Warning: This blog is about to get personal.
I was feeling pretty good this week. Classes had been cancelled due to weather. Work was going well. I was getting some writing done and hanging out with friends (sidenote: Hidden Figures is an awesome movie). I had some cabin fever, as they say, from being snowed in for a few days, but nonetheless I felt GOOD. My hair had started to look a little too Shaggy and Scooby-Doo for my liking, so I decided to brave the snow and get a haircut that I could barely afford. It was a new style I’d never had before but was excited about. I looked myself in the mirror at the salon and silently said “You got this, stud.”
And then I went walking out of the salon to find my tire 100% flat, the rim bent half to hell and popping out like a gouged eye. Confidence? Gone.
I’d just gotten this exact tire fixed not two weeks earlier – before the snowstorm hit my car and my car hit the curb, attempting to swerve out of the way of another vehicle climbing the much-too-steep hill at my apartment complex. That mistake had just caught up to me. I called my girlfriend so she and her mom could come save me from the 10-degree weather. They were kind enough to bring a jack so I could get my spare put on, and then followed me to the tire shop where I found out that if I wanted to drive to work anymore I’d be paying $1,000 for – not one – four new tires and rims. All the tires are bald and all the rims are “extremely rare” sizes.
“No problem,” I told my concerned girlfriend. “I’ve got a whole three dollars.” I made a monthly account to pay off a portion of the $1,000, and for the rest it was time to make the call that almost no self-aware college student wants to make: “Hey, mom…can I borrow $400?”
“What happened, sweetheart?!” She asks in a panic. Of course, being the mother she is, she forked over the $400 with an “I love you” and a “be safe in that weather.” Regardless, the tires and rims had to be special ordered still, and they wouldn’t be there for two days. The tire guy pops my spare back on and sends me on my way, fending for myself in the snowy wasteland with three treadless tires and a spare that’s about a half-foot wide. I go to work – sulk all day. I head home – don’t find a parking space and can’t climb the hill to my personal carport. Defeated, I pull back onto the main street to find a roadside space and promptly get stuck.
This is a little problem. Nothing to get bent out of shape about…but, then again, my day hasn’t been the best. At this point I’ve been attempting to dig my car out of the snow with a foot-long windshield scraper for an hour. This is a little problem. Nothing to get bent out of shape about. But, my car is less than two feet off the road and cars are having to swerve to not hit it.
I’m a person of faith. I pray to God, ask him to bless my meals, protect me on the daily, watch over my loved ones. I don’t tithe like the Bible says I should. I don’t attend church like I’m told I should. Despite all that, I do what I can to help others and be the love and light a Christian should be. But now, at 12:30am, as I’m on my knees in waist-deep snow feeling like everything sucks, I yell at God in a way probably no one should, and I punch my car with a frozen hand.
It’s now that I realize I’m a 20-year-old in a brand new trench coat fighting back tears on the side of the road, and I decide to leave my car to get hit and trek to my apartment. I make pasta in my heatless kitchen and eat in bed, falling asleep while reading The Explorer’s Guild – Volume One (you should check it out)…
The next morning I wake up groggily, shower and dress, skipping breakfast to get down to my car and try to move it again. This time a guy was walking by and so graciously chose to stop and help me. He told me his name, chatted to me about his life and stuff he’s going through, and I gave him a ride because I know from personal experience that walking in this weather isn’t fun. Still not feeling great about my own situation, I took some solace in the “I’m not alone” tripe that’s so often used. After dropping the guy off, I couldn’t find a parking place and ended up parking my car at work so I could walk home, change into my work clothes, and walk back to work.
After I’ve had my much needed coffee and am headed out of my apartment, I see smoke down the hill. Walking closer, I find myself surrounded by fire trucks and firemen and police officers and onlookers. And then I see it: one of the other residents, who wasn’t home, has had their apartment go up in smoke.
That settled on me like a freaking boulder.
I had a half-mile walk to think about how selfish I’d been the last 24 hours. My tire was busted, and I had help. I had to spend a bunch of money, and I had help. I got stuck in the snow, and I had help. I’d legitimately yelled at God over my less-than-great day – full blown movie style. And the very next day, this person I don’t know could be losing everything they have, and they weren’t even home.
Humility sucks…because it always gets you right when you need it the most and want it the least. Humility sucks because it makes you stop and think about others when you least want to. Humility is the best friend that everyone needs, that doesn’t ever say what you want it to and always says what you need it to. No matter what you’re going through, remember that somebody might have it worse right now.
Humility sucks because it gives perspective, and perspective doesn’t put our self-pity first.