My wife, Tere, and I purchased a new car in December. Even though we had tickets to fly from California to Houston to visit her family for Christmas, we decided to drive to Texas to break in the new car. We packed the car and took off for a wonderful week with Grandma.
We had a wonderful time and stay to the last possible minute visiting with Grandma. On the return trip we needed to get home in a hurry, so we drove straight through — one person driving while the other one slept. After driving in a hard rain for several hours, we arrived home late at night. We were tired and ready for a hot shower and a soft bed. I had the feeling that no matter how tired we were, we should unpack the car that night, but all Tere wanted was the hot shower and soft bed, so we decided to wait and unload the car in the morning.
At seven o’clock in the morning, we got up refreshed and ready to unpack the car. When we opened the front door, there was no car in the driveway! Tere and I looked at each other, looked back at the driveway, and looked at each other again. Then Tere asked this wonderful question, “Well, where did you park the car?”
Laughing, I answered, “Right in the driveway.” Now we knew where we had parked the car, but we still walked outside, hoping that maybe the car had miraculously backed out of the driveway and parked itself by the curb, but it hadn’t.
Stunned, we called the police and filed a report that activated our high-tech tracking system. To be on safe side, I also called the tracking system company. They assured me they had a 98 percent recovery rate within two hours. In two hours, I called again and asked, “Where’s my car?”
“We haven’t found it yet, Mr. Harris, but we have a 94 percent rate recovery within four hours.”
Two more hours passed. I called again and asked, “Where’s my car?”
Again they answered, “We haven’t found it yet, but we have a 90 percent recovery rate of finding it within eight hours.”
At that point, I told them. “Your percentage rate means nothing to me when I’m in the small percentage, so call me when you find it.”
Later that day, a commercial aired on telephone with the automaker asking, “Wouldn’t you like to have this car in your driveway?”
I responded, “Sure I would! I had one yesterday.”
As the day unfolded, Tere became increasingly upset as she remembered more and more of what had been in the car — our wedding album, irreplaceable family photos from past generations, clothes, all of our camera equipment, my wallet and our checkbooks, just to name a few. These were items of little importance to our survival, yet they seemed of major importance at that moment.
Anxious and frustrated, Tere asked me, “How can you joke about this when all of these things and our brand new car are missing?”
I looked at her and said, “Honey, we can have a stolen car and be all upset, or we can have a stolen car and be happy. Either way, we have a stolen car. I truly believe our attitudes and moods are choices and right now I choose to be happy.”
Five days later our car was returned without a trace of any of our belongings, and with over $3,000 worth of damage to the car. I took it to the dealer for repair and was happy to hear they would have it back to us within a week.
At the end of that week, I dropped off the rental and picked up our car. I was excited and relieved to have our own car back. Unfortunately, these feelings were short-lived. On the way home, I rear-ended another car right at out freeway exit ramp. It didn’t hurt that car I ran into, but it sure hurt ours—another $3,000 worth of damage and another insurance claim. I managed to drive the car into our driveway, but when I got out to survey the damage, the left front tire went flat.
As I was standing in the driveway looking at the car, kicking myself in tail for hitting the other car, Tere arrived home. She walked up to me, looked at the car, and then at me. Seeing I was beating myself up, she put her arm around me and said, “Honey, we can have a wrecked car and be all upset, or we can have a wrecked car and be happy. Either way, we have a wrecked car, so let’s choose to be happy.”
I surrendered with a hearty laugh and we went on to have a wonderful evening together.