2013-01-23 / Community View

We all make mistakes

That’s what She Said
By Carolyn LeDuc-Krehel

If you are reading this newspaper, I already know several things about you: you’re a human being and you’re literate. I also know that you’ve made mistakes, since we humans make mistakes. We screw up, we learn from it, we move on down life’s path a bit wiser.

My life is just a series of mistakes strung haphazardly together. I don’t mind it, actually. My bad ideas have molded me into who I am today. They’re all mine, those mistakes. I chose them, or fell into them, and walked away (or army-crawled, a few times) enriched.

Back when I was a student at Oakland University, I let curiosity guide my ’82 Camaro down a dirt road on the east side of campus. The road climbed and then dipped down a steep hill. There was an open gate at the bottom and I cruised through. I came upon what appeared to be a castle: Meadow Brook Hall.

I wanted to share my discovery, so two days later, I took my friend for a drive to show her the beautiful home. I maneuvered the hill again and down we went to find the gate locked. Linda would not be seeing the great mansion that night.

Let me set the scene: it was cold, like “negative 40 degrees windchill factor, bring in your outdoor pets, stay home if you can” cold. It was snowing and icy. We were dressed like teenage girls, because we were teenage girls. This was about 1983, which meant we had no cell phones. We could’ve walked back to campus and called my dad, but I didn’t want my parents to know their daughter was stupid enough to drive down a steep, icy hill for no good reason. I also may have been skipping class, and I didn’t want them to know that, either.

Well, we transformed from regular girls into superheroes that night. We pushed the car, rocking it between drive and reverse. We used car floor mats and dry weeds to create traction under the tires. We dug snow with our hands and a windshield scraper. We worked for two hours, inching that car up the steep hill in the cold. When it was over, we thawed out and discussed my bad idea over a hot chocolate at McDonald’s

All these years later, the skills I learned that night are still with me. When people get stuck on ice and snow and are ready to call a tow truck, I swagger up to the scene, laugh and say, “Oh yeah. I’ve got this. This is NOTHING.” That mistake and lesson learned have given me not only a good story, but the know-how to get many stuck cars out of snow banks.

In the grand scheme of life, this was a small mistake. I’ve made bigger ones, trust me; some I wouldn’t want to share with you. I told this story so you’d think about your own mistakes. Have you ever locked your keys in the car? (I locked Austin in the running car when he was a baby. Yet another mistake. I told you, I’m the queen of these things.) Ever run a red light? Exceeded the speed limit? Left pills lying around? Forgotten to extinguish a candle? Driven drunk? Had unprotected sex? Had an affair? Stolen something? Spread rumors you didn’t know to be true? Cheated on a test? Driven down an icy hill in a Camaro? Left a gun somewhere other than a locked cabinet? Obviously, these vary widely in importance.

Did your mistake result in disaster? Did everybody find out about it, or is it a secret? More importantly, did you use it to make a positive change? After locking Austin in the car, never again have I shut the door without first checking for my keys. I’m certain that the Chatfield security guard, after last week’s oversight, won’t forget his gun in a bathroom again. A lesson learned the hard way, complete with media coverage.

Before we ridicule others’ mistakes, let’s have a look at our own. Would you like yours publicly shared and judged? Let’s sigh with relief and move on. Remember, “to err is human; to forgive, divine (Alexander Pope).”

That’s what SHE said.

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