Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Be Really Good At Being Really Bad

"If you can't be good at something, Christina, you should be really good at being bad at it."

I took my mother's advice to heart.

One time, I knew my tires were low and was hoping to get someone to put air in them for me. So I drove to an auto supply store, and in a wide-eyed, damsel-in-distress fashion, asked where the tire gauges would be and what they looked like.

The guy behind the counter could see he was going to have to be a hero, so he guided me to the tire gauges, explained why I didn't need the most expensive one they carried, and showed me how it worked. After I paid for it, he then demonstrated -- on each of my four tires -- how to test the air pressure.

"So," I asked cautiously, "How does one get air in the tires once you know they're low?"

My new friend explained that he couldn't leave the shop to fill my tires at the gas station across the street, but gave detailed instructions. He hesitated, then asked how far I planned to drive that day.


"Because you have a bald tire. And I mean, it's really bad. I'd be worried that it might blow if you get on the freeway."

Oh, dear. That was a slight problem. It got dealt with, but here are the truths I think this story demonstrates:

If you don't know something, ask. I really didn't know where the tire gauges were, and I didn't know how to use them.

Make it clear that you know someone is doing you a good turn. It made that guy's afternoon that he got to save the day for pretty little me. And I batted my eyes, hung on his every word, and thanked him for his help to let him know his expertise and assistance were appreciated.

Sometimes, you get more than you expected... and that's a good thing. People like to help when help is appreciated. Not only did this guy make sure I bought the most reasonably priced tire gauge, make sure I understood how it worked, and then check all my tires, but he threw in an extra bonus when he told me I was gambling with my life every time I zoomed up to 70 on the interstate.

We both benefited and felt happy about our interaction. All because I was really good at being really bad at something.


Hannah Miet said...

This is all great advice.

I noticed the appeal of Good at Being Bad when I was tutoring writing. The students who came in claiming to barely know how to structure an essay (even if they kind of, sort of, did) ended up benefiting and learning the most.

TallGuySurfing said...

Haha.... great outlook! :-)

Monique-aka-Surferwife23 said...

Back in high school I was in my boyfriend's car when I noticed he had a pipe just chillin on the dash. I yelled at him as he calmly explained it was a tire gauge. Oops.

Sara said...


I used to resent being talked down to at AutoZone, but now I go in there and I'm really sweet and pleasant and I sort of enjoy making some guy's day by not knowing a damn thing.

Because I don't.

Anonymous said...

was he cute? did you get his number?!