Sometimes in life we find ourselves in hysterical situations where we think, “This would only happen to me!” When we find ourselves in these scenarios, first we must laugh. Then, we need to pause and find something we can take away from such an experience. This recounts one of those stories in my life.
My little red Honda Civic known as Ron Burgundy, “stay classy”, had an annoying weathering strip ever so slightly peeled up on the top edge of the windshield. When you got to any speed above 55 mph the strip would start to flap in the wind and make an obnoxious noise. I chose to ignore it for a long time as any good car owner would, sorry to affirm any stereotypes here. I mentioned it to my father in hopes that he would just glue it down for me. Instead he told me, “That is such an easy fix. Just glue it down. You can do it.”
Now, I know myself and I know that I excel at many things. Using super glue is not one of those things. I grow impatient, use too much and always end up making a huge mess. I was about to drive to Minneapolis, MN with friends and knew that I would have to hear that incessant and annoying noise the whole way there if I did not do something about it. I feared for myself, but my dad believed in me, what could wrong?
So, one beautiful autumn Thursday evening I set out to quickly fix my car before the drive. I live in a newly bustling downtown. On this particular evening a lot of people found their way to my part of the city. I had parked across the street from my apartment in a sort of legal spot. With great boldness I gathered the necessary supplies during halftime of a Oklahoma State University football game to remedy the noise in time to get back before the third quarter.
As people walked all around me I started working on glueing the small strip back down. Knowing I had a tendency to rush things like this, I started slow. I put a dab of glue on the strip and held it down just long enough. Then I added a bit more and held it down. You can probably see where this is going, but I did not.
As I would add a little bit more and hold the other part would fall. So I would go back and try again. At this point, the entire weathering strip was now covered in glue, I grew impatient. I decided to just hold it with both hands long enough for it to stick.
I started holding it down pressing as hard as could. With my fingers and hands now coated in a layer of wet super glue, I knew I towed a close line. But this should be a quick fix, right?
I slowly removed my fingers from the first section, success. I felt invincible as I moved to the second section. So much so that I added a little more glue to speed the process and get back to the football game.
I pushed my hands against the strip to ensure a faster process. I waited what felt like the same amount of time and pulled to move my hands away. Nothing. I tried again. Nothing moved.
In that moment, I realized I had a major problem. I glued both of my hands to my car. Both of them.
As people walked by, I shifted my gaze downward in hopes to avert any attention while I thought through what to do next. I had created plans for how to get out of all sorts of situations. I had plans for how to get out of a bad date, what to do if I was being followed as I drove home, and what do if I ran out of gas in a foreign country. I had never thought this possible and therefore never thought through a plan of escape.
But alas, I found myself outside my apartment with my hands glued to my car. No way to get to my phone and with too much pride to ask for help from a random stranger walking by me. My mind raced. I feared I would end up spending the night out there or at least be stuck there until my roommate came home and realized I was not home. I strained my neck in hopes to see someone at the coffee shop across the street that I knew.
My situation seemed bleak and dire.
Then a car pulled into the parking spot next to me. This parking spot is not marked and many think it is illegal to park there, which it most likely is. They parked and I could hear them discussing whether or not it was legal. Suddenly they looked over at me, the girl nonchalantly holding her hands to her windshield just acting natural, and asked if they could park there. “You’ll be fine!”, I exclaimed with overcompensating joy. They smiled back and began to get out of their vehicle and walk away.
I, again, wondered how long I would be here and at what point I should ask for help. Then the driver turned around and asked, “Are you ok?”
In that moment I considered responding with a yes, I was just cleaning off my windshield or some other unlikely and unbelievable story to save face. But it was getting dark and I didn’t know if anyone else would ask. So I told this stranger I glued my hands to my car. She smirked and asked if she could help.
I wanted to hug her but I could not because I glued myself to my Civic. This lovely woman happened to be a nurse and had some scissors in her car. She kindly retrieved them and graciously cut me free. I thanked her incessantly and we both went on our way.
I never did get that window strip glued down, but I did learn a lot from my experience. First, I am not allowed to use super glue alone, ever. Second, so often in life I let pride get in the way. I do not ask for help because I feel I can do it all alone. But life is so much more beautiful when it is shared with those around us. We must stretch ourselves to let others in even when we are glued to a car. It is easy to live a life where we are vulnerable on our terms. It is easy to construct strategic walls around ourselves and only show people the acceptable things. But then we are not really living.
I had to accept that I needed help. The kind stranger went out of her way to help me. How often in my life am I glued to a car and a tell everyone I am fine? We need to stop lying to ourselves and be real with the people we trust.