Almost Can Be Good Enough

“Almost” usually doesn’t counts.

Coming close but without the expected result has little significance.

As a boy, I felt quite educated to know the expression “Almost only counts for horseshoes and hand grenades”. Usually, I was sarcastically saying that line after winning a game or some other feat of athleticism or skill. The loser, sometimes my little brothers (poor fellows), would attempt to retain some dignity by reminding me that they had almost caught my fly ball, almost beat me to the finish line, almost hit the target, etc.

My mind has simply associated “almost” with failure.

But that’s changed recently.

Sometimes “almost” can be good enough; actually, it can be a very good thing.

I consider myself to be an excellent driver (take my word for it). My track record of anticipating a stupid moves on the part of another driver is quite stellar, and that has allowed me to keep my last couple of cars from becoming crumpled or otherwise damaged.

But my idiot radar doesn’t always work on myself.

Let me preface my little confession by saying that sometimes bad things happen to good people.

Luckily there were no other cars involved or even nearby, but I pissed myself off by nearly driving my new car off the road. The new car is rear wheel drive which means that if the rear end starts sliding I have to let off the accelerator to straighten out. That’s still something I’m learning. My first two cars were front wheel drive, and in the rare occasion the rear end starting sliding, all I had to do was slightly accelerate to pull my car straight.

Old habits die hard.

This past evening, I was accelerating onto the freeway on-ramp when I felt the rear end starting to kick sideways.

Brilliant me counter steered.

Stupid me accelerated.

The car responded by going into a tailspin. The empty on-ramp happened to be two lanes wide. As I listened to my screaming tires, I mentally blessed the brilliant engineer who had designed the two lanes. The tailspin was pretty severe. I ended up sideways on the on-ramp front wheels pointed where I wanted to go, but the car was facing the drop-off. I mentally prepared to go off the road, but my car finally straightened out with my right wheels riding on the shoulder’s asphalt berm.

I’m sure my headlights and taillights made some cool flickering dance while my car merrily slithered on the on-ramp, but that was for any spectators to enjoy. I sat inside my car happily pissed.

Happy because I hadn’t wrecked or gone off the road. Pissed because I knew I had made a stupid driving mistake.

That’s when it clicked that almost is a good thing. I had almost lost control, but I hadn’t. I had almost slid off the road, but I hadn’t.

The spinning lesson has taught me two things. One, I am no Nascar driver. Two, “almost” can be just good enough.


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