Yesterday was supposed to be an exciting day. It turned out to be bizarre.
I went to my job interview. I feel like it went well. But based on the past six months and what Stoicism teaches me, I’m doing my best not to get my hopes up. It’s actually going pretty well. For myself, I can simply “go to a job interview, do my best, and accept either outcome.” I know that’s reality. But it’s been difficult dealing with the influences from well-meaning friends and family: “You got this one! Everything will turn out great! They’d be stupid not to hire you!”
We all know these bits of “encouragement.” Certainly friends and family are well-meaning. But it doesn’t prepare us for reality. “They’d be stupid not to hire you”? Maybe. But then I’ve had a lot of encounters with “stupid” people recently. Of course, responding in such a manner makes your friends view you as extremely pessimistic and like you have no goals in life. No, I do have a goal to get a job so I can pay my bills. But I also acknowledge that simply having the right qualifications and background doesn’t mean you’ll get hired. People are full of judgements, and so there’s an element of chance involved when we are trying to get hired.
Anyway, the interview seemed to go well. I really liked the interviewers. There were three, and they were all friendly. I felt very welcomed and at ease (a true feat, considering my social anxiety!) And luckily I made an impression even on the receptionist because she submitted the print out from my typing test—105 wpm. 🙂
So I was driving home, happy that I simply survived an interview, when a mail delivery truck in front of me stopped on the main road at a mailbox. I saw him, moved into the middle lane to go around him, but somehow managed to bump the back left corner of the huge rubber bumper of his truck. I quickly pulled over, got out of my car, and asked him as he got off his phone, “Did I hit you?” (It was so slight, I wasn’t even sure!) To which he responded, “I think so, but honestly, I wasn’t even sure if I was hit. I had to call my supervisor to let them know. Is there even any damage?” We walked around his vehicle, all we could find was a scuff mark on the rubber bumper. On my own car, nothing. “There’s not even any damage,” he said, “You should just go.”
Seriously, I’m going to leave the scene of an “accident” I just caused?
We moved our cars to a side street where we chit-chatted waiting for his supervisors to arrive to investigate. The mailman said he assumed they’d see that there’s no damage, just report the incident on their own papers, and then call it a day. But when the supervisor arrived, she got out of her car and the mailman said, “It’s her? Oh crap, I’m so sorry. I feel sorry for you.” She asked me for my information, which I wrote down on her clipboard. She investigated the vehicles and started taking pictures of unrelated marks on my vehicle. If you’ve read my Stoic Serenity posts, you might have read the one where I mention that I was driving refugees around to appointments for three years, and that many of them weren’t accustomed to being careful with vehicles. My car has scratches and dings on it. Not over-the-top, but it’s not perfect by any means. Well the lady started taking pictures of all these marks that have been on my vehicle for years; marks that I’ve left simply because I don’t see the cosmetics of my vehicle’s exterior as being inherently valuable. (Let me just say that this taught me that despite how you value your car personally, leaving cosmetic defects in it could come back to bite you in the ass later, even though it’s completely unrelated). As the supervisor was inspecting the old marks on my car, the mailman wrote down his name and phone number and slipped it to me saying, “You and I both know this is silly. Here’s my information just in case they take this out of hand. You can see that they’re blowing this way out of proportion.”
Next thing we know, the police arrive. The officer asks me and the mailman, “We had a little accident here?”
“Everyone ok? No injuries or anything?”
“Any damage to the vehicles?”
We showed him the scuff marks on the mail truck bumper. The police man said there really wasn’t anything for him here. Well the supervisor lady suggested that he measure the height of the dings on my car to see if they matched the mail truck bumper.
The mailman and I insisted that there was no damage to the vehicles from the incident.
The policeman looked at me, confused. “But your car hit his, correct?”
“Yes, my car bumped his.”
After watching the police officer half-assedly use a measuring tape, he determined that the marks on my vehicle didn’t match up with the scuff on the mail truck bumper (duh). And he made a speech to me, the other driver, and the supervisor that the police do not need to be called to the scene of an accident unless there is injury, death, or significant damage. The other driver and I nodded in agreement. The supervisor looked dumbfounded. Then the supervisor says, “Well what about those scuff marks on her front right wheel?”
Do you see the scuff marks? Despite me readily admitting that I hit the other vehicle, it was apparently these visible marks (that I could lick my finger and erase!) that made the difference between me getting a ticket or not. “Damage,” and to my own vehicle!
We all look. There we saw two black scuffs on the silver metal.
The police officer thought for a moment, announced importantly that because the marks were on the wheel, and the wheel rotates, we cannot use a measuring tape to determine if they’re at the right height. (duh). “This changes things, though,” he said. And he walked off to his patrol car and came back with a ticket for me for $148 for “negligent driving.” Fine. This had to be the most ridiculous experience ever, but I can own up and take responsibility for bumping his vehicle. I think this is .01% of Seneca’s own frame of mind when he was ordered to commit suicide. It’s not that he agreed with the “law” or that the law is so good that it must be lived up to and obeyed! Rather, the law is just one of the indifferent things we must deal with in life.
Up until this point, however, I had remained very calm. I made a mistake. I bumped his vehicle. But after the officer left, there was nothing more to be done on my end. I ambled back to my car to get inside. The mailman’s supervisor came over to me with the paper I had already filled out for her and asked, “I need your driver’s license number.” “It’s right there,” I pointed out for her. “Oh, and I don’t understand the Florida registration tags. What’s this?” “That’s the VIN number, and I already wrote it down for you there.” “Oh. And what’s the name of your employer?”
