Real Help for Real Living: I thought I was right, but boy was I ever wrong

by Rev. Tony Marciano

A few months ago, our minivan approached 195,000 miles. So I contacted the corporate offices of Dodge and asked them if they wanted to do a live commercial on it when the odometer hit 200,000 miles. I didn’t want money, just a really good wax job on it. They turned me down.

When it hit 206,000 miles, it needed tires again. While I usually buy my tires at Sam’s Club, I decided to go to where my son works, Discount Tire Company. The tire they sold me had great reviews. I told them to mount them on the minivan.

Some 200 miles into the tire, I realized they mounted the tire backward. The driver side was correct but the passenger side was backward. The tire needed to come off the rim, be turned around and then remounted on the rim.

My wife brought the van back to the tire store and explained to the manager they were mounted backward. After hearing her story, he explained to her why they were mounted correctly. After being convinced he was right, she called me and explained to me why the tires were mounted correctly.

We then had one of those conversations married couples have, you know, when you’ve been married more than 15 years. I don’t need to explain any more about our conversation. I told her that she and the tire man were both wrong. I was right. I was going to prove it.

I took the van to the tire store to show the salesman how he improperly mounted my tires. He was very gracious. I used a Goodyear tire for my example, pointing out the tread pattern, explaining to him how the tire was directional and that he mounted them on my car backward. He politely asked me to wait and went inside to get the same tire I had bought.

You see, I didn’t buy a Goodyear tire – I bought a General tire. While the Goodyear tire was directional, the General tire was not. The tread patterns were radically different. With a gracious smile on his face, he showed me how the tire was mounted correctly. It’s that moment all of us hate – where we are shown the facts, we are wrong and there is no way we can “spin” this to be right. We are wrong.

I hate being wrong. I thanked him for explaining it to me and left the store with my tail between my legs.

I’d like to tell you that incident has been the only one recently where I swore I was absolutely right when I was absolutely wrong. It’s not.

There is a scripture verse that says, “There is wisdom in the council of many.” It’s too easy to think we have the correct answers when we don’t. During the Bay of Pigs invasion in the early 1960s, President John F. Kennedy decided what he wanted to do and then told his advisors. Those who agreed with him applauded him for his wise decision. Those who disagreed with him said nothing. His plan failed. A short time later, Kennedy was faced with the Cuban missile crisis. This time, he first asked all his advisors what they thought. Not having heard the president’s ideas, they all felt comfortable sharing their various thoughts and perspectives on the situation. After hearing all their opinions, he announced his position. He successfully dealt with the situation.

We all want to be right. Just don’t try to go it alone. Remember, there is wisdom in the council of many.

I’ll be back in two weeks. Until then, live well, my friend. q


The Rev. Tony Marciano is executive director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission, which provides a free, long-term Christian recovery program for men and women addicted to drugs and alcohol.

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