So I got car shamed last week and it was lame. Here’s the back story:
I was at work when I got an email from one of the tenants (we rent spaces to people) urging me to check out an article on how to give my car a poor man’s paint job. Why? Here’s the back story:
I drive an older car (see above). It’s a 1991 Honda hatchback station wagon, and it has some paint peeling off of it, not unlike a lot of cars you see of that vintage.
And I love that car. I even named her Neenee. She’s reliable, and when she has problems she’s cheap to fix and rebounds like a newborn. She just won’t quit, like the woman who drives her.
What’s more, I really appreciate my vehicle. It get’s me to my part-time gig safely and reliably, and is cheap on gas to boot. Best 1200 dollars I ever spent.
Which is why I got irritated when this guy sent this weird, slightly insulting email.
It’s really my ego that got defensive and pissed off, as can be deduced by the following diatribe that rolled through my head shortly after receiving the email:
“Who does this moron think he is sending me an email like that? I’m not poor, I’m smart with my money. And I don’t need to show off in an outside-my-means leased car to prove my worth to random people like him. Plus: I’m here to work asshole, not to deal with weird, passive aggressive messaged like this.”
Whoa! Do not poke the bear! But I know where that aggression is coming from. I have a hard time with ego-centric comments, which I’m guessing comes from my long-standing commitment to my own ego, which is still alive and well. I’m making progress, but it clearly likes to take center stage on occasion.
And the fact that I worked for and with so many egotists for most of my life is a top contender for why I voraciously reject men who try to dominate me with not-so-passive aggressive comments.
But here’s the thing I know and acknowledge: the fact that I get so pissed off is proof that my ego is still kicking it old school. It wants to be in control. So when it perceives a comment as negative, it takes off in full justification mode (case in point the rant a few paragraphs up.)
But when I take the time to breathe and 5-4-3-2-1-it (have you read Mel Robbins’ book yet? Doooo it!) I can take back the reigns.
Still, even with all that knowledge and understanding, I’m fascinated over why this person tried to car shame me.
This guy’s ego-centric comments come in many more flavors. Car-wise though, he has made cracks about mine before. And he makes cracks about other people’s cars too. So the psychologist in me just wants to know why the f*** he cares about what other people’s cars look like. Seriously, what gives?
And this isn’t the first person who has not so subtly alluded to the fact that my car isn’t acceptable as is.
I had a family member openly admit to being embarrassed about getting a ride in it. And an acquaintance was adamant that we should lease a brand new Honda and get rid of the old one. “It’s only X amount of dollars per month…”
But that’s my point: it’s X amount of dollars per month. Why would I spend a bunch of money, or borrow cash from a bank to buy a car just to appease the people who are uncomfortable with how mine looks? Especially when my car still works?
I’m not going to pimp my ride alas Xzibit (remember that show? They need to bring it back) when there’s no return on investment. A paint job on a 1991 Honda does not serve someone who is in empire-building mode. (Thanks for those two paragraphs ego – but I’ll take the reigns again now)
Regardless of who said what and when it’s all so fascinating to me how uncomfortable my car makes other people.
Every single one of them is living in the faux-zone. And they’ll do whatever it takes to keep up the pretenses – overspending, ruining their credit and causing themselves heaps of anxiety in the process (case in point: that family member who found my car unacceptable.)
What these people seem to have in common (oh I’m in dangerous territory here with all these stinky assumptions that are rolling out) is that in rejecting me and my car, they reject themselves.
They have these self-perceived inadequacies, and instead of facing them and working on them, they choose the easy route: pointing out other people’s perceived issues.
Even if said person doesn’t see them as being issues.
If I’m honest, there are moments where I feel the pull to live in faux-mode. It’s not surprising, as those beliefs were ingrained in me from a young age. But I’m working on them.
Would I like a new car with a shiny new paint job? Yes. But I refuse to go into debt over it, and I’m not in the tax bracket (yet – but soon) where I’d be comfortable dropping a lot of coin on a car.
These days I do my best to follow the old school rule: if you can’t afford to pay cash, don’t buy it. I’m all about good credit ratings, probably because I wasn’t for so long.
So maybe this push from the egotist at work is a lesson, there to reaffirm what I already know: it is ridiculous to worry about how things look to others.
All that matters is that I stay true to what I know to be right for me.
These days I fancy myself a pretty good business woman. And I know it’s a bad business decision to sink money into something that gives no return on investment. Case in point, a paint job on a 1991 Honda.
And I’m a realist – I know sooner or later we will have to upgrade our car. Which means we will look after Neenee as best we can, and keep on saving our cash money until the time comes.
It’s very likely that we may borrow money to get a newer car down the road.
But the purpose of whatever new car we do get will be because we need it. Not to appease the egotistical need to live up to the expectations of others.
So even though my ego wanted to tell this guy to f** off, I listened to logic and Eckart Tolle, both of which reminded me that aggression would only disrupt my commitment to living in a peaceful state.
And I’ve already allowed my peace to be disrupted enough when I allowed myself to be temporarily consumed with that email when it came through. Enough ruminating on that garbage.
So what did I do? How did I handle this not-so-passive aggressive snark mail?
I said and did absolutely nothing, save for a bit of reflecting.
I acknowledged that this guy has no tact and that it’s not my job to show him that maybe he should do some thinking as to why he is so obsessed with my car.
And I realized that his comment was just a comment, and it’s my choice to keep thinking about it or not.
And I acknowledged my own ego getting riled up about someone elluding to me being less than because of the car I drive, and told it, “Not today ego! Not today!”
Jerk at work -1.