“Oh…I, uh… I bet the ticket hurt you extra with you not having a job and all… Uh… have a nice day.”
Thank you very much lady. I have no problem owning up to my mistakes, but for whatever reason, you felt you had to get me pinned for something. So you succeeded in making sure I got a ticket, fine. But now that you know more of my own personal story, now that you know there’s a human soul inside of me, now you feel bad about it? What did you think was inside me? A Chuckie doll?
And I drove off. God. That wasn’t even the end of it.
I got home and started looking at the stack of papers the officer had given me. One was a huge form that required me to draw diagrams of the accident and whatnot. I started filling it out, thinking this whole thing was blown WAY out of proportion. and it was quickly adding more personal disdain for my own country. Then I looked at the top of the form: “This form must be filled out for all accidents that have resulted in injury, death, or property damage valuing over $1,000.”
I took that form, drove down to the Police Department headquarters, and talked to the ladies at the front desk.
“I got in a fender-bender today and the police officer instructed me to fill out this form.”
They both stared at me.
“But at the top of the form here it says, ‘This form must be filled out for all accidents that have resulted in injury, death, or property damage valuing over $1,000.'”
“That’s correct. What was the damage to the other driver’s vehicle?”
“A scuff mark on the rubber bumper.”
“And to your vehicle?”
“A scuff mark on my wheel.”
“Oh, well I’ll take that from you then.” And she took the form out of my hands. At this point, that police officer really has lost all credibility with me. I have his business card. Should I complain about him? It scares me to think how common this is: these guys “are the law.” We follow whatever they say for fear of being punished further, because they hold some authority. Yet he didn’t even know the protocol for his own job. Scary as hell.
Well, I felt better after that small victory. After the kind ladies directed me to the STOP class (driving class so I can get the points off of my license), I went directly there and registered for the online “defensive driving course.”
“Oh!” the girl said, “You just got this ticket today!”
“Yup. A fender bender. The only damage to both vehicles was scuff marks. The other driver had told me that I should just leave. But I stayed and ended up with the ticket. That’ll teach me to be honest,” I joked.
It’s tempting to try to refocus my values on how society works and see how I can get ahead in society. Yes, I’d have more money and less points on my license if I had just left. But should I really be prepared to sacrifice my honesty and integrity next time, just so I can keep some money and a clean license? It’s tempting, especially when society inadvertently rewards this type of thing. But it’s not what I want to stand for, it’s not who I want to become. Anyway…
As I got back home and started the course, it asked me to answer a few questions to provide my “driving profile.” Mind you, I’m taking this course because I “caused a car accident.” After I filled out the questionnaire honestly, the results said,
“Congratulations! You’re already a defensive driver!”
Seriously, this whole thing is ridiculous. The positive side? As I remain unemployed, at least I have some “goals” now, such as finishing this absurd online driving course.
In the afternoon, I went to a CPA to try to get my tax amendment sorted out. (My significant other took me to this CPA because it was in a scary location, haha). In the end, the CPA couldn’t do anything because I need to find out how to get a certain form from somewhere. So I’m scheduled to return Monday evening. Oh well.
After that, we went to an Ethiopian restaurant and had some delicious food, although it was too spicy for my significant other.
Then on to our next venture; and that’s when disaster struck:
Just the other day, I saw that one of my favorite singers was going to be performing at a small venue in town. I asked my significant other if he wanted to go and we promptly purchased tickets.
So last night after the Ethiopian food, we ended up walking around downtown for 45 minutes just looking for the concert venue. Finally we found it, but we ended up missing the only opening band that we were interested in. (The show wasn’t supposed to start until 9:00; we got there at 8:45). More opening bands were playing, and while we were waiting, my significant other ordered me drinks from the bar (I drink too much, honestly. He doesn’t drink at all.) After three drinks, I told him that was more than enough, but he saw that I was “having a good time” and enjoying myself, so he ordered a fourth drink. He then went somewhere for a second (I don’t remember where) but I felt incredibly ill suddenly and so I laid my head and arm on the table. When he returned, I sat up and promptly began to vomit. I quickly covered my mouth and went inside the restroom. It was not fun. I was embarrassed, I felt terrible for ruining the evening, I felt disappointed for not being able to see the actual singer we came for. I felt like an irresponsible child that needed to be supervised. When I came back out, we listened to one song from the singer and then my SO looked at me and said, “You’re sick. We need to take you home.”
He drove me back home. He carried all my crap inside my apartment (jacket, tax papers, purse, etc). He helped me crawl into bed, and then he went home.
I’d been really looking forward to the concert, having a good time with my SO. And I completely ruined it.
I’m about ready to give up alcohol entirely. But the truth is, I don’t really want to. In my defense, I did say I’d had enough. But I didn’t need to slurp down the final drink. I should have asked for water. I think I’ll stop having alcohol in my own home, and if I have a drink in town, it will be limited to two. My god, if I could have my SO forever, I wouldn’t touch another drop of alcohol…
Well that’s the story of how my should-have-been-exciting day turned to rubbish of which I’m ashamed.
I suppose the only thing I can do is try to learn from my mistakes.