This morning I found a hand written note under the wiper on the windscreen of my car. It read:
“Hi, My name is A. in Apartment 111. I have accidentally left a white paint mark on your rear left door while opening my door. I apologise for this.
Please let me know if there is anything I can do.
Hopefully it can be buffed out. “
Actually, I was hosing down my car at the time and didn’t notice the small piece of note paper until it was soggy and torn through the middle…the blurred ink resulting in a meshing of words that represented an almost indiscernible blue blob.
When I eventually made sense of it, A’s confession did take me by surprise. Firstly because I hadn’t noticed the white spot of paint the size of a felt tip pen nib somewhere in the middle of the rear left door; but more notably, it was the honesty displayed by A in owning up to the incident that held my attention. With a little pang of guilt I must still have buried somewhere in my cellular memory (I think I felt it near my left kidney), it got me thinking of the many little misdemeanours, the “white spots” I have committed over the years that I have not owned up to. These include: receiving $2.50 more than I should have in a handful of change that time at Woolies, not registering my dogs during 2007, and telling the DVD store it wasn’t me who hired Bride Wars in an attempt to get out of paying the fine.
Ok, well I’m no large scale criminal but the temptation not to “fess up” when things happen that we’re not super proud of is an interesting trait of the human condition. The temptation to cheat, to tell a white lie or not disclose culpability can invoke a little thrill, if only momentarily. Perhaps it’s a reaction to the rigidity of the social controls to which we are conditioned that create the wish to cheat a little, to break rules just a little, to not “fess up” if after checking that no-one’s looking we realise we can get away with leaving a “white spot” on our neighbour’s car.
Anyway, I think I can forgive myself considering that despite being raised a “good girl” indoctrinated by a conservative Catholic, patriarchal upbringing, I have resisted the urge to turn to a life of delinquency and commit even more outrageously deviant acts.
And I’m grateful for the integrity displayed by A in Apartment.111. I think I’ll leave him a note too, perhaps saying,
“Hi, It’s C in Apartment 405. The sum of the numerous self-inflicted scratches and dents far out-number your single little white one…so don’t worry about it ! ,
But thanks anyway,