Last week I was rear-ended. As I posted then, I let the police officer take down the other driver’s info, which he said would be passed on to me in a report, and gave me the report number. I could have taken the driver’s info down myself, but I trusted that this process would work. I had expectations of someone other than myself. Naturally I was disappointed.
The report didn’t have the insurance information. It turns out the other driver didn’t have his current insurance on him (and I suspect he may not have been insured…). I have no way to contact the other driver now. Supposedly his name/address/phone is in that report, but I can’t see it online or have any information relayed to me by phone. My insurance company is not able to access this report easily either, they have to make a written request and turn-around time can be over a month. I can make a written request for that same information (and I will), but again the turn-around time is lengthy and there is a fee as well. All this could have been avoided if I simply remembered to never expect more than nothing from anyone else.
At a recent party my SO had trusted a friend to bring a few things. I don’t recall what exactly – paper plates maybe? They ended up not coming, and so the item was missing. I told her this was why I never bother asking others to bring things and just personally provide everything that I want to be at any party I host. She complained that all she’d expected from someone else was, really, anything more than nothing. And I replied that this was expecting too much. Expecting more than nothing from someone other than yourself is always expecting too much. I often get more than nothing, and I’m always pleasantly surprised when it happens. But I never expect it anymore.
This mirrors an old quote (which I was originally told was Benjamin Franklin’s, but a googling shows that there’s many permutations of this saying that go back to the beginning of history) – “Expect the worst but hope for the best. You’ll never be disappointed and often pleasantly surprised.” I can’t seem to apply this to my life on a grand scale – I’m still very much an optimist about humanity as a whole. I think we’re getting stronger, better, smarter. Our problems are grand, but our potential is grander. Things are getting better all the time, even if it’s slow.
However I have almost completely internalized this on the micro scale. Individual people often suck. In the words of Charles Schulz (who was likely paraphrasing Edna St. Vincent Millay) – “I love mankind… it’s people I can’t stand.”
Expect nothing from people and your life will go much smoother.