A Lesson From My Cousin Vinny

Photo by Daniel/Unsplash

Just got a text from work saying they can use me earlier than I was scheduled, if I can make it in. Whenever I can get there is cool. I had offered, when I left yesterday, knowing this nor’easter was coming in. I live a relatively close three miles away and could snowshoe there if I had to.

I’ll have to shovel quite a bit, but I will go in early.

Good thing this didn’t happen yesterday AM. I went out to start my car at about 5:30 for my 6 to 2:30 shift. I had nice warm toast and hot coffee in a to go mug, turned the key and just heard click, click, click… Then nothing. I kept trying, of course, long past when I knew it wouldn’t start, just hoping the universe would intervene.

I texted work and said I’d be a few minutes late because my car wouldn’t start and I had to bring my wife’s car. I came back in and woke her up (after I’d already kissed her goodbye in the dark bedroom). I had parked behind her car, as I usually do, in our fairly narrow driveway.

We had to figure out a way to get my car enough out of the way so I could take hers. I was planning to just leave mine by the sidewalk so it could get towed or jumpstarted or whatever AAA needed to do. She got in the driver’s seat of my car, I started pushing, rocking a little, nudging it along and we got it out into the street. I had just enough room to back her car out but then we realized she couldn’t really steer because the car wasn’t on. All I could do was push it back in the driveway, which I couldn’t do by myself, because there’s just enough of a grade.

Just at that moment, our next-door neighbor came out, heading for work, and we asked him if he could just help give us a push. It only took his one little extra bit of muscle and weight and we rolled the car back in the driveway. I said thanks a lot, man, and then he left for work and so did I in my wife’s car.

The car was jumpstarted by AAA and she drove it to our local service station. It needed a new battery and cables and is now good to go this morning.

Photo Credit:James Lee/Unsplash

But it was interesting the way I felt in the moment when my neighbor came out. For a fleeting moment I thought “Shit, I couldn’t do this by myself” and it was hard to admit. I was grateful for help, out of nowhere, but it was one of those times when I just felt some conflict, wanting to have done it on my own, like a cowboy.

It is similar to the whole concept of grace, one definition for which is “unmerited favor.” He just happened to walk out at the right time and that was it.

At the end of My Cousin Vinny, Joe Pesci’s character says he had wanted to win his first case on his own. She (Marisa Tomei) says “You know, this could be a sign of things to come. You win all your cases, but with somebody else’s help, right? You win case after case, and then afterwards you have to go up to somebody and you have to say, thank you. Oh, my God, what a fuckin’ nightmare!”

We need each other so much and it’s so hard to admit.

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Craig "The GratiDude" Jones

Craig "The GratiDude" Jones

I am pursuing An Inquiry Into A Gratitude-Inspired Life