Lesson #2: “You meet the nicest people on a Honda”

It should be noted that this lesson was originally posted 3 YEARS AGO, and about a month after the first lesson went online. Remember how I was supposed to do this once a week? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

I’d like to tell you I got my act together after THIS post and did it weekly…but I only made it through four lessons before I stopped publishing them online. I did keep writing, but I realized I had jumped in way over my head, and needed to invest in more planning before publishing.

Sometime early 2016:

Remember that time I said I was going to write a blog every week? Yeah, me too. Those were the good, old days of “Autumn Break”. It was a time when money showed up in my bank account without requiring me to show up to a job (a teacher perk). With ample time to fritter away, my inner I’m-on-vacation-author let her dreams roam free across the internet without thinking of future not-so-on-vacation-me. Ugh, the former Stacey can be so irritating to the latter. Picture, if you can, the two Staceys in a conversation with each other:

Vacation Stacey: “But we LOVE to write!”

Not-On-Vacation Stacey: “Yes, but we also love being employed. And we love sleep. Sooo, I’m not really sure when you think we have time for this nonsense.” 

Vacation Stacey: “We want to write and inspire the world with stories of adventure!!!!”

Not-On-Vacation Stacey: “The world already has Pixar for that; WE have a job.”

Part of my irritation with that carefree and idealistic version of myself is that every week I WANT to work on my blog, but I find it difficult to sit down with enough time to write something I believe is worth reading. Leave it to the universe to teach me a lesson:I wasn’t WRITING about my motorcycle, so it decided it wasn’t going to let me go on RIDING my motorcycle until I fixed things. [insert pause here to delight in pun momentarily]

Last Saturday marked a momentous occasion for me because I handed in the automatic Sym Attila scooter I had been renting these last few months of driving because I was finally ready to join the “Cub Club” and drive my Honda Cub. I was so proud of myself as I had been putting this transition off out of fear. Driving a Cub means you have to shift gears with your feet, which I can promise you is easier said than done when you’re in rush hour traffic here in District 1.

Monday morning arrived, and I had to leave for work. I was so excited to conquer this fear! I was exhilarated at the thought of doing something I never thought I would, or even could, do! I imagined how wonderful the wind would feel against my skin and the sights rushing by and how I was going to be super late if I did not stop daydreaming about how great it was going to be and just get on the stupid bike and GO.  

I was clearly stalling out of terror, but nevertheless, off I went, and it was glorious! For like, twelve minutes. Yeah, it was really good for probably about twelve minutes or so, and then I broke my bike trying to start it again after I stalled it out at a traffic light.

Go ahead. I’ll give you some time to enjoy your face palm moment (it’s only fair after that pun earlier…)

I had no choice but to just push her along the side of the road until I found a sửa xe, also known as a Vietnamese motorcycle whisperer (By one person. Me. I call them that. I’m waiting for it to catch on.) As I sat by the side of the road, I was understandably a little disappointed, but this was all part of owning an older bike.

It wasn’t until the gentleman arose from the pavement making the Vietnamese hand gesture for “no” that my heart plummeted in my chest. What? What do you mean you can’t fix it?  I have no contingency plan. You ARE the plan sir. I know less about how this bike works than Canada does about whatever it is that has happened to Robin Sparkles (watch ‘How I Met Your Mother if you don’t know who that is). Look, it’s like Lance Armstrong says, “failure is not an option” my good fellow, so let’s like, you know, keep trying here.

As my mind calculated how far I would have to push Alice (that’s my motorcycle’s name) to a mechanic with a more extensive set of parts and tools at his disposal, two gentlemen, who had arrived to our part of the sidewalk about ten minutes earlier, came over to me and sat down.

I exchanged small talk with one man in Vietnamese, who I assumed was simply waiting for a turn to have his bike fixed. It turned out he was the chairman for the entire massive construction site I was stranded beside. He then kindly informed me in English that he had paid the mechanic to push my bike to the nearest shop, given him money to have my bike fixed, and was giving me his driver to take me to the shop or to work, whichever I preferred, all free of charge.

