All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go

August 8, 2012

Almost everyone, the world over, has had the experience of making plans to go somewhere, getting dressed up, and then having the plans fall through at the last minute.  Disappointment doesn’t begin to cover it.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a date with the love of your life or if it’s a celebratory occasion, or even if it’s just an evening out with friends, the disappointment can still be crushing.  You are mentally psyched up to having a good time and getting away from your problems or from the tedium that your life has become and you are looking forward to those few hours of entertainment.

When I was young, I remember just such an occasion.  My friends and I had planned to go somewhere and then our plans fell apart at the last minute.  I was all dressed up and I was looking forward to going out.  I don’t remember where we were supposed to be going, only that we were going somewhere that required us to get dressed up.

I remember being disappointed and being antsy, not wanting to stay home and not wanting to change into my “comfy” clothes so I started making phone calls to some of my other friends.

My mother sat there watching me and listening to my end of the conversation and after I had made three phone calls, she stopped me from making any other calls.  She said that if it wasn’t working out after three calls it wasn’t supposed to happen.

Those words have stayed with me my whole life.  I even took it a step further and I’ve made it a rule of thumb that if something wasn’t working out for me after giving it my very best effort, that maybe it wasn’t supposed to happen or maybe I wasn’t supposed to get it or maybe I wasn’t supposed to do it.

This philosophy has stood me in very good stead.  It has probably saved me thousands of dollars and terrible decisions.   But one thing is sure – it has made me step back and reevaluate the situation.

I remember many years ago, wanting to buy the house I was renting.  The bank was foreclosing on the property because my landlord owed them close to a million dollars and they weren’t feeling too generous about wanting to make it easy for his tenant.  I had gone to my bank to apply for a mortgage, filled out all the paperwork, and then the paperwork mysteriously disappeared and the woman who had taken my application went on vacation.

No one could find the paperwork so I was told to wait until she got back from vacation.  Meanwhile, the bank was putting a time limit on waiting for me to get a mortgage.  When the woman came back from vacation, she couldn’t find my application and I had to go through the whole process again.  And once again, the paperwork was lost.

The next time I called my bank, I was told the woman was no longer working there and I would have to make a new application for a mortgage as they couldn’t find the last one that I had filled out.

That was strike three.  Before I could even tell myself to give it up because I had given it my best effort and it wasn’t happening, my landlord’s bank pulled the plug and they gave me two weeks to move.  I couldn’t understand how I had visualized the mortgage being approved and my being able to remain there, and it still wasn’t happening, and I’m usually an excellent visualizer.  But the universe had a better grasp on the situation than I did.

After I moved, two things happened immediately.  The first one was that an announcement appeared in the newspaper that the city had approved a low-cost housing project across the road from me and the second thing was that the major road that was the only access to my house, was torn up and, for the next two years, no one could get in or out of the development without going the back roads.

The upshot is that the bank that was so anxious to get rid of me as a tenant and too impatient to wait until I could get a mortgage so I could buy the property, had to wait more than two years to find a buyer.  From time to time, I would drive by the house to see if there were any occupants but the house stood empty until well after the access road was repaired more than two years later.

I don’t know if the low-cost housing project lowered the value of the houses in the neighborhood, but if it did, I might not have been able to recoup my money if I wanted to sell my house.  And I might have wanted to sell my house if the torn up road prevented my clients from getting to me.

This three times philosophy of pulling back and reassessing a situation when things aren’t working out for me after I have tried my best three times, has stood me in good stead all of my adult life.  By my bank losing my application three times and my landlord’s bank not wanting to wait until I got a mortgage, I was saved from making a very costly mistake.  In fact, it’s a philosophy that has saved me from making many costly mistakes throughout my life.

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