Open mind, closed mind

So recently I bought a car.  I drove a rental car to pick it up.  The woman behind the counter was irritated, stressed, and bound by what the computer told her was possible.  This really impacted me in ways I was not aware of at the time, and it has made me think about the dangers of a closed mind.  Here’s what happened.

 I was doing a one-way rental, and wanted to drop off at a certain location that the computer would not let her do.  So, according to her, I had to call the 800 “one way rental number” to have them figure it out.  Long story short, they couldn’t make the reservation either, so after 20 minutes of all of this, I called the office where I wanted to drop off the car. The guy said, “Sure, no problem!”  

When I was signing the papers for the rental, the woman was insistent that I return the car with a full tank of gas.  I was driving 90 miles, so I knew it would just be a few gallons.  “But you must return it full,” She said.  She didn’t mention that I had the option to return it not full, and pay the rental company’s fee per gallon (which in this case would have been under $10).  I knew about this option during previous rentals, but I forgot about it now.  By the time I left with the rental car, an hour later than I had anticipated, I was feeling pretty stressed myself.  Not overtly stressed, but a vague tension throughout my body.  This kind of stress – the kind that makes our body, mind, and heart feel “tight” – is a subtle danger to our daily life.

When we interact with others who are “tight” – and I would say that this woman, God bless her, was tight that morning – it can make us feel tight, too, and really mess around with our mood and even our capacity to think clearly.  It took a lot of mental and emotional effort to stay calm in the midst of her tight energy, and to figure out how to drop off the car at the location I needed.  She did not help with this process, even though it turned out to be very simple: just call the location I wanted to go to.  Then, when she was talking about the gas, her insistence on it being her way, “You must return it full,” closed off the option -- which would have been better for me on that particular day -- to return it not full.  Unfortunately, by that point I was feeling pretty stressed myself, and did not have total access to my creative thinking, which would have helped me remember that indeed there WAS another option besides “you must return it full.”

I don’t mean to blame this woman, who was clearly having a bad day before I even walked into her life.  However, her closed mind made it a lot harder for me to maintain an open mind.  I was able to do so for one issue, the drop off location, but not for the second issue of the gas.  And, the subtle tension that ended up closing my mind to a creative solution was not healthy for me.  It would have been better for me to sit for a couple minutes in the rental car, take some breaths, and scan my body for tension.  I needed that, but unfortunately I let the stress of the situation (and the added time stress, since I was not an hour late) impact me.  Unless we really check in with ourselves and give ourselves a chance to release that subtle tense energy, we cannot respond to life’s challenges with our best selves.  

I am going to start a practice of intentionally releasing “close-minded energy” whenever I encounter it, either in another person or in myself.  Taking just one minute to close my eyes, take a few deep breaths, and let go of the tightness that goes along with that closed energy.  I will be the better for it.  I invite you to try it, too.