Disclaimer: This post will use the word ‘dumb’ a lot. If you don’t like the word, then I suggest you don’t read this post. :)
My list of dumb things I’ve done has been growing at a rate faster than I’d care to admit.
Being dumb is expensive.
I just hope the rest of 2013 isn’t as expensive as the first few months.
For all my comrades in dumbness, I dedicate this post to you so you’ll know that, as Michael Jackson would say, you are not alone.
Craig’s Dumb Decisions in the Last Two Months
1. Entering into Papua New Guinea on a Visa that would expire before my departure
Total Cost: Should be $1,500, but a church graciously agreed to cover that expense.
I’ve already written about how I was refused departure from PNG for what turned out to be six long days.
Aside from the emotional cost, I also had to pay for a week worth of meals (money I gave to my host family to help cover my expenses) and money to help cover transportation costs across town as I tried to resolve my departure issue. Finally, I had to buy all new plane tickets from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea to Denver, Colorado.
Fortunately, I’m blessed to have a very loving and caring church that helps oversee my work in Papua New Guinea. When I got home, they lovingly agreed to cover all my extra trip expenses.
2. Misspelling my name on a Permanent Resident Card application form
Total Cost: A possible $485 mistake, but it might be $0
The day I got back from Papua New Guinea, I received my new US Permanent Resident card. Unfortunately, my name was spelled “Crai” instead of “Craig”.
I called and was told that if I could prove it was their mistake they would fix it for free, and if it was my mistake, I’d need to pay the filing fee of $485 again. I cringed when I first paid the $485, and the idea of paying it again made me so frustrated at myself. I checked the original forms, and I had indeed neglected to type a “g” at the end of my name. However, when I was asked to review the documentation, I called to let them know my name was misspelled.
I wrote them a letter where I noted the reference number they gave me when I called to tell them the name was misspelled. I did recently receive a notice of action, and it has a total balance listed as $0.
I think I’ve convinced them that it was their fault (since I did notify them of the error), and there won’t be another $485 charge.
That would have been a costly “g” on my name. It might have just cost me less to legally change my name to “Crai”.
3. Sitting at the wrong gate at the DFW Airport
Total Cost: $0, thanks to an unexpected announcement
8 days after I got back from the PNG fiasco, I flew down to Fort Worth for a Transforming Your Financial Diet Workshop. I was supposed to be gone for one night.
That night my three year old prayed, “Dear God, help daddy to be gone for only one night like he said, not lots of extra nights like when he was in Papua New Guinea.”
Unfortunately, my flight Saturday night was cancelled due to weather, so I was rebooked early Sunday morning. Sunday morning at about 6:30 a.m. I sat by gate C37. After a few minutes of waiting, there as an announcement saying that anyone flying to Denver should come to C31. I checked my boarding pass, and sure enough, I was scheduled to leave from C31 – not C37. When I walked down to C31, the gate area was empty because everyone had already boarded the plane. I thanked the gate agent for doing an announcement (throughout the terminal). She said the only reason she did it was because they had already cancelled the next two flights to Denver and they thought there might be folks who had arrived earlier for later flights. I just barely made it on the flight, but had I missed it, I would have spent at least another eight hours in the DFW airport.
3. Lost a $100 gift card at Sam’s Club
Total Cost: $100
This weekend, we went to Sam’s Club, and I pulled a $100 Walmart gift card out of my safe. However, by the time I was done shopping, my $100 gift card was nowhere to be found.
When we got out of the van, my wife even offered to take the gift card. (She’s known to be a little more responsible than me.) I told her I could handle the responsibility of carrying a gift card in my pocket. Obviously, I can’t.
Life Lessons Learned
1. Dumb can’t be 100% avoided. I’d like to be able to claim perfection, but I can’t. I try to live with wisdom, but folly sometimes dictates my actions. We all make dumb mistakes. We need to be able to forgive ourselves – even when the situation was caused by such a small mistake (or big one).
2. Fix Dumb when possible, and move on whenever possible. When I lost the gift card, I retraced my steps back through the store. In the end, I didn’t find it. I had done whatever I could to remedy the problem, but didn’t. It’s time to move on. Many times when you make a dumb choice there won’t be an opportunity to go back and correct it. The focus needs to be on how you can fix it, resolve it, or avoid it going forward.
3. Marry someone who knows how dumb you are. My favorite phrase when I was stuck in PNG was, “You shouldn’t have entered on that Visa.” It drove me crazy because I KNEW THAT, but I wanted to know how to fix the mistake I made. Even though I’ve made all these dumb choices, my wife has not opted to rub it in or accuse me of any form of malice. She knows her husband can sometimes be dumb, so she’s been extremely supportive through everything.
4. Be patient with other peoples’ dumb mistakes. People around me also do dumb things. That’s part of being human. If people have to put up with my dumbness, then the least I can do is endure the dumbness that others display.
How do you respond to dumb mistakes? Have you made any lately? What life lessons did you learn?