Judge Not Lest Ye Be… Messy

SCSSA crumpled Wendy’s bag on the floor of the front passenger’s side, a coffee-soaked napkin in the cup holder resting innocently atop sticky, stray coins mingled with toothpicks and straw wrappers and a Starbucks pastry wrapper pinned beneath the snow brush on the floor of the backseat told me all that I needed to know.

As someone who thrives on neatness and order, I used to be quite judgmental of people with messy cars. And let me be a bit more specific by stating that when I say “used to be” I mean like… a month ago.

But climbing into my driver’s seat yesterday morning to the aforementioned scene caused me to realize that I am, indeed, one of THOSE people. That’s right. I, myself, am hereby (or at least for the time being) a Messy Car Person.

In my past life, I wondered how on earth it was possible for people to ride around in vehicles with muddy floor mats, cluttered backseats, unidentifiable schmutz on the interior and random cheerios strewn haphazardly about or ground deeply into the carpet.

I marveled at others’ abilities to travel from A to B all the while overlooking such sins as dirty clothes, fast food wrappers, wrinkled bits of note paper and empty beverage cups. I mean, it’s a CAR… not a closet or a kitchen or a GARBAGE CAN! Thus, it is with great humiliation and shame that I admit… I now stand among them.

HOW did this happen? You might ask. Someone once so fussy has now just given up!? Am I merely a modern version of Sarah Cynthia Silvia Stout who would not take the garbage out? Well. It’s not quite that simple. Or maybe it is. I’m not sure. What I DO know is that I got busy. VERY busy.

I know I’ve already touched on this but I started a new job that occupies me greatly with its lengthy commute and wicked learning curve. (Not that I’m complaining… because I honestly LOVE IT!) And I started taking a class. That has actual homework. So apparently I went from having oodles of time for the luxury of tossing out the trash… to not… having that luxury.

That’s it. That’s all I got. It’s the only excuse I can come up with. Busyness. I don’t want to admit that I’m lazy or dirty or slovenly. I think I’m just busy at the moment. At least I hope that’s all it is. Hopefully it is a fleeting thing and one day, when life begins to flatten out, I’ll be Little Miss Clean Car again — looking down my perfect little nose with great disgust in heavy judgment of the Messy Car People once more.

And all will be right with the world.

My Not-So Feminist Side

Every woman wants to believe that she can and WILL take care of herself when the need arises. It is a notion of great value that my mother taught my sister and me and I have tried to impart the same wisdom to my nieces and younger female friends when applicable.

But let me be honest here. There is a part of me (and not a microscopic part either) that is MORE than happy to let a man do certain things for me.

Take cars for example. I don’t know what’s going on there. AT ALL. About the ONLY things I know how to do are pop open the trunk for groceries, prop up the hood so that someone else can poke around beneath it to figure out what’s wrong with it… and fill my own washer fluid. And the only reason I know how to take care of the washer fluid is because I go through about a gallon a week tailgating other drivers like I do.

Yesterday I experienced one of those “I-really-need-a-man-to-do-this-for-me-moments” when I had to put air in a couple of my tires that were low. It was my lunch hour… I was wearing heels… It was 18 degrees outside… In blizzard conditions… Snowing like a sonofabitch. Oh and I’d somehow managed to leave my Carhartts and ski mask at home.

Standing ankle-deep in frozen, muddy, gas station slush, struggling in gale-force winds to fill up my tires I must have looked every bit of a pathetic wretch because out of nowhere a man shows up (appropriately dressed for the harsh weather of course) and gently but firmly takes the hose from me as he says: “Honey, let me do that for you. You don’t need to be doing this. Look at the way you’re dressed.”

And you wanna know what I said?

“OK! Thank you soooo much sir!”

As I crawled back inside the shelter and embrace of my warm car and my cursing of Mother Nature ceased — I smiled to myself thinking just how nice it will be to permanently have a man around in the very near future. One who doesn’t mind braving the elements to fix a flat, change the oil and fill the washer fluid.

Who Me? Territorial? Nah.

Never let it be said that humans aren’t territorial. Otherwise, why would we have legal property lines and build fences? Why would we hang signs that label “our areas” as such? Why would we get irritated if our neighbor decides to park a GINORMOUS camper next to our driveway, obstructing our view of the street and making us feel like we live on a Hollywood set, or we’re in prison or we’ve been relocated to Big Arbs campground!?! Huh?

The following is a little internal narrative I wrote down about 2 years ago when a grumpy old fart just up and started randomly TAKING my parking spot… EVERY. DAMN. DAY. I’ve since left that place of employment for a different place … with better parking.

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My eyes narrowed when I saw him pulling into the spot.

THE parking spot. MY parking spot. I’ve never seen him park there before. Why did he decide to start now? Everyone should know by now that THAT is MY parking spot. I’ve been parking there for months ever since the layoffs started and a “prime” spot became available just outside my office window. My window. My spot.

And I heaved a heavy, aggravated sigh.

Alright. I guess I’ll just have to take the spot next to it today… and hope that this doesn’t become like a regular thing. I mean, I’d hate to have to start cutting my lunch hours short just to safeguard the spot. If I don’t… and HE starts parking there… before you know it, he’ll think it’s HIS spot. And then what will I do? I’ll have to find another spot. This really does annoy me.

So I glared at him the entire time while he squared up his car and shut off the engine and gathered his things and walked into the building.

That will show him. My iron stare. WHO does this guy think he is? I don’t even know this guy. Does he even WORK here full-time? I think maybe he’s an engineer. Oh! Look at me! I’m an engineer! I’m better than you! I make more money than you do! My job requires a lot more brains and skill and responsibility than Marketing does… I can park wherever I want to!

And I slide into the second-rate spot right beside him. Meanwhile… one of the retired guys enters the parking lot, returning from lunch, and he glares at ME!

What is YOUR problem?!? What the #@%* are YOU looking at? Why are you even here? You are retired and supposed to be coming here on a part-time, consultation-only basis. But instead, I think I see more of you NOW than I did BEFORE you retired! What is up with THAT?!? Do you have a problem with me? You don’t even KNOW me. We’ve never even spoken. Stop looking at me. Jerk.

And then it dawns on me… I just parked in HIS spot.

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Listen… when it comes to territory… the only difference between us and the animal kingdom is the fact that we don’t “mark” our territories with bodily fluids. Then again… maybe there are a few of us who do.

If there are… I really wouldn’t want to know.