Sunshine On A Windy Day Makes My Soul, Makes My Soul, Skip, Skip, Skip Away

You know those days when things don’t go according to plan? Do you choose to react or respond to the situation? It can make a huge difference to the outcome, even in a very windy car park.

LAST Saturday I went to the supermarket. The mission? To get a few household bits and meet a friend for a cuppa in the café. Lovely.

One step outside the door and the wind was up. Not mine, dear reader (I’m fairly used to my vegan diet now), THE wind! There it was, rattling fence panels, making dogs bark and causing the autumn leaves to go on an adventure all their own.

Twelve minutes or so later I’m at the supermarket. Bag in hand, I open the car door. THUD! The WIND decides to choose this very moment to connect my car door with another car door.

At this point I must confess the odd little expletive may have escaped my lips. Taking a deep breath, I look at the car next door. It’s a white car; at least, it was a completely white car, until it made contact with mine.

Today I am driving a VERY bright yellow Citroen. Now I’m parked next to a white car with a yellow door handle. In a desperate bid to alleviate the guilt and shame I ponder the new look car next to mine. A white car with contrasting yellow handles, or should I say handle? Could it catch on? Mmm…

I feel the panic surge and look around to see if any fellow shoppers have witnessed the clonk. Shoppers go about their daily chores with no shouts, no phones taking pics of me and my vehicle. There don’t appear to be any security cameras — a rare occurrence in this CCTV rich country. The coast is clear.

What a dilemma

And now comes the dilemma. At this point, I could just drive off and nobody would be any the wiser. Nobody would know unless the driver, or a passenger, spots the handle a few minutes, hours, even days, later. If I wanted to take a bit more of a risk, I could move the car to another part of the large car park, although there don’t appear to be too many other sunshiny, citrus-y cars, so a simple process of elimination would almost certainly result in me being discovered.

Or option three….my palms sweat a little at the thought of it. I could wait for the owner to come back. Really? Yes, really.

I sit back in my car. Firstly, I phone my nearest and dearest to explain what has happened. After all, it is her car whose colour I’ve decided to share with a fellow vehicle. She is very understanding, especially when I say I’ve apologised to her car Ziggy Sunshine (yes, really. In our house ALL cars must have names. It’s the law.)

I put the phone down and ponder who will be the owner. How will it go? What will be my opening statement? Will they be angry? I gulp.

About 10 minutes later and a man appears. He seems vaguely familiar, but now’s not the time to run that thought through the grey matter. And anyhow I do have rather a long track record of mis-identifying peeps. Perhaps the subject of another Medium article one day?

Taking courage in both hands I get out of my car and explain what has happened. I point to the ‘dashing’ yellow blob on the passenger door and wait for his response. It is lovely. He thanks ME for stopping, for not driving off. I feel my eyes fill up with gratitude and we both smile. I apologise yet again and he comes out with the classic ‘it’s only a car’. I want to hug him for his understanding and downright humanness. We discuss the merits of T-Cut to get rid of the yellow splodge on his white gleaming car and he declines my offer of a tenner so he can buy a bottle. (Google research showed me a bottle costs just over £6).

After a few more pleasantries, he looks me dead in the eye, smiles and waves as he drives off. My faith in human kind is restored.

With a spring in my step I go shopping.

Not again!

But wait, there’s more. There really is.

In said shop I hear a couple arguing about car door damage in the high winds and whether they were right to walk away. I can’t believe it. The WIND is wreaking havoc today quite clearly.

Grabbing a few essentials, I head for the tills and then the car. The wind has dropped, or so it seems.

As I have quite a small car and the boot is packed full, I decide to deposit my two bags of shopping in the front passenger seat. I open the door, turn around to grab the bags and then whoosh as the wind picks up and a THUD!!!!

As Victor Meldrew once uttered “I do not believe it!” The WIND has struck again and, this time, my passenger door has decided to acquaint itself with the black car next door. Ziggy Sunshine is quite the social animal today obviously!

A high-pitched moan leaves my body as I spot a white ‘scuff’ on the car in the next bay. Panic rising I tell myself to calm down. Life goes on around me as I do the classic ‘wet my finger’ thing and gently caress my car park neighbour’s door. The white scuff disappears and, in its place, the tiniest of yellow tinged marks.

The Sound of Silence

Bet you can guess what happens next? I wait. Again. This time a couple approach. Now quite averse at explaining myself, I await their response.

SILENCE.

For some time.

I explain again as the man takes a closer look at his car.

SILENCE.

I make the T-cut offer for the second time and then have to explain how it works. My fairly limited knowledge seems to satisfy them.

After a quick nip to the cashpoint I return with some money and they are on their way. No waves or smiles this time, but I can understand that. After all my car door had decided to introduce itself to their car door without an invitation. How rude!

I make my second call to the wife and explain that Ziggy Sunshine has been in the wars again. All is well with the world and I drive away happy.

Choosing To Respond Rather Than React

The moral of this tale? We can choose to react or respond to any issue. All of the people I met on Saturday chose to respond. I chose to respond, not react, when I stayed put instead of driving off. The result? Two conversations that never turned the corner into anger or frustration — an easy thing to happen when we choose REACTION over RESPONSE. One of my old party tricks.

What about you? What would you have done in this situation? When the proverbial hits the fan, do you take the time to consider your actions, the outcome you want and then respond appropriately? Or, do you just fire off a kneejerk reaction and hope for the best?

If the latter sounds like you, maybe it’s time to count to 10, slow your breathing and work out what you can learn from the challenges life sends. After all, if I hadn’t kept my cool, it could have been a whole lot worse than a tenner for a bottle of T-Cut!

PS A huge thank you to my wonderful wife and Ziggy Sunshine’s ‘mummy’ for the great graphic on this article complete with bottle of T-Cut. Thank you. x8

Asha Clearwater is an NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) qualified journalist who’s been a news reporter, features editor and arts editor, as well as editor of several national business magazines.

Today, through her business Turquoise Tiger, she coaches SMEs on the art of great storytelling to promote their products and services.

Asha occasionally freelances as a writer for national magazines and is even behind some of the information boards you’ll find strolling through Woodland Trust Forests.

Find her on Facebook and on Twitter.