I used to know this older woman who liked to say, “The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get.” I decided to stop hurrying in 2010 or so. I remember the moment. I was hurrying to a bus stop in the still-dark morning hours to go to my new job as a Starbucks barista. prior to getting this job, I had spent around three months unemployed, having quit my second nanny job (with infant twins) due to exhaustion and also because I had genuinely come to hate it. during my time being unemployed, I switched to collision-only car insurance. having no job, and little savings, I could no longer afford comprehensive. seeing how my car was already eleven years old, and had over 200,000 miles on it, it was a corner I was comfortable cutting.
it was during this collision-only era, shortly after I got hired at Starbucks, that my car was stolen from right in front of my friend Linda’s house in Ballard, where I had been living. the funny thing (if there is a funny thing) was that I didn’t even know it was missing until almost two days after it had been stolen. parking is an issue in Seattle, and if I wanted to drive myself to Seattle Center, (where my store was) I would have to find a free parking spot in Queen Anne and walk in. this means little to those of you who are unfamiliar with Seattle, but I’m sure you can get the sense that it was more work than I really wanted to deal with–drive extra early to work, park halfway up the hill, walk down to work, then walk back up the hill to get to my car after work, and then drive home. dumb.
so I decided to start taking the bus to and from work. I could listen to music and journal on the way to work, not have to worry about parking, and Starbucks was offering employees (known as “partners” in Starbuckslandia) a $30/month reimbursement/subsidy on bus passes if you brought in your receipt! since it cost $81/month for an unlimited bus pass at that time, it was a pretty good deal for me. they later decided on a less-generous (though more generous to the corporation) system in which the full cost of the bus pass would automatically come out of your paycheck, “pre-tax.” not the same thing as thirty bucks in my pocket, thanks. <digressing slightly>
so I had started riding the bus, and I was kind of into it. I know that sounds weird. I had actually been wanting to bus to work for a while, but I hadn’t yet had a job that didn’t require a personal vehicle until I got hired at Sbux. I think it appealed to me on an environmental level (fewer cars on the road), as well as saving on gas. I had just gotten my ORCA (One Regional Card for All) card/bus pass, and had gone to and from work by bus for two straight days when I discovered that my car was gone. it was very confusing. maybe you’re wondering how I could have gone two days without noticing that my car was gone–even if I was commuting by bus. but here’s the thing: in order to catch the bus, I would pass through Linda’s back yard, then through an alleyway, and onto the arterial where the stop was. my car was parked on the street in front of Linda’s house. so.
I came home from work that second day and decided I wanted to go get pho for dinner–by car. I grabbed my bag and headed out to my car…which was….um…? wait, did I forget that I drove my car to work one day and left it in Queen Anne? did I bus home instead of driving my car back? …but I thought I remembered parking it right in front here…? at which point I went back into the house and, in a daze said, “I can’t find my car.” Linda suggested I call the police to find out if it had turned up somewhere. sure enough, it had been stripped and abandoned somewhere in south Seattle the same night it was stolen. they gave me the number for the tow company that was holding it.
I could go into all the gory details, but I’ll just say that when I got there (Linda drove me), the front and trunk hoods were missing, the seats were gone, the stereo, of course, gone, steering column “punched,” and my CDs all over the floor, scratched up or stepped on. I could not have driven my car out of there if I had wanted to. someone had stolen my car, taken everything out of it–including the back seat, with cigarette burns in the upholstery, for fuck’s sake–and left it somewhere for someone else to deal with. shitty. and I did get to deal with it. I got to pay for the tow, plus the cost of the time it was impounded at the tow yard, plus I got to pay them to take it away to be destroyed. I mean, what could I do? it was my car. they were just doing their job. I couldn’t bill the car thief.
yeah, that is what we call getting “hosed.” all those years I paid for comprehensive car insurance? goodbye, money. maybe I’ll see you next lifetime. obviously, collision-only doesn’t cover theft. that shit’s gotta happen while you’re paying for the off-chance it will happen. awesome system. so that day changed my life. on the plus side, the car was getting to that point where I was beginning to wonder if I should keep getting work done on it, or just sell the damn thing. yeah, I would have preferred to sell it, I don’t need to tell you. but that’s not how it worked out. hopefully it was some kind of karmic debt I got off easy with. they say that if it can be replaced with money, it could’ve been worse. I suppose they’re right. I’ve now lived nearly eight years without owning a car. and frankly, I prolly wouldn’t’ve been able to afford car insurance on the pittance I was making when I first started at Starbucks, so maybe that thief did me a favor. thanks, buddy.
now about hurrying. it’s not like I don’t still hurry sometimes. I mean, I was a barista at Starbucks for nearly EIGHT years. I did a LOT of hurrying in that time. erryday, in fact. but in that moment, scurrying in the dark to the bus stop, full of anxiety, something in me decided, “this is bullshit” and threw in the towel. and for a while, I kept to that decision. I would arrive early to work every morning. I would wake up extra early so I didn’t have to hurry to get dressed, or hurry to catch the stupid bus, or hurry to have my breakfast or cup of tea. but then I started running into another problem–I thought I had so much time that I ended up squandering valuable time doing less valuable things…and then I’d end up needing to hurry.
I remember when I was unemployed all those years ago, and I had an appointment at DSHS to see if I qualified for food stamps (I did; it was a godsend), and I had literally nothing I had to do before or after that appointment. and I ended up getting there late. logic would tell me that since I had so little to do, I should have no problem getting to an appointment on time–I should be early, really. but I found that the lack of structure created this lack of urgency. and a dissociation from time, almost. I could no longer gauge how long it took to do something; I wasn’t doing enough somethings anymore.
one of the things I learned from bussing all over Seattle was that I could not expect to accomplish nearly as much in a day as I had been accustomed to. I had to adjust my expectations and prioritize. I had to s l o w the fuck d o w n. it was a little tough to adjust at first, but ultimately it was a good thing. I’ll write more at some point about the negative health effects I experienced as a result of hurrying and stressing, but I think this one is about done. thanks for reading/caring/slowing down enough to “hear” me.
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