Thursday, 27 February 2020
The Restless Native The Restless Native

Everyday Trials and Tribulations

By  Oct 20, 2016

One of my friends got his car badly scratched on the parking lot the other day by an unknown driver who didn't bother to leave a note or his contact. He told me about this over coffee and was understandably angry about it. I tried to calm him down, but agreed this was a pretty lousy move by the other driver. “I hate people like that.” – we both agreed. It was not until later, when I was driving back home that I remembered I actually did something similar myself once.

It was back in the summer of 2011, one of the worst years of my life. Without getting into too much detail, many things went wrong that year and I found myself in financial problems, dealing with family issues, working a job I didn't particularly enjoy, and being generally very unsure about what the future holds. During one of the most hectic days of that summer, I was rushing to a meeting and tried to park my car on one of the improvised, unpaved parking areas around my workplace. The car in front of me seemed a bit too close, but I tried to do it anyway and ended up scratching the guy's bumper. I was forced to find another spot and parked the car. At first I thought about leaving a note with my phone number, but thought I'd best get to that meeting first as I was already late. The meeting lasted a while and was going to turn into a business dinner. It was possible for me to go out for a minute and leave the note at any time, but as time passed, I started thinking I might as well try to get away with it. After all, so many things didn't go well for me that year, maybe this was a chance to take something back from the Universe. Well, as you may imagine, it didn't quite pan out. It turns out, a passer-by saw the whole thing, wrote down my license plate and put his own note on the windshield of the car I damaged. So, I got a call during my business dinner from the owner of the car and had to deal with it right then and there which was quite embarrassing. Eventually, it all turned out fine and in the end I was able to sort it out with the car owner.

In a country which has a number of its leading politicians on trial for various acts of corruption, this might not be a very exciting crime story, but the point of it is not to illustrate how poor of a criminal I am. The point is that I truly do hate people who mess with other people's property and try to get away with it, and there I was, doing the exact thing I hate in others. My excuse was that I was struggling myself that summer and badly wanted to put a stop to a series of unfortunate events. However, isn't that the whole point of trials to our decency and morality? They always come when we are unprepared and weak. The vast majority of us know well what is right and what is wrong to do in a certain situation, yet sometimes we fail to do the right thing. Instead, we get to make up some sort of an excuse. When it comes to big issues in society, we tend to blame the larger forces and claim we are too small to make a difference. When we do the wrong thing in order to profit, we say that someone else would have done it if we didn't (this one is popular in Croatia for the past couple of decades). When we hurt the ones we love, we blame it on the circumstances or a momentary lapse in judgement, and when we scratch someone's car on the parking lot, we say it was an accident and we have filled up our quota of bad luck in a year.

It doesn't work like that, unfortunately. Decency is not very flexible and we don't get to have a free pass for doing something wrong or not doing what is right because we've had a rough day. It definitely isn't easy, but I've found that most of the time when I did the right thing to my own immediate harm, I would end up feeling good about myself. There is a sense of wellbeing when you take the moral high ground and no one can deny this. Who knows, maybe someday it comes back to you in some way. At least I know people are not talking trash about me over coffee… I hope.

Bozidar Jukic, AKA The Restless Native, is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page.

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