Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Ripoff, a Stranger & Gideon's Fleece

I have to share this moment with you guys:

As you probably read over the weekend, I learned that my car was involved in a freak accident while in the shop for several days. Apparently, the car was being housed inside of the shop in the evenings, and while opening the facility one morning, something went wrong, as a mechanics followed his normal routine of opening the bay doors. One of the doors, apparently serviced in the wake of Hurricane Isaac, malfunctioned; the door slipped off of its track, twisted the metal frames, shattered the glasses windows, and dropped down onto my car. No one mentioned this mishap to me, but after I paid for the services on Saturday, I discovered dozens of gashes and scratches on the car. To this, the lead service writer contended that they never noticed any damage, but he conceded that they would take full responsibility. When he said that he would prepare the paperwork on Monday, I insisted that he do it immediately, and he complied. I left the vehicle on the lot, so as not to complicate the matter, and I finally went back to pick it up on Monday, only after an insurance adjustor took a look at it. That should have been the end of it, right? My next stop should have been a body shop for cosmetic repairs, right? Wrong.

I got into the car, and when I attempted to drive it down the road, I noticed that the very same shuttering and spiked RPMs that originally led me to the shop were still happening. I went right back to the mechanics with the car, and with a stoic expression, the same service writer said, “Well, that sounds to us like you have a problem with your transmission.” I was incredulous. If that is why I brought the car for service, why the hell would these guys make it a point to tell me that the problem was something other than that, and then proceed to charge me over $1,000 for something they knowingly suspected was not the problem? Anger, as a concept, barely encapsulated what was beginning to feel. In fact, I was so pissed that I wanted to just “hulk out” on everyone and everything that got in my path, but I struggled like crazy to keep it contained.

“EQ, Gary,” I kept telling myself. “I just have to have positive EQ.” But that was a little difficult for me. Not even a conversation with Adam Pfeiffer about business was enough to shift my thoughts from the fact that I had been ripped off, that my car had been damaged, and that I still had to put the car into the shop for the same worrisome problem. Again, anger, as a concept, was simply not enough to describe what I felt.

I did try to put the emotions aside, though, and I took a call from the office. Apparently, a lady who was not a client had called multiple times with a question about whether to register as an LLC or S-corp, and so, I decided to return her call. After I explained the legal and tax structures of both entities, which might have took all of ten minutes, the lady—a stranger—said that she understood, and she thanked me for taking the time to call her back. She added that the office manager had explained that I was having car troubles, and she said, “I can tell by your voice that whatever happened is pretty distressing.” At first, I only laughed, saying, “You have no idea.” But then a conversation ensued that changed everything.

The lady and I talked for an hour and fifteen minutes, moving from topics about the unscrupulous behavior of some so-called professionals to the changes in our society’s values. She went on to tell me, out of nowhere it seems, that she could tell that I had a calling to do the work that I do, and that even our own brief chat about her question had been more of a blessing to her than a simple expression of knowledge. I was a little confused as I thought back on how this conversation had gotten to such a point, and I could not help but to wonder where all of this was going. And then she told me.

Towards the end of the discussion, the lady on the phone talked about being a mother of three who aspired to instill solid values into her own children, and that she thought that she’d done a decent job, what with one in law school and the others two already in professional careers. She said that, as a parent and a Christian, she could tell that my own parents had done a great job with me, and that God had a calling on my life. Then she went into the biblical tale of Gideon’s fleece.

Gideon was a man commanded by God to free the people of Israel and purge the land of false idols, but as a man, Gideon lacked a degree of certitude about his mission. He asked God for a sign. The following passage was his request:
Gideon said to God, “If You will save Israel by my hand as you have promised—look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You said.” (Judge 6:36 & 37, NIV)
And so it was that God fulfilled that request, confirming His intentions to a leery Gideon.

I knew, right then, what was up. I had never questioned the axiom that God places people in our paths for a reason, and on this call, on the one day when I came closest than ever to letting emotion get the best of me, God used this woman, a total stranger, to remind me that He was still there and still in charge. As I realized that, the lady said, “I can tell you have a good heart. God wants you to keep it that way.” To that, I could not say a word; I honestly just took a deep breath and shed tears.

Today, following yesterday’s fiasco, I have a different disposition. I need to get up off the mat and take control of the situation. I know that, while not a perfect man, I am still a good man aspiring for excellence by His Will, and I have been given the strength and the intellect to overcome even this challenge without losing my cool about it. After all, given some of the messes with which I have to contend daily, if this is the biggest one that I have to face for the next two weeks—even if it is a personal one—then I am doing pretty good.

In a month or so, this will all be history, but I should not forget it. I needed a moment like this to remind me of just how important it is to maintain my temperament and character, even in the face of the unexpected. And I also needed to be reminded that God is always with us, and that He will use even the most random of strangers to speak the words of hope and encouragement that we need to hear. We simply have to be willing to listen.


1 comment:

Mashoud said...

I love how eloquently you get pissed off. Just picking, dude. It'll work out, I hope.

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