Yes, Café Hope is back. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? It feels good to be back after my protracted absence. Ok, so this is what happened….

I’d been looking to move to a more energetic and vibrant city primarily to change my fortune and rub shoulders with the powers that be. So in my ultimate quest for advancement on all frontiers, I put my faith on the line, applied to several attractive job opportunities and crossed my fingers in patience (well, I had to resort to patience when anxiety failed to yield results). After what seemed like forever, I got a spanking new job in that new city and it happened so fast. I had to prioritize my commitments and since the blog is a hobby, it went on the back burner. Glad I did, because even the most seasoned clairvoyant could not have foreseen the chaos that would ensue once I began packing up my stuff to move.

My transition to my new life now included the following in no particular order:

  • Unpacking boxes—loads of it and still finding more stuff to donate to charity.
  • Selectively and cautiously making new friends (people with e-mail addresses at aol.com or att.net just give me the hibby jibbies, like, why are you still stuck in the past decade. Does aol even still exist? And att? Really???)
  • Becoming proficient on my new job while concentrating on not getting fired during my probation period. Being the newbie at work can be so tasking…learning people’s names one day, forgetting it the very next day. Plus, new colleagues watching my every move, and yes, counting my shoes. Good stuff, good stuff.
  • Moving furniture around a zillion times to feng shui my new home. Although pinterest has really been helpful here, I am still working on spatial aesthetics.
  • Planning and starting a new business. Need I say more?
  • Studying for an exam. Gotta get that PhD someday so that when addressing an audience I can get a ratio of 2:1 for people who actually listen vs. those who pretend to listen.
  • Committing, really committing, to cooking delectable meals that are actually edible and pleasing to the eye. If the solids can stay with the liquids and not separate into a funky mess, I’ll be alright.
  • Pursuing my interests and of course, hanging out at the library on Saturdays…that hasn’t changed.
  • Engaging in deep introspection about the meaning of life.
  • Bla bla bla.

Yea…I’m quite busy, I know. But I’m not here to tell you about how full my hands are. I want to share with you a recent shift in my thoughts regarding asking for help. I’m one of those people who think they are superhuman—I can do anything and everything, with or without your help. But something peculiar has happened since I moved: I’m finding that I need help with one thing or the other than ever before. Being the Queen of Improv, this has challenged my superhuman capabilities.

The encounter that precipitated the shift in my perception was this: I had been shopping around for a new insurance for my baby (my car) and I thought I’d found one until I saw one offensive quote for my monthly premium. It was incredulous that despite many discounts and my excellent driving record (bar the occasional road rage), the premium was a mess—do they think I pluck dollar bills off the tree in my virtual backyard?

Anyway, I tried to read the provisions and couldn’t make sense of it. “How did you manage your insurance situation in the past?” you ask. My response: I didn’t. I just doled out money with the least bit of concern for the fine print. But now, things have changed—I’m trying to save money for my wedding…I haven’t decided on a date yet…ok, there’s no guy in the picture. Lol. ¿Qué pasó? Can’t a girl plan? One of my dear friends would say, “There’s no man on ground but ain’t nothing wrong with planning.” I agree.

So, I sat on this policy for several days hoping a light bulb would turn on in my head each time I read it but that didn’t happen. When I admitted to myself that I needed help to complete this task, I cringed on the inside and died a little. I vehemently resisted the idea. I am a smart, educated woman. This is written in English—someday it will all make sense, I’ll just keep reading. Nope. Still didn’t get it. Exasperated, time running out, I decided to ask a colleague for help. Gasp!

“Hey Sam*,” I said with the biggest friendly smile I could muster. *Not actual name.

“Hey you,” looking bewildered at my presence in his cubicle.

“I just got a quote from a prospective car insurer and I have no idea if this is a good deal. Could you read this and let me know if this is a comprehensive insurance?”

It took him all of two minutes. Two freaking minutes!! Turns out it wasn’t a good deal and I could do better. Guys, I got Sally (my car) a new insurance that day and all I had to do was ask for help.

Still kicking myself for asking for help for something I would have eventually figured out if I had time on my side, I was met with a similar episode at home that same day.

