Pay It Forward

 What a day!

I've always prided myself on being detail-oriented and responsible. I am a woman of my word. I pay my bills on time. I've misplaced my wallet once in my lifetime (I left it in the cart at Trader Joe's after checking out). And, until today, I've never locked myself out of my home or vehicle.

The day began with optimism and a very full itinerary. I've never been a morning person, but I can certainly appreciate initiating a busy day with an awesome work-out. Feeling refreshed, I made my way to my car, lost in thought, thinking about my to-do list for the day. As I placed my gym bag in the trunk, so too did my keys somehow find their way into the trunk just as I was closing it. I hadn't unlocked my doors prior to this incident. So I was legit, bona fide, for real, uber locked out of my car. Ugh.

With 20% phone battery remaining, I attempted calling AAA. They certainly were in no mood to answer their phone in my time of need. I hung up and called the salesperson from whom I bought my car. He directed me to MB roadside assist. I was then told someone would call me back with an ETA. He called back in ~25-30 min with an ETA of 20 min. He showed up 30 min later. Hey, it's LA and a margin of 10 min is still "on time."

Tech told me the roadside assist visits cost $125. I stood by, helpless, as he duct taped my window and started passing hanger wires through the back window. I imagine this is how thieves steal cars. He tried again and again, each attempt unsuccessful. After about an hour, he looked completely dejected, as dejected and helpless and upset and angry and sad and frustrated as I felt inside.

We started brainstorming together. Mbrace wouldn't work b/c it could only be activated from inside the car. I needed MB assist specifically b/c the keys were in the trunk; had the keys been in the chassis, I could easily grab the fob and turn off the alarm that would undoubtedly sound. Even if he rigged the car rigged to unlock via "theft mode," the computer would still register as a locked car and not allow us to open the trunk from inside. Hmm...

Where was the second key fob? I definitely remember being handed only one key fob when I bought the car. I told him I could certainly look for it at home, but I didn't remember receiving another key fob. He drove me home, where my search for the second key fob was unsuccessful. Even more annoyed and frustrated and upset, I asked him what plan B was. Plan B apparently was getting the car towed back to the dealer.

By this point, I had run out of patience (and my phone had run out of battery), and the thought of spending the afternoon towing the car to the dealer to get it unlocked brought me to tears. Oddly enough, it has been the hottest year ever in LA. Yet, as I cried in the tech's car returning to the gym from the fruitless visit home, the clouds in the sky opened up and rain fell, certainly befitting the mood and circumstances.

I asked him to please try one more time, and he kindly acquiesced. He made me wait in his car b/c of the rain. Luckily, the second attempt worked and he was able to open my car, de-program the computer and pop my trunk. Hallelujah! 3.5 hrs later! I located the second key fob in the glove compartment. It would be trite to say the rain stopped and the sun came out, but, indeed, that is what happened. He charged me $75 instead of $125 (b/c "it took a long time"), and he told me he hoped my day would get better.

As I drove to the grocery store, none other than "Don't Stop Believing" was playing on the radio. Ok, so maybe the universe was trying to tell me something. I picked up a few things, and completely caved to the gleaming Reese's peanut butter cups (my absolute fave) at the cashier. Cashier was friendly, greeted me hello, asked how my day was going and commented that she loved Reese's peanut cups too. Instead of my usual "fine, how about you," I told her the truth. I told her that I spent the last 3.5 hours locked out of my car, and I was buying the Reese's as a sort of comfort and solace.

She retrieved the Reese's from the bagging station and refunded me, said she would give it to me for free b/c it was the little things that make the biggest difference. I thanked her. As I was about to walk away, she ran out from behind her station and gave me a big hug. And she said she hoped the rest of my day was better. 

I now have two options. I can say today was total crap and a complete waste (b/c I was not able to accomplish what I hoped to accomplish). Or I can relish in the kindness that two complete strangers showed me. I have always said that adversity brings out one's true colors. Today I learned that adversity actually brings out *everyone's* true colors.

Sending good vibes to Efrain and Mary Jo for bringing me a smile when I had reached complete frustration. Mary Jo is right: it is the small gestures that make the biggest difference. Next step: pay this kindness forward.




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