Someone broke into my car the other day and I’m feeling a lot more insulted than violated.
Saturday night, we went to Chinatown and I dropped Jill off to wait for a table while I looked for a parking space. I’m a city boy, so the hunt for a free space on a side street is one of my constant adventures. Also, being a city boy, I always lock the car when I leave; except for this time, apparently.
After dinner, I went to retrieve the car and discovered a ton of stuff on the shotgun seat. The center console was open, as was the sunglass holder, and the car was a mess. Clearly, someone had been looking for valuables to steal.
And here is where I got really, really offended. My invader didn’t find anything worth taking. Apparently, my shades weren’t hip enough and Jill’s spare glasses were the wrong magnification and even our taste in granola bars wasn’t up to the foodie standards of this ne’er do well.
So I started thinking that I’ve gotta up my game here. Yeah, I need to lock the car door next time, but I also need to buy cooler stuff and have the kind of car that thieves really want to break into and the kind of treasure they’ll really want to steal and…
Wait a minute.
Am I so insecure that I care what this guy thinks about me? Am I so needy that I crave the approval of a petty thief? Apparently, the answer is ‘yes.’
Even worse, it was the second time this happened. Several winters ago, some guy stole our car so he could drive to his halfway house—really—where he dumped it. Again, nothing in our car was good enough for him to steal, other than the car, of course. C’mon, man, I had cassettes from Neil Diamond and Gary Puckett and the Union Gap and a top-quality plastic windshield scraper. No interest? Dang.
We all react like that at some point or another, giving someone else the power to judge us and convincing ourselves that we deserve their scorn. We succumb to our need for acceptance from someone who isn’t important to us, someone we don’t respect, possibly someone we’ve never met. And yet, for some reason, we fall into the trap of needing their approval, their support, their acceptance.
For all of us, there is a “they” with more influence than they deserve in our lives. It could be a person who owned us in high school, an ex, a co-worker, or a Tik Tok star. It could be a group of people who are hipper or smarter or richer or prettier than we are, at least on the surface. Whatever defines “they” for us, we tend to give them a ton of deference.
For me, this time, it was a petty thief. When you think about it, though, it’s always a thief of some sort. It’s always a person who finds a way inside our heads, messes up our minds, and leaves us to deal with the damage. And they always steal something from us, often at our silent invitation.
Going forward, I’ve got to be more vigilant about keeping the wrong people out of my car. More important, I’ll be working to keep the wrong people from claiming a place in my head.
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Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.