Several weeks back I went to the laudromat to get mega loads of laundry done in one fell swoop. And when I put my money into one of the washing machines, nothing happened. When I looked at the screen, it indicated that the washing machine was in the late stages of the spin cycle, so my $2.50 was lost. Dammit.
The managers of the laundromat are generally not on-site, but they have a list of numbers to call if they’re needed. So I called right then and there, and the co-owner took down my info and said she’d mail out a check. And she said she’d double it because of the inconvenience. That was nice, but not necessary, and I was very grateful. And I was also very grateful that I had extra money to put in the change machine so I could finish my laundry.
A few weeks later I noticed that her check had not arrived, so I called again, and she said she had sent it out, but wasn’t sure what happened. So she agreed to send another check out. I said okay and was again very appreciative. Weeks later, neither check 1 nor check 2 arrived.
Fast forward to today when I had another crap ton of laundry to do and so I head back to that same laundromat. And the other co-owner walks in to talk to a repair guy who’s fixing some of the dryers. When he walks in, I think, “What great luck! I can finally get this resolved.” But the old me kicks in. The small me. The voiceless, small, old me. And she’s gripped with, “Well, he’s in the middle of something. So maybe when he’s done I can have a word with him.”
So I’m just waiting for my three loads to finish washing and he’s wrapping it up with the repair person. He has to walk right by me, and so I realize, that’s my chance. And he walks by, and I say nothing. Zilch. Zip. Nada.
Ugh. I blew it. I was afraid to use my voice. I was afraid to inconvenience someone, even though I had been inconvenienced. I was afraid to get my needs met in the off chance that it would inconvenience someone else. And I was willing to sacrifice myself for it.
Well, normally, I would have beaten myself up and lamented about all the ways that I failed. But the inner dialogue is different now. I recognized that I missed a golden opportunity to step up. But I also managed to have compassion for myself and so I recognized that I needed to clean this up and use my voice. Essentially, I gave myself a second chance.
So when my loads were finished washing. I emptied the washers and loaded the dryers. Then I walked over to the sign with the phone numbers and dialed.
I explained that I should have [and I hate using that word should because it’s loaded with guilt] stopped the co-owner as he was leaving to talk about the non-refunded money. And I was honestly not as concerned about the $2.50 as I was two other things. 1) That it was the principle and I had to start using my voice. 2) She had sent two checks, neither of which made it to me or back to her. So I was concerned about where they were. I expressed point number 2 to her as well. And she agreed, I should have stopped the owner to get my money. But, she also agreed to come by and hand deliver the refund to me directly. And she was terribly nice to boot.
I felt vindicated, but terrible all the same. Had I just opened my mouth at the appropriate time, then she would not have to make another trip back. But I did not beat myself up about it. I simply recognized that I can do better and was proud of myself for course correcting without being too terribly hard on myself.
It feels empowering to be able to admit a mistake to yourself, as well as to another person without beating yourself up in the process. I am making progress. Slow, but steady.