So wrong

smogcheckAre you kidding me? I’m sitting in the musty Smog Check waiting room, watching through the window as the 18-year old kid with the greasy hands tries to get my car done before closing time. I’m already annoyed about this “creative” way that the state of California takes my money. Then I see another customer, a woman in a ratty blue jean jacket and Giants cap, who won’t stop talking to the kid while he works on my car.

He continued to work, occasionally nodding his head to let her know she wasn’t being ignored. But I could hear her inane ramblings through the open door, “Hey I drove the car just like you said for 15 minutes and it only made that noise when I pushed the brakes and I don’t think it’s serious because the brakes stopped the car alright. Hey did you know I started Weight Watchers again? This time I already lost 7 pounds and I’m on my way to being my skinny self again. Hey is that a classic mustang in that calendar? I just love mustangs.”

I’m getting more and more agitated as I watch. Is she not getting the hint that he has work to do? And more importantly, is he going to get my car done with all that yakking in his ear? Geez, some people are so inconsiderate!

When the kid finished he came into the little side room to ring me up. I couldn’t help but say something, “Hey… she’s a real talker, huh?”

I fully expected him to join in with my sarcasm about Chatty Cathy outside, but he surprised me with a smile, “Yeah, she’s a regular customer. She helps out senior citizens in Tracy who have a hard time getting their smog check and registration done on their cars. I don’t mind her at all.”

As my face dropped from agitation into embarrassment, Chatty Cathy came in through the glass door. I felt really guilty for thinking bad thoughts about this angel who was working hard to help out her neighbors. She looked right at me with her bright blue eyes and said, “Well hello there! Are you happy?”

She caught me off guard. I replied, “You mean happy in my life in general, or happy that my car just passed the smog check?”

She smiled. “God wants us to be glad in all things, even smog checks.”

I signed my credit card slip, shook her hand and thanked her for brightening my day. I haven’t been SO wrong about someone in quite a while… I had judged that book without even picking it up off the shelf.

Let’s all slow down a bit.

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12 Comments on “So wrong”


  1. Chatty Cathy schooled you! 🙂 Keep in mind – she is doing God’s work. And she’s doing her mission and purpose in life and is being the messenger in doing what she does. Not only is she doing it by helping senior citizens and is paying forward the idea of doing something meaningful… but she also is showing up every day in life as herself. What she’s externally teaching is non-judgment and acceptance. She makes no apologies for who she is…. and I applaud that big time. She reached out to you and made the effort to talk with you… and add sunshine to your day. She is being expressive, happy, living life as herself. Her talking didn’t affect the work that the smog check kid was doing. And he showed you how he accepts and respects her as she is. For people who have lost faith in the youth and next generation – I am thrilled that these two have shown by their example that they are living life the way it is meant to be lived.

    Pay attention. Signs like this are around you 24/7… they are around all of us if we pay attention and notice.

    It’s all about being open and respecting these gifts daily and expressing gratitude and appreciation for the good things in life which surround us.

    • davidgoad Says:

      Thanks Stacey 🙂 By the way you are my number one commenter, and I want you to know I appreciate what you have added to this blog!

  2. Terry Donaldson Says:

    Both of your comments, David and Staccey, are spot on! Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Claire Strayer Says:

    Wow. I’m humbled. And kind of speechless. Thanks for the life lesson.

  4. undebateable Says:

    I’ll admit that I’ve had a few cases where I, too, have judged too soon. Thanks for the very important reminder, David, to look at situations and people in a different light – in a positive light.

  5. jsysmans Says:

    David, don’t we all… At least you have the balls to tell the whole wide world about your schooling. Heck you should have thanked her for the amazing work she does, not just for brightening your day. But who am I to try to school you. I think Chatty Cathy taught most of us a valuable lesson today.

  6. Ron Roberts Says:

    David, the great thing about your stories is that they are all real. We have all been in this situation at least once and each time it is extremely humbling. I know someone just like the Chatty Patty, and she is one of the more beautiful souls I have ever known. Thanks again for another great story my friend.

  7. Pete Says:

    Nice one 00Dave. I was at that exact same smog place yesterday getting my truck smog tested. If we were there at the same time I know I would have joined in in the sarcastic banter. So me learning this lesson is a bonus. Thanks for Home-Schooling me!

  8. Jim Says:

    Knowing your kindness toward others, you were really mad at the system and vented your frustration at someone who could n`t hear you.You found out that we all have different levels of tolerance for our fellow man, and maybe we are not as important as we think we are. As i belong to the senior division, that lady is one of the unsung heros

  9. cheri villarreal Says:

    We are human…and act on human nature.

  10. Peggy Apter Says:

    David I wish I had time to read all your posts but I am glad I took the time to read this one, it made me cry!

  11. Paula Howley Says:

    As someone who would have relished the sarcasm too, I appreciate your humility in telling this story! I’m getting schooled too.


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