Posted by: loungekitten | March 13, 2010

Sometimes I Hate Being Right

So, when I got home on Thursday night, I told my mother that there was something really wrong with my car.  And that I might need to borrow some money from her in order to get my car fixed.  She asked me why I was getting so worked up, and told me that I was always creating anxiety for myself.  I told her that my life has never gone as smoothly as other people’s lives have, including hers.  Something that looks like a mountain is usually in fact a mountain, not a molehill.  (Is it molehill or mole hill?  I don’t know. . .)

So I took my car to the mechanic yesterday morning as I described in my post yesterday.  I asked my mechanic if he thought my car would make it back and forth to work for that day (40-miles round trip – I wasn’t even going to ask about the three other trips I had to make to work and school before my service appointment next Wednesday, just trying to take it one day at a time).  He thought I would probably be fine.  So I went to work yesterday, and a little over half-way there, I noticed that the windshield wipers were not working as they should be.  In fact, they wouldn’t work at all unless I kept manually pushing the switch.  Then I noticed that my battery light on the dashboard came on.  A few minutes later, my check engine light came on, and I kept hoping that my car would not just completely die on me in the middle of the road.

I finally came to my exit, and as I had to brake on the ramp, everything on my dashboard lost power.  When I accelerated, everything came back on again.  I had to make it  through two traffic lights and then I could coast as far as I could on a rather busy street to a Pep Boys (a store/repair shop which I feel has the unofficial motto of “We like to shakedown chicks we think are stupid.”  If I had not been in such dire straits, I would have tried going anywhere else).  I managed to find a balance with the accelerator that would still power my dashboard and keep me far enough behind the car in front of me that I could handle their changes in speed.  I tried to put down my window so I could signal, but it was pretty much just a whirring sound.  I was trying to wave the car behind me back so I could slow down to make my turn into Pep Boys, but since my brake lights weren’t working he came ridiculously close to hitting me.  I pulled into the parking lot, arranged for service, then one of our medics at the hospital came to pick me up (I was only down the street from work).  Hey, I had to work, someone’s got to pay for all these car repairs.

The car is still at the shop today for repairs.  Apparently, the problem is a belt in the cooling system that was “shredded” as they said.  They have to replace the tensioner and the belt.  Then, after they fix that they need to test it and make sure the alternator and the starter work.  (Shouldn’t the starter be O.K?  They got it into the garage, somehow.)  From yesterday’s visit to my regular mechanic, I know the alternator will need to be replaced soon, but hopefully not before I get my next paycheck.  (By the way, I don’t blame my regular mechanic for not finding this, the code he read yesterday was completely unrelated to this problem and it’s not like he had any reason to say that he needed to get it up on the rack to take a good look at the problem.)  I’ve got the money to pay for the repairs so far, but if they start suggesting more repairs that are crucial to the car’s operation I’m going to have to borrow money from my mom.  Who keeps on lecturing me on how I need a credit card because I can pay for stuff like this, then pay it off over a few months, as if I was going to say,”Oh! A credit card, that is a genius idea!” like some idiot who doesn’t already have Bachelor of Accounting, a Master’s of Taxation, and ten years of public accounting experience, as I do.

This is going to sound like an abrupt topic change, but I just wanted to relate something that really resonated with me.  Sandra Bullock was talking about her relationship with her husband, and how before she met him she’d never met anyone who “had her back” the way he did.  I got all misty-eyed because I know exactly what she means.

I’m not the person anyone thinks needs any help with anything.  As if I was pulled from the womb, fully formed.  While growing up, I couldn’t depend on my mother for any help with school work, while many of my other classmates could.  Until I worked on a science project with one of my friends in middle school, I had no idea what it was like to have a parent take an active interest in your project and to encourage you to find better solutions, or even just the right solution.  (My parents were separated/divorced when I was in kindergarten – my dad could have really helped me on the project I’m thinking of, actually.)  So generally, yes, I became very self-reliant by necessity.

Self-reliance in my schooling was one thing, but having people assume you can be totally competent in every situation is another thing.  When I was a teenager, my step-brothers were coming to visit us in Florida and they had to catch a connecting flight (if you’ve been other places on this blog, you know that one of my step-brothers is the exact same age as I am, to the day).  They were worried about the boys making the connecting flight, and I think I commented that I did it all the time when I flew back and forth to Pennsylvania.  The response was something along the lines of “Oh, we don’t worry about you.”  I was taken aback at that.  Seriously, you wouldn’t worry about a mature-looking teenage girl stranded overnight in an airport?  The qualified response was, “well, you would know what to do.”  Which may be true, but you know what:  Way to have my back!

And how about how when I was going to college (the first time) and I was living at home with my recently divorced father and my ten-years younger sister?  When I had a part-time job (to pay for bus fare to school, the hour-and-a-half bus ride that it was each way every day), was going to school full-time, and for my third job, assisting with raising my sister.  Is it any wonder that I only went on about five dates while I was in college?  And is it any wonder that I declared my major right away because I wanted to get out of college and be on my own as soon as possible, instead of figuring out what I really should do with my life.  And I am paying for that now.  So, again, for the continuing over-reliance on my supposed competence: Way to have my back!

And how about when I first moved here and I lived in an apartment with my brother as a roommate and how I continued to live with him in the same apartment even though he wasn’t paying his share of the rent (after he lost his job)?  Even when I found out that he kept the heat on in his room, while I had turned it off in the rest of the apartment (oh, we lived in a huge building with plenty of its own heat to go around it wasn’t as if we were freezing).  Actually, I didn’t even find this out until I was airing out his room and cleaning up after him when we were moving out.  The electricity bill was tacked onto our rent bill.  Do you think that he has ever paid back the $5,000 of rent he owes me, plus other support I provided while we were roommates?  No.  Do you think anyone has ever said one word to him to suggest that he pay me back now that for the past few years he’s had a job with an annual salary which is greater than any annual salary I ever earned while working as an accountant, even in years I earned a bonus?  No.  As a matter of fact, my mother has asked why I didn’t give him a Christmas gift or a birthday gift this year, since he was able to give me a gift certificate to Amazon for Christmas, and “because I have no money” was not a good enough response for her.  Again:  Way to have my back!

I could go on and on forever with examples, some way more personal than what I’ve related above (and to be honest, what I’ve written above is more than a little out of my “sharing” comfort zone – there may be a major edit to this post at a later time or date).  I’m just saying that for the most part, I did some of those things above because I felt that they were the right thing to do, or sometimes because I was manipulated into doing them.  And my larger point is that when it comes to something relatively small like this (all I’m asking for is a loan, and a rather small one at that) I get a song and dance about how I should have a credit card, and about how I am so selfish.  At this point in the post, you should probably no longer be wondering why I have trust issues, and at this point in my life, I can only be bemused at people’s assertions about what a selfish, ungrateful girl I am.  My only response to them is:

I guess we are all a product of our environment, aren’t we?


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