We went out to some friends last night for supper, and apart from having some good old Cape Town natter and laughter (they are fellow Saffas), we all shared some interesting memories. Of good and bad times, challenging and fun times, and, for me, of times when I got things, well, just wrong!
I told them of a time some years ago when we were living in Zimbabwe. I was working as an in-house PRO for a computer company and, at the end of a busy Monday, I left the office and went to my car, which was parked in a central parkade. For some reason, that day, one of the parkade exits was closed so all the rush-hour traffic was heading towards the same exit, and nothing was moving fast. I stopped behind a long line of cars on the downward spiral towards said exit, when the car behind me rear-ended me. It made such a noise and I was not at all pleased. Livid, actually.
I stormed out of my car, ran to the rear bumper to see what damage this idiot had caused. I sighed and I sobbed and, to be honest, acted like a right proper prima donna. The poor guy who had driven into me was apoplectic with apology. He was, well, grovelling. He said, “I’m SO sorry, my foot slipped off the brake and I just couldn’t help it. I’m really really sorry. I don’t know what to say. I’m so so so sorry.”
Being the ungracious wench that I was, I raised my eyebrows, allowed him to grovel a bit more and soon realised there was no damage to my or his car. Did I let the poor guy off the hook? Hell, no. I held on to his anguish and squeezed it in my palm till the sweat dripped from his brow. I cast him a sideways glance, turned on my heel, gathered my voluminous skirt and flounced back to my car. I might even have flicked my hair.
And here’s the thing. When I had jumped out of my car in anger, I left the motor running. The keys were in the ignition. And when my car door slammed, it slammed shut. Locked. My car door was locked. And I couldn’t get back in. All the cars in front of me had long since moved on, and the queue of cars behind me was growing apace and growing impatient. I. Could. Not. Get. Back. Into. My. Car.
Now what? Where to turn? What do I do? And did I mention that I was seven months pregnant? I’m just saying…
The poor guy from behind me could see something was amiss. Mainly because I couldn’t get back into my car. He walked towards me with something that looked like power, or maybe it was my karma I saw glinting in his eyes.
“Can I help you?” he ventured.
“Umm, I’m locked out of my car. The keys are there,” I said, tapping helplessly on the closed window of the locked car door.
“Maybe I can help you, let me see what I’ve got in my car,” he said as he ran off to his car to fetch something. He sauntered back to my car, and was that smugness I saw all over his face? He brandished a massive bunch of keys and said, “Let’s see if any of these work.”
He tried about five keys in my lock, and on the sixth attempt managed to unlock my car door. He held the door open for me to climb back into my car, and waited for me to gather my pride and dignity and pull it all back into the car with me. I looked up at him and said, “Thank you SO much,” before I slumped behind the steering wheel.
I don’t know what I was feeling at that moment. Angry. Embarrassed. Bemused. Blonde.
“No problem,” he said, as he turned on his heel and, dare I say it, swaggered back to his car, whistling, and twirling the keys around his fingers. I could swear I saw a fist pump before he jumped back into his car. But I couldn’t be sure of that as I’d already screeched off into the blushing sunset.
If ever I’ve had comeuppance run and slap me in the face, it was at that moment. It taught me the value of grace and reciprocity. And the value of the Biblical truth of “do unto others” … because when karma bites, it really hurts.
Sunshine signing off today.