by Thomas Whitfield, M.A.
“Oh, no, we actually have a paid reservation to pick the car up at 10am,” the words slide from my mouth matter-of-factly. “Yes, I understand, but we don’t have any cars, it’s going to be at least a few hours.” The car rental employee looked at me blankly. “What do you mean a few hours? We have a wedding to go to. What are we supposed to do?”
With one of my good friends getting married a few hours north of Manhattan, the logical way to get there was to rent a car. Weeks ahead of time I reserved the car, hotel room, and planned our entire trip out so it would go as smoothly as possible. A 10am car rental pickup left plenty of time to drive upstate 2 hours, grab lunch, shower, throw on our suits, and make it to the venue by 5pm. We arrived to the car rental location, only to find out they didn’t have any cars available and we were twentieth on the waiting list, even though we had a paid reservation. My head spun while I thought to myself, “you’re supposed to have the car for us. You MUST have the car.” But, no amount of force from my demanding beliefs made a car magically appear. My face turned red, my heart raced, and I started to feel myself edge towards snapping. I started practicing a rational belief, “I’d prefer this company had a car for us, but that doesn’t mean they absolutely HAVE to and we will figure this out.” After repeating this to myself multiple times, my breath slowed and I found my phone in my hand, dialing other car rental places.
Luckily, I was able to find a place only 10 miles away that happened to have one car left and they would match what the competing company quoted us. They were going to close at 1pm, but being 11:30, that shouldn’t have been a problem. We jumped in an Uber and were on our way… Traffic… We hit traffic… My heart sped up, jaws clenched, and palms sweated as we sat on the expressway. “I have to make it to this wedding,” I kept telling myself. But rationally, did I? If we were not able to make it, would that make me a bad friend, a terrible person? “Just because I want to be at this wedding, it is not friendship ending if I can’t make it,” I repeated to myself. Although this helped, traffic did not move faster and the 10-mile ride ended up taking almost an hour and a half. We made it to the car rental location with 5 minutes to spare.
We didn’t have time to shower at the hotel or grab lunch before. I was still worked up from the trip there as I ironed my white button up. I had just finished the back, turned the shirt over, and was pressing the front when a puff of steam escaped the iron and a brown streak smeared down the front of my dress shirt. I started to panic, “Are you kidding me? Is this even real life right now?” I paused, closed my eyes, took a deep breath and thought, “I’d prefer today went perfectly, but there is no law saying it must.” I kept my eyes closed as I put the now streaked shirt on, buttoned it up, and put on my tie. We made it to the wedding, a few minutes before the ceremony began. It was beautiful and everything worked out fine. I’m a planner and it’s difficult for me when my schedule gets thrown off. This is something that I’m working on, being more flexible, but it will take time. So when you encounter similar situations, practice challenging your demands and replacing them with preferences – it takes a lot of work, but with patience and persistence it will be worth it in the long run!