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Advice & More May 2018

Ejected from Comfort Zone and Into the Fray

By Sharon Love Cook

Today’s teens learn about the dangers of texting in drivers’ ed classes. Bobby said it's the middle-aged driver who’s guilty. These multi-tasking midlife motorists are not only texting while driving, they’re eating breakfast and applying make-up!

I recently read an article about the importance of  “stepping outside one’s comfort zone” by trying new things. The senior brain thrives on new experiences. It leads to the creation of neurons (commonly known as brain cells). This has a positive effect on cognition, from creative problem-solving to learning new skills. For instance, instead of knitting another scarf or baby booties, try a letter sweater — for your cat. Instead of ordering your standard cup of coffee, you might try a caffe mocha macchiato.

I confess to being resistant to new experiences. Nonetheless, I recently found myself ejected from my comfort zone and forced to deal with change. Last month, while stopped at a crosswalk, I was rear-ended by a Dodge Ram. Fortunately, I was not injured, although my Mini Cooper wagon was no match for the truck carrying a load of bricks and following too close while going too fast. My first thought was one of regret: Two days earlier I had paid an extra $4 at the car wash for an under-carriage rinse and wax.

At the crash scene, having given the police my information, I was allowed to drive the short distance home. Poor Monty (as I call my wagon) was in bad shape: Chunks of window glass and shards of tail light fell from the smashed-in rear doors. Inside, the dashboard lit up with symbols I’d never seen before. I really hoped the little guy could be saved.

For those who’ve been through the process, you know the drill: Call the insurance company, the body repair shop, the car rental agency. In one day I spoke to a dozen new people, some helpful, some not so much. The following day, a truck from the auto body garage arrived to take Monty away. Bobby the driver briefed me on rear-end crashes. Today it’s not the teenage drivers who are texting, he claimed; it’s adults. Today’s teens learn about the dangers of texting in drivers’ ed classes. Bobby said it's the middle-aged driver who’s guilty. These multi-tasking midlife motorists are not only texting while driving, they’re eating breakfast and applying make-up!

With Monty gone, I visited a local car rental. I told assistant manager Cecily what I didn’t want. I didn’t want all the electronic bells and whistles. I didn’t want a keyless vehicle whose sensors would sound an alarm if I got in without the appropriate gadget. I needed to keep it simple. “Something from the ‘50s,” I suggested. She led me outside. We stopped at an enormous white Jeep. “This is pretty basic,” Cecily said, opening the door so I could get in. I climbed up behind the wheel. After little Monty, it felt like boarding a school bus.

Cecily showed me the controls and gave me instructions on windows, lights, heat. Then she handed me a key and wished me luck. I bravely waved goodbye and turned on the ignition. The Jeep was parked on a hill and when I tried shifting into drive, it rolled downward. I tried again; it rolled more.

I pulled the emergency brake and raced back inside. Cecily had just sat down. “I’m rolling down the hill,” I gasped. Instead of rolling her eyes, she smiled kindly. I wondered what was in her coffee. We went back outside where she eased the Jeep down the hill. I took over while Cecily watched and waited, no doubt wondering what would happen next.

Miraculously, I drove away. What a novel feeling, sitting up high. Three days later I felt secure enough to turn on the radio. One month later (Monty had a lot of injuries) it was as if I’d always driven big rigs. The real challenge was in finding parking spaces.

Now Monty is back, mended like new. I think I’ve experienced my share of changes for awhile. Although I know my brain is the better for it, it’s nice to return to the familiar. When all is said and done, there’s nothing so comfortable as being inside your comfort zone.

 

Sharon Love Cook is the author of the Granite Cove Mysteries and the novel Phantom Baby, a “triple-A tale” of adultery, addiction and abduction. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .