The other day while I was climbing into my car in the Walmart parking lot, the wind blew my car door open and nicked some paint off of another car. It wasn't a super fancy car, it was a little old, the paint job was still pretty nice though.
I tried to stop the wind from blowing my door into the car and then when I didn't catch it, I stared at that tiny little scratch on the other car. My first thought was "that easily could have been there before, right?" Not true. It was totally my fault.
I sat there for a few moments. I knew I should leave a note. I knew that was the nice/right thing to do. Then I rationalized. "It's on the passenger side, they probably won't even notice." "I'm going to make it worse by leaving them a note and pointing it out." "I don't even think I have a piece of paper..." "It's not even a big deal, it's just a little paint scratch." "I'm kind of in a hurry." And with that, I told myself it was fine and drove away.
Maybe it really is fine. Maybe they haven't even noticed, maybe they never will. Maybe they did notice and didn't care, or they have completely forgotten about it by now. Or maybe the owner of that little red car is out there somewhere cursing that stranger who scuffed their paint job.
Here's the thing: It's not fine. Whether they care or not, I am the kind of person who cares. I am not the kind of person who just drives away. If someone scratched my car, I may not notice and if I did, I might be a little sad. But if someone left me a note to apologize, I'd be grateful for their kindness.
I let it bother me for probably a little too long yesterday. This is one of those situations where you can't just go hunt down the car and leave a note later. There was no fixing it. You're probably thinking I'm making too big of a deal about something so small. And maybe I am. But I am not happy with that choice I made.
When I woke up the morning after, something reminded me of this experience the day before and I started to feel guilty again. Then I thought to myself "Yes, you could have made a kinder choice, but what good are you doing moping about it now?" And I realized, I was right. We all make mistakes. Some big, some small. But we all do it. The beauty of life is change. Every moment can be a fresh start. It doesn't matter what your mistake is, if you choose to change, you can forever be a better person than you were before that moment.
So, I started fresh that next morning. I decided I would be the kind of person who leaves a kind note. I would be the kind of person who goes the extra mile. I would be better.