The other day I was running late to an appointment. I arrived and parked my car in between two other cars. This in itself is an “exposure” for me because I often think that I will or did hit cars when I pull into parking spots. I fear that I have scratched or dented the cars on either side of me, etc. In the past I avoided parking between or next to other cars as much as possible to avoid having to worry about it.
The situation and the problem
So, I parked. I got my things together hurriedly and got out of the car. It was little tight, of course, and as I was getting out, I heard a strange noise. I looked down and saw my coat (a raincoat since it was a little blustery that day) and immediately my mind latched on to the thought that somehow my coat had whipped open as I hopped out of the car and dinged the little Mini Cooper next to me.
This is a typical obsession for me to have. I worry and have worried many a time about my clothes, bag, kids, etc. dinging or otherwise damaging other cars. I knew I had to try and fight it. Normally I would check the car. I might even write them a note or take a picture of their license plate so that I could attempt to track them down later and check to see if I had damaged the car. But instead, I went inside and checked into my appointment.
That wasn’t the end, though. I worried about that car during my appointment. I half hoped that the car would be gone when I went back outside so that I wouldn’t be able to look at it. But, the car was still there. I checked. Of course, there were multiple dings/scratches on the side of the car. Were they a result of some wind blown coat buttons? That’s what I didn’t know. And I couldn’t know it, unless I waited for the driver of the car to come so I could have a really awkward conversation with him or her.
So, I went. I decided to live with the uncertainty. I thought about the fact that maybe I was being a bad person (if I had hurt their car and didn’t offer to pay for damages). I thought about how most people wouldn’t have even noticed any of this in the first place. I wondered what that noise had been. Was it me? Was it just coincidence? I wondered if it was possible for my coat to blow out far enough to touch the car at all. I wondered if buttons could even cause damage to a car. I tested this out in the next parking lot by banging my coat buttons against my own car. This must have looked strange to anyone passing by. My car didn’t seem to sustain any damage, but did that mean other cars wouldn’t be scratched?
Worry, worry, worry. But why? Would could I do? I could’ve gone back to that parking lot and left a note (if the car was still there). I didn’t. I chose to move on with my life. But I still worried a great deal of the day about it, and eventually the discomfort faded as I found other things to do.
And sure, maybe I’m a bad person. Maybe. Or maybe I just wasted about half a day stressing over an obsession about something that didn’t even happen.