A $700 Blog Post

I know that sometime in the future I will be able to look back on this moment and laugh. I’ll realize that $700 really wasn’t going to make that much of a difference for me in the long term. I’ll add it to a list of other dumb things in my life.

When I was 18 I was fortunate enough to have my parents buy me an almost new car. A Subaru Impreza that had been barely used. One night, about two months after buying the car, I was over at a friends house visiting with about 6 other people. I went to leave, and since I had a new car, everyone came out to check it out. I pulled out into the street and was slowly creeping away, but a couple people thought it would be funny to try and push my car backwards. I put it in neutral and let them push it ever so slowly backwards up the gentle slope of this suburban cul-de-sac. There were only two people pushing my car, so they were leaning into it pretty hard. I had the idea that if I put it in reverse I could hit the gas quickly, speed up and they would lose their balance and fall down on the street. What a great Idea.

The truck parked behind me had other plans.

I’ve never felt as dumb as I did at that moment. Looking out my driver side window and seeing nothing but red Ford F-350 only a foot and a half from my face.

When I was going through my teenage years I often longed to be able to go back in time. To do things over. To work harder, do better, and to change the things that were playing out in my life.

I have never wished for a time machine more than I did in those moments. Peeling my car off of that truck and looking at the whole side of my brand new car completely wrecked.

That night came to my mind almost immediately this afternoon after making another fiscally stupid decision. I forgot to pay my rent this month, and, as a result, have to pay $700 more for a lost promotion and a late fee.

In the lead up to finding out for sure about this bad fiscal news, I had been listening to an interview with James Altucher. He was going in depth about his story of blowing millions of dollars in the wake of selling his company during the early 2000’s tech boom. He went from millionaire to completely broke. He ran away and hid. Eventually he reinvented himself, made more money, lost it again, and made it back again. He continually reinvented himself. He made it through his lows and came out better on the other side. He seemed to be more resilient for having gone to those lows, experiencing first hand how things can all go away if you make bad decisions. He learned from his mistakes eventually.

I don’t think I learned much from being stupid and wrecking a new car. After the car was fixed and some time had passed I did some more things that aren’t in the drivers handbook. I didn’t take any hard lessons from it, but the experience is like an emotional landmark now. It makes it easier to accept that I forgot to pay rent.

In the moments after the crash. My brothers friend Keir, the person who initiated the car pushing, started laughing and said “think about how funny this is going to seem in a few years”. I wasn’t really in the mood to think about how I would feel in a few years. I didn’t talk to Keir for a while after that…

Keir was right in many ways though. Doing dumb things leaves you with interesting stories. The memory looking at the truck, feeling so stupid, and wanting to just disappear, that memory grounds me now.

I feel pretty dumb for forgetting to pay my rent. I wish I had. In the moments after finding out I started thinking about all the ways I could have used that money. How I could have bought Bitcoin, or paid for the mattress I bought earlier in the afternoon. How that is almost a thousand Canadian Dollars.

Having to pay $700 and get practically nothing for it is a bummer, but I know the feeling will fade, and that maybe even positives will come from it. The next time I make a mistake it will sting a little less. And hey, at least I got a blog post out of it.

UPDATE: After some negotiating with the leasing office of my apartment I was able to get the promotion back and only have to pay a $150 late fee.


Originally published at ryanaferguson.com on October 16, 2015.