Friday, September 15, 2006

Automobiles and Alcoholism

I'm an anger junkie. Most addicts are. Anger fuels resentments which in turn fuels the desire to drink (or drug, if that's your substance of choice). It's very simple. and it's very deadly.

Which is why drunks and/or druggies who are in early recovery in 12 Step programs are constantly reminded by their sponsors and old-timers that "expectations are premeditated resentments" and "you will drink over your resentments."

So, of course, I copped a major resentment yesterday, by getting angry at the local body shop because I had EXPECTED certain things (like I expected them to tell me the truth, and to do their jobs).

I should explain. About 3 weeks ago, in the middle of the night (well, my time. It was 10:45 p.m.), some woman from Connecticut who had gotten off the NJ Turnpike at the wrong exit compounded that by turning down the wrong street (mine) and, in a moment of panic, turned up a side street, threw it into reverse, and backed straight into the driver's side door of my virtually brand-new, fire-engine red, Honda Element (the "Toaster" you see in my profile).

God smiled on me that night. First of all, there wasn't that much damage. The door was just slightly rumpled. It didn't affect the operation of the door at all. Secondly, the poor lost soul was either a very good Samaritan and instantly reported it to the local police OR our local patrolman just happened to be standing there watching the whole thing and nailed her before she could escape. In either case, I was off the hook for the damages and the ball was totally in her insurance company's court. She did report it to them, as I found out later.

In due course I got a copy of the police report, her insurance information, and I made an appointment with her insurance company's local adjustor to see what they were going to do. I got a recommendation for a body shop, picked up a check for over $1,000, and dropped the car off at the shop last Monday morning, assured by the shop manager that it would only take "three days to replace the skin" on the door.

I called them yesterday afternoon to see how it was going, given the fact that we were now up to four days, instead of three. "Oh, uh, let me see what the guys in the shop are saying... hold on." (three minutes of silence), "well, they're gonna get the painter here tomorrow... it should be ready on Saturday." (Saturday? Why so long?) "Oh, there was more damage than they originally thought." (more damage? from what? when Vinny backed the car into the hydraulic lift without looking?) "I see", I said. "And when was somebody planning on calling ME and telling me about this?" "Oh, we cleared it with Allstate." "That's lovely, but was somebody planning on clearing it with me?" No answer.

Okay, so now we're at the fork in the road. I can go into the abyss and start ranting and raving OR I can take the high road and keep my cool. I opted for the cool. I kept a non-committal tone and told them that I would see them on Saturday, and that's where the conversation ended.

Now, originally I had been told that the shop was closed on Saturday. Obviously, it's not. It turns out that they have somebody there to take care of drop-offs, to settle up bills, discharge repaired vehicles back to their owners, etc.

The whole conversation went to the very core of my issues regarding control and manipulation. It pushed my most serious buttons. I HATE feeling controlled. I HATE authoritarians in my life (people who, arbitrarily act "in loco parentis" really annoy the living hell out of me). I really hate being "left out of the loop" and lied to. If somebody doesn't know something, they should just say, "I don't know" rather than delivering some stock b*llsh*t answer ("3 days") that's so old and tired that it's already been the butt of a joke in a national advertising campaign.

Does anyone remember the guy in the commercial who calls the auto body shop to find out when his car will be finished only to have the bald fat guy say, "grunt. I got three of my best guys on it right now." While in the background there are three body-shop goons, eating their lunches on the hood of the guy's car?

That's how I felt.

But there is good news in all this. The first is that I didn't go ballistic over it. I would've in the old days. I would've started ranting about suing their asses and having lawyers all over them "like cheap suits". But I didn't. I turned it over and let it go.

The 2nd part of the good news is that I didn't drink over it. I would've done that in the old days, too. I would've felt "justified" to have gotten drunk, because the world sucks, body shops suck, God hates me, everybody's out to get me, yada, yada, yada.

The bottom line is, tomorrow I'll be picking up my car around noon. Until then, I'm not in charge. Things are going just the way they're supposed to be going. In the face of zero evidence to the contrary, I must assume that things are going to be just fine.

Ya know, sometimes, when it's raining, I have to remind myself that I'm not the only person getting wet.

There are lots of other cars in that body shop this week. And they all have owners, too.


Bev Sykes said...

You've come a long way, baby. {{hugs}}

Alan said...

I am so proud of you. I used to go ballistic over the least little thing myself. Some years back Joel helped me to see that this was insane and mostly I have learned to get over it, though every now and then somebody will do something really rude in traffic and activate it again.

I can really see Ron (my Ron, not youse) struggle a lot with this same sort of thing and often feel powerless to help him let go of it.

*profound shrug*

JoyZeeBoy said...

Thanks, Bev, thanks Alan.

I used to think that everything bad in life was directed AT me. As though total strangers spent their nights thinking up ways to piss me off the next day and were deliberately stupid, just to annoy me.

It ain't all about me, anymore.


SteveSchalchlin said...

You're becoming my new favorite blogger.

JoyZeeBoy said...

Thanks, Steve. The "newbie" is honored.