My car broke down Friday night as I was trying to leave work for the weekend. The parents that I nanny for had three different parties to go to that night, the grandparents were there to watch the kids, and the kids were running around the yard like animals. They live in a cul-de-sac so when the neighbors noticed that I was having car troubles, their families came outside too. Soon, there were 15 people standing around my car trying to get it to work.
The problem? It wouldn’t start. It wouldn’t even try to start, nothing was working. At first, they tried to jump start my car – nothing. Then they left it hooked up to another car for almost an hour hoping that it would charge the battery – still nothing. Soon everyone was standing around, holding glasses of wine, and laughing about the workweeks they’d all just finished.
I, on the other hand, was sitting in my car, mortified that I’d successfully ruined three different families nights all because I was having car issues again. (You see, this isn’t my first rodeo when it comes to a broken down car. I’m kind of a black cloud when it comes to cars; I’ve been stranded by them one too many times. Or maybe three too many times, who knows?)
They all kept apologizing that my Friday night was ruined (little did they know, the only date I had planned was one with my Netflix account). Then I would apologize because I was the one who was ruining THEIR evenings.
The parents who I nanny for (let’s call them Jack and Jill) are incredibly nice (like way too nice). Jill ordered me dinner and told me to go inside and hang out with the grandparents and kids while Jack called AAA and waited for them to arrive. They wound up being able to go to one of the parties they had committed to since AAA took a couple hours to get there, but then they came right back to help me with my incessantly difficult car.
When the AAA guy got there, he tested my battery and ran a bunch of other diagnostics to make sure the battery was the problem. The battery that I had in my car was supposed to have 800 cranking amps (or something like that) brand new. The AAA guy said that if it had been a little worn out and needed to be replaced, it should have around 600 cranking amps. Mine? Yeah, my battery had 7 cranking amps. SEVEN. Do you realize how dead of a battery that is?! (Mentally adding this to “Things That Would Only Happen to Kaelly Welsh.”)
Then Jack asked the AAA guy to replace the battery for me. He said that he would. Then I internally panicked a little bit. I’d only gotten my first paycheck from this new job that very day, and I had no intentions of buying a new battery that day. It was going to be fine though. I had enough money to pay for the battery, I was just going to have to skimp on food for the next two weeks – no biggie.
Then Jack said, “Kaelly, I’ll take care of this. Don’t worry about it.”
UM, EXCUSE ME, WHAT?!
I argued, “No, no, no, that’s not okay. I can pay to replace my own battery!”
“No, I insist. We’ve been wanting to do something nice for you to show our appreciation, and this is perfect.”
“Jack, if you want to do something nice for me, fill my car with gas. Don’t buy me a new battery!!!”
“Kaelly, I’m happy to do it.”
Then I had to hold back the tears for what felt like forever while this AAA man put a brand new, better-than-I-previously-had-and-also-free battery in my car.
That might be the nicest thing that anyone has ever done for me (maybe not, I’ve had a lot of people do a lot of really nice things for me, but I’d have to make a definitive ranking list to know for sure). Jack and Jill are some of the nicest people I know, and I’d only been working for them for two weeks before they took it upon themselves to put a brand new battery in my car.
It was amazing, honestly. I left their house with a perfectly running car, and a new appreciation for how big of an impact some people can make on your life.
Sometimes, I get really caught up that I’m maybe not smart enough, or funny enough, or pretty enough, or skinny enough. I get stuck in those thoughts like that’s the only thing in life that matters – just like every other girl in the world. I worry that I’ll never get married because I like to bake cookies, and I’ve always had a bit of a tummy. Or I worry that I’ll never make very much money because I care a lot more about being happy than I ever have about school or careers.
But Friday night showed me that I don’t need to be the smartest or the funniest or the prettiest or the skinniest. I don’t need those things to be happy. I just want to spend the rest of my life trying to make everyone else feel as happy and as loved as I did that night. If someday, I can make that kind of impact on just one person, I’ll have succeeded.
I need to keep reminding myself that I don’t need to be the best at everything (or really at anything) to cultivate a meaningful life.
Y’all, life is good. Jack and Jill are great. And Jesus is faithful.