I make a lot of mistakes. All the time. Lately it’s been missing scheduled phone calls. I’m not sure if it’s the time zone or my inability to keep track of passing time in our new country. Either way, I feel like crap every time I stand someone up. My mistakes are not limited to missed phone calls. I have a pattern of gaffes and oops-daisies that pop up on a regular basis. My routine: Do something cringe-worthy, feel dumb, apologize/fix error/etc, and eventually forgive myself. Then I make another mistake and feel dumb again. Today I felt extra dumb and I almost cried. The exact reasons aren’t important, but I feel like I should tell you anyway. It’s fun to hear about other people’s mistakes, it gives us perspective.
Yesterday we rented a car from my new friend, Flaco, who lives in the next town over. He killed himself to get it to us before he left town and then the first day we had it, I accidentally left the headlights on and the battery died.
Coincidentally, a wonderful guy (bound to be another new friend) named Marvin came to our house to figure out what was wrong with our water pressure since it had died down to a dribble. While he was here, I mentioned, in broken Spanish, that our car was dead. He told us about his friend who specializes in VWs (the dead car is a Golf- also the type of car Brian bought for me when we were dating, awwww!) who could come over and look at the battery. Manuel, the third great guy of this story came, he saw, and then he swapped our car battery for his car batter to see if that was the problem. It seemed like a lot of work to me, but through more broken Spanish I discerned that this was all a part of his process. Eventually, Manuel and I discussed how he needed to take the Golf’s battery somewhere to charge it for an hour or two. Google Translate helped us through this clunky convo.
While he was off charging the battery, Marvin messaged me that I would owe Manuel the mechanic 15 mil in colones (Costa Rican currency) for his time, work, and back and forth driving. I agreed that the equivalent of $30 usd was fair considering all that he was doing and it was a Sunday. My brain then put these numbers into the disorganized file cabinet that is my memory. The numbers mixed and mingled and when Manuel returned and finished up the car, I handed him $30mil (60 US dollars). He looked confused, but I forced the money in his hand.
It was a silly currency flip-flop in my head. Money and numbers don’t always stay where they are supposed to in my head and I hate that. It’s something I try never to own; meaning I try never to say, “I’m bad with numbers” or “I mix up monetary values especially when converting currencies.” But I feel like saying here and officially forgiving myself for my missteps. I make mistakes from time to time, but I have lots of tools to double-check myself so I don’t overpay by double or some other wacky switch-a-roo.
The other thing I’ve observed is that my mistakes open the door for a heap of grace. My friend Traci thanked me for extending grace to her and I think about that all the time now. I realize how many times we can offer grace/understanding/patience to those who make mistakes. I need to extend grace to my children more often. They drive me crazy every 5-7mins, but they are wonderful humans who are allowed to break wine glasses, leave a mess, and oversleep just as often as I do (which is often) without me losing my mind.
Grace comes to me often and today was no exception. I wrote to Marvin about my mistake. He laughed (I know because he used several laugh emojis) and then called Manuel. He assured me Manuel was probably equally confused and would return half my money. He noted that Manuel was a very trustworthy guy. Within a half hour, Manuel returned and handed me 15 mil and I gave him a tip for his troubles. I was still feeling sensitive and foolish, but I tried my best to laugh and apologize my way through the interaction.
My dear Flaco found out about the ups and downs of the day and said that I wouldn’t need to pay to rent the car that day since I didn’t get to use it (because of my own mistake, mind you). I thanked him profusely.
The desire to cry still welled up inside of me. Why? Everything had worked out. I think I wanted to cry because I was embarrassed. I had to ask for help from people who were on their day off work. My mistakes imposed on others. I had made silly and avoidable mistakes. I wanted to cry because, at age 40, I am neither too young or too old to have much of an excuse for my foolishness. I also wanted to cry because I was grateful. How did I attract such kind people (yes, I’m aware that all three were making money off of me to some degree) who continued to work with me even after I had officially become a pain in the ass.
My quick wrap-up to this story is that we can all be nice, gracious, patient, and kind to others. We all deserve that treatment, too. Really. I love being nice, but I get overwhelmed when others are too sweet. I’m going to work on my ability to receive without crying in gratitude. Tomorrow. I’ll put that on my to-do list for future acts of kindness.
Tonight, however, I’m going to cry a little bit. I’ve been holding it in all day and it really needs to come out.