I had to do a quick Walmart run. Not so fast…Sally had a flat tire. Really, Sally? Call AAA, you say. Well, there was a time constraint and I wasn’t going to sit and wait for AAA. I almost freaked out when I realized I was going to ask someone for help again. Twice in a day? What is going on with the universe? I headed back to my apartment, confident I could conjure up a plan to fix my spare tire. I looked it up on You-tube and it seemed easy. Ha! That was not my reality. As I paced around my car and tried not to get distracted by the hottie cleaning the swimming pool, I recalled seeing a guy leave the apartment next door to me, many months ago. I’ll go over and see if he actually lives there.

Knock Knock.

No answer.

Knock Knock.

A young lady appeared at the door. Ummm…she is not the dude I am expecting to see. I looked at her like she was lost and somehow ended up in my apartment.

“Hi, I’m your neighbor next door. Where’s the guy that lives here?”

Oh God, I hope he actually lives here and was not in the middle of his walk of shame when I ran into him.

“*Nate,” She called. *Name has been changed.

Nate comes to the door.

“Hi Nate,” making a note to self to remember his name for future emergencies like these.

He said hi back and I dove right in.

“I have a flat tire. Do you know how to change one?”

“Yes.”

“Are you busy right now? I could really use your help.”

“Sure. Do you have a T-bar?”

“A…what?”

Poor guy rolled his eyes like, dang it! Another clueless girl.

“Ok, let’s just go,” he said.

I watched intently as he changed the tires—asking questions and all. Nice guy, that Nate. When I got behind the wheels, the voice of reason began conversing with me: “Asking for help isn’t so bad, is it?” It wasn’t. But next time, I was going to be the one to change my flat tire. And while I’m at it, I’ll get a dog and train it to interpret prolix insurance policies.

Next stop. Monday morning. I’m all dressed for work and I look fabulous as usual except for one thing. My long arms seem to have shrunk overnight and I’m unable to button my blouse at the back. Being one who’s usually put together, this was officially an emergency, as I could not dare venture into the office looking a semi-hot mess. I flee to the train station so I don’t miss my ride to work. Waiting on the platform, I continue to fiddle with the button and it just won’t budge. Now, the train is approaching, my button is still undone, and I’m getting desperate. In a moment of astounding bravery, I turn to the young lady next to me who like many women on that Monday morning probably spent quite sometime in front of the mirror—I had a feeling she’d empathize with my situation and dutifully carry out my bizarre request.

“Hi, could you help with my button?” and I immediately turned my back to her—I gave her no moment to decide whether or not she wanted to help.

She struggled with the button and let out something like it was kinda difficult for her. I almost turned around and said, “Lady, if you don’t slip that button into the button hole before that train gets here, I’m ripping your shirt off you and giving you mine.” But I didn’t say that. Instead I told her how I’d also been attacking the button too. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the current episode. I just asked a stranger to do my button. That’s it. I’m so getting a dog. Ok, the train’s pulled up and people are exiting the train. And then just like those soggy Hollywood rom-coms with a flair for making the impossible possible, she slipped my button in place just in time for both of us to hop on the train.

Throughout that day, I marinated on this seeking help thing—this new phenomenon in my life. I had a feeling the universe would keep presenting opportunities like these to me until I learned to accept that sometimes I will be humanly unable to manage a task and will have to reach out to friends and strangers alike. It feels good to get help but I just need to get over perceiving myself as superwoman and that even if I were, I’d still need to ASK for help to accomplish many tasks.

I recently stopped another stranger in the parking lot of AutoZone to help secure my new license plate into the newly purchased license plate holder. I had been fiddling with that thing for about half-an hour under the scorching hot sun with nothing but a screwdriver. He took pity on my helplessness, got tools from his car and got it done in no time. I gave him a mighty big hug afterwards. You should have seen his face like, “It’s just a license plate.” I looked at him like, “Believe me it’s not. This is huge for me.”

I realize this change of attitude to ask for help when needed rather than sit on stuff (for hours, days, and weeks) until I figure it out myself only buttresses my vision of self as a strong, intelligent and courageous person. I officially congratulate myself on successfully turning my world upside down a little—in a good way.