them’s the breaks…

by Bella Rum

I’m cynical. I am. I prefer the word skeptical because it’s less of an indictment of my fellow-man and more of an exercise in good judgment, but cynical is more appropriate.

The first time I took my car out of the garage after our little “slow spin,” it produced a nerve jarring squeal that persisted. H said it was the breaks – (oops! brakes) something bent or stuck in one of them. He told me it could just be something as simple as a rock. After looking at all the debris that had fallen off piece by piece on the garage floor, I could believe anything.

H called the same place we used the last time we had a problem with the car. They told him to bring it in, and they’d take a look. I did what I always do. I asked H how much he thought it would cost. I don’t know why I expect him to know these things, but I always ask and he always says, “Depends on what’s wrong.”

Yes, we have high level conversations like that all the time. Ever the optimist, he repeated that it could just be a pebble that needed to be removed. I said, “Well, if it’s only a pebble, they’ll never admit that. They will never say that nothing is wrong.”

About thirty minutes after we returned home, the garage-guy called and said that a rock was lodged in there and was the sole culprit. He removed it and the charge was $16 for a service fee. Don’t get me wrong. The guy tried to get us to do a few other things that H always does – change the filter, oil, etc. – but that’s understandable. The big thing here is that he told the truth, which H expected him to do and I did not.

I don’t like being this way, but I always expect my fellow man to take advantage when he gets a chance. That’s cynical. Skeptical would be more about bringing critical judgment to each individual situation. I think I’m always worse when I lack even basic knowledge about the situation. I feel more vulnerable. In other words, ignorance breeds cynicism.

Anyway. After all these years, I’m beginning to see that I’m only right half the time about these situations and H is right the other half. So the outcome is 50/50 no matter your attitude (not a scientific study). It took me so long to come to this understanding because my nature overrode my intellect. Well, practically. Fighting your natural way of being is an exhausting game. Nature is a powerful thing.

H has fared just fine with his give-everybody-a-break-till-they-screw-you philosophy. We’re side by side at the same place in life. He didn’t end up in a gutter somewhere due to gullibility. I’m sure he’s been “taken” a few times, but so have I. I guess you could say H never goes looking for trouble. I used to think this made him more vulnerable, but not so much anymore.

I’m going to try to give my fellow man a break from now on (at least till next time).