Occasionally You Get Rear-Ended

“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.”

  — F. Scott Fitzgerald

It’s not unusual to see an errant shopping cart, just not on a quiet suburban street.

It wasn’t surprising then that we noticed the cart – both yesterday and today, where it sat, unattended on a curb.

Pulling the car over with the kids watching, I opened the trunk and tossed the cart in. Dollar Tree is on our way, and a short detour en route to school is warranted when it helps clean up the neighborhood.

After dropping the car off, the kids and I talked about what the point is to do something good when no one is looking. We also speculated on why the cart was there, until we got to the next red light.


Someone had rear-ended us.

Naturally, being a cool-headed giver of time and office emergency response team member, I responded appropriately.

“Idiot,” I mumbled. The kids looked at me oddly. They were fine.

Flashers on, I got out of the car and looked at the damage. None. Just two nervous teens sitting behind the wheel of the car behind us. I told the driver, a blond headed boy in a gray t-shirt, that even a low-speed accident has consequences. Awareness is critical when driving. With a little luck, he took away the lesson that accidents can happen without warning.

The timing of doing something good with the ‘reward’ of getting hit is too much to pass up. Was my good deed a failure?

Thomas Jefferson wrote a lot about ‘failure’ in his gardening journal. He is even credited with writing that if he fails 99 times out of 100 it’s worth it for that one successful plant. Jefferson knew failure, and persisted. He’s credited with having one of the great scientific gardens of the 19th century.

Giving is like that. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. When we do good things, we want a reward and to feel good. We want to be treated well and be thanked. But that’s not how it always goes. Occasionally, you get rear-ended.

Don’t despair. Just persist. If you’re giving your time, you’re doing the right thing and you’re making yourself and your community stronger.

Failure, bad karma, destiny, or bad luck. Regardless of what it was, it gave the kids and I even more to talk about on the way to school.

Today’s gift of time … Returned a cart. Learned a lesson.

About Eric Winger

Our perception of time is key to how we use our time. The most fundamental way to change that perception is to give our time. This opens us up to new opportunities and ideas from which we can build to really make a difference. ... Yes, we *do* have time to make a difference!
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