I was stunned. I don’t mean “I won Bingo” surprised. I mean “stopped my heart, took away my breath, swept me off my feet” surprised. This man had no obligation to take care of me. He knew even less about me than I knew about my bike (which is even less than Canada knows about Robin Sparkles- well I mean, you remember, we’ve been over this part already).  

I am not a woman who is used to being a damsel in distress, and in the event that I am, I usually recue myself (mostly-ish). This was new, and humbling, territory. It was all I could do to try and say thank you as many times over as I possibly could before I was whisked away.

As I sat thinking about how wonderfully kind everyone had been, I still couldn’t help but feel sad that the occasion of switching to my new bike, which I had so looked forward to, seemed to have started off with shadow cast over it. I had come to think of this bike as a metaphor for my adventures in this new chapter of my life, and here it was turning out to be a complete disaster. I was feeling unhappy. It felt like only a few weeks ago I was seeing signs all over the place from the universe telling me I was on the right track, that my life was going to keep moving in the right direction, that I would keep healing from past hurt, but now, it had gone silent (yes, you Confirmation Bias theorists just let this one go okay?)

Until I realized it hadn’t- I had just stopped paying attention. Now that I wasn’t writing, the universe decided apparently it had a sense of humor. “You don’t want to do the work? You need a wake-up call? You got it toots. The bike isn’t broken because you’re not supposed to be here. The bike is broken you moron because it’s trying to tell you that you need to fix it. You need to be writing. You need to keep your promise, or you aren’t going to get what you want. Life isn’t going to just get better- you have to MAKE it better yourself.”

I hadn’t been writing because I kept coming up with reasons why I didn’t have enough time to write something I felt was worth reading, but then my best friend bestowed her mother’s words of wisdom on me as I told her about my week; “Everything worth doing is worth doing imperfectly.”

Did you catch that? I know it went by really quickly so we can just go ahead and have an instant replay: Everything worth doing is worth doing imperfectly.” 

It doesn’t matter if every post is worthy of an award. It doesn’t matter if there are errors. It doesn’t need to be my best work. It just has to get done. (Even this lesson years later- I cringe at the lack of flow and must restrain from editing because this is where I was and how I wrote it at the time) I have spent a lifetime making memories and learning lessons, and I barely have a record of them. I am in the most incredible place learning the most wondrous things about myself with the most amazing people, and I don’t want to find myself sitting by the fire one day wishing I had written this blog because I was afraid my stories weren’t perfect. I want to write something that will last longer than I will.

So, we arrive at Lesson #2: The original 1960s slogan for the Honda Cub motorcycle company used to be, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda,” and that is without a doubt true.  Yes, you DO meet the nicest people on a Honda, but even they can only get you halfway where you want to go. Almost every thing that I do, I do imperfectly: for work, for friendships, for myself. You have to make happiness, even imperfect happiness for yourself, and be grateful for those around you who helped you get there.

However, I will continue to do these lessons because they are worth doing, so I guess I had better get going before you and I run out of time.

4 thoughts on “Lesson #2: “You meet the nicest people on a Honda”

  1. Catherine Conner April 6, 2019 — 2:51 pm

    I love how you changed your outlook on this situation……turning it into a life lesson!!! ❤️❤️❤️


  2. What a great story and an amazing lesson. It was an awesome read this morning and a good reminder. Very few things in the world are perfect, they are simply done and they are amazing. The people who have created [insert literally anything that’s ever been created/planned] will forever have critiques about their work, but that work is outstanding and is perfect to others in the world.


  3. Wise lesson oh trusty owl. I cried at the man’s kindness. So pleased your souls met and continued your inspiration 😘


  4. This is amazing! I have just moved to Saigon to teach as an ESL teacher after living and teaching in another part of Viet. Would love to meet up for coffee sometime when you aren’t busy. Your writing is fab! So true and hilarious.


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