Vandalism, Theft and…Gratitude?

It was a regular Thursday morning. I got in my car to start heading to my local Toastmasters Club meeting. I closed the door and could still hear the outside world as opposed to the usual quiet nothing that results. How weird, I thought.

I initially thought it was just the back window, but the individual(s) had tried to break the front passenger door by prying it open from the side, then did the same and successfully broke the back window, damaging other parts of the car in the process. Sheesh!

And that’s when I noticed the absence of a rear passenger window.

And the broken glass in the rear passenger area.

And the papers and things strewn about on the passenger seat and on the floor.

Our car had been damaged, the thief (or thieves) having made off with what I think was less than $10 in change and maybe some bank stubs and possibly a cheque book (not much use these days without matching ID, though I’ve been checking our bank balance daily, just in case).

And shortly afterwards, it started.

First, I thought about how lucky I was that the car was still operational, meaning that I could still get to my meeting. And how lucky we were that it hadn’t been raining and that there was no rain in the forecast for the next five days.

Second, I thought about the person(s) who committed the crime and how I wouldn’t want to trade lives for the world. How little people have to think of themselves to hurt others like this in the hopes of scoring a few bucks, a few electronics and maybe a nice pair of sun glasses. (Am I missing something? What else do people leave in cars?) I thought of what might drive someone to do this and about the meth addict my husband apprehended as he was trying to steal a neighbour’s bicycle earlier this year. Hopelessness and desperation are the ultimate blinders to consequence.

Third, I was filled with gratitude at the thought that, yes this is an inconvenience, but we have the time and the means to correct the situation:

  • Time to deal with the hassle
  • Means in the form of money in the bank and a kind neighbour willing to lend us his garage if it rains

Have I called the person/people involved a**holes under my breath a few times? Sure. Wouldn’t you? 

But here’s the thing: I never got mad, never got sad, and never felt hopelessness or despair. 

I just felt whole, despite the curve ball thrown our way. 

We're fine. We were able to file a police report, an insurance claim and we can afford the deductible and the time to take care of it all.

A disaster? No. An inconvenience? Yes. I can’t say the same for the perpetrator’s circumstances. And that’s how anger morphs into empathy, regardless of the fact that we were wronged in the process.

This is yet another lightbulb moment for me as to how financial independence (or, for some, even simply having a fully-funded emergency fund) can fundamentally change our outlook on life. 

It can take what could be considered an emergency, a tragedy, a violation or worse, and recategorize it, filing it into the plain old “sh*t happens” bucket. 

Life’s unexpected turns are sure easier to deal with when we our general outlook is a positive one.