I pull into a parking spot and before I cut-off the engine and walk into work, I look at the inside of my car, how it’s aged, and then outside again at the sleek new German sports car in the adjacent spot. I marvel at the new car; everything about it seems to sparkle and shimmer. I stare at the car and imagine engineers hunched over desks with detailed blueprints working to give the car both precision design and speed. I remind myself that I need to get into work and reach for my messenger bag from the back seat. I step out of my car and instantly wince at my “wreck-on-wheels.” My car is far from being a traveling wreck or old clunker, but nonetheless, I’ve started to call it one.
A little later in the day, I notice a new spot on the sleeve of my dress shirt. I wonder where it came from and how long it’s been there. I’ve been eyeing up some pricey new shirts online, and, maybe even a sports jacket or two, but I keep hitting a make-believe “pause” button.
Finally a little later, while cleaning up some things on my desk in my bedroom, I notice a bill that came earlier in the week for a recent visit my son had to make to the emergency room of the local hospital. My son was fine, but, when I sift through the charges, the dollar signs on the bill still catch me by surprise.
“I could’ve flown to London, Paris, Zurich, and maybe even made pit stop in Rome with how much they’re charging for a few small tests,” I complain to no one in particular.
A growing wish list
I’ve always found it a good rule to live below my means, but I’ve noticed lately that my wants, even some of the more nobler ones, seem to outnumber my resources. In particular, I was thinking about my growing wish list this past weekend and how I might cover a few of the expenses. I had sat down for only a few minutes when I looked up at the TV in my room and some of the early images from Hurricane Harvey had started to appear on the national news.
The Category 4 hurricane ripped up large swaths of Southeastern Texas and remains a threat as rain continues to pummel the area. In the blink of an eye, many residents lost homes and livelihoods. One news station reported that callers to 911 dispatchers told them stories of walls and buildings collapsing on friends and neighbors. And the water seems to keep on coming.
I turned on the TV to watch maybe a few minutes, but found myself transfixed. I could have spent hours glued to the coverage. By this point, the hurricane, the most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. in a decade, had been downgraded to a tropical storm, but it still packed a punch. The region looked like it had been through a war.
Later when I stopped flipping from channel to channel and turned off the TV, I looked outside at my car and reconsidered my options. I saw my reflection in the car’s paint job and thought how it didn’t look too bad. I considered too how the car has had it’s share of garage bills, but has served us well over the years.
In the end, I’ve decided to put off thoughts about buying a new car or even adding to my wardrobe. Instead, I prayed for the thousands of people without power and who’ve suffered devastating losses and decided to make a small contribution to the American Red Cross. I’m okay, my family is okay, others need it more.