulk); photography (but it doesn’t return the affection); and running. Her favorite book of the Bible is Ephesians; her favorite TV show is Enlisted; her go-to meal after traveling is a nice bowl of pho. Tell for when she’s tired: necklace statement pieces to draw attention away from the bags under her eyes.