Go ahead, drive the white van
“You volunteered to drive one of those?” my boss inquired in a rather confused tone.
“Yes, I wanted to be a team player.”
“Have you driven one of those things before?”
“Um, not exactly.”
And that’s when I started to feel sick to my stomach.
I was one month into my new role when my VP shot an email looking for volunteers to drive to an upcoming team event. I replied two minutes later with, “I’d love to drive one!”…without knowing at all what I was about to get myself into: Volunteer drivers would be required to drive a sixteen-passenger van. I repeat, a sixteen-passenger van.
My boss was right to respond inquisitively. Looking back, it’s not ideal to volunteer for something you have absolutely no experience doing, especially when it comes to the safe transportation of fellow team members.
I felt even more sick to my stomach when the “mandatory training sessions” popped up on my calendar. Okay, now really, what in the heck did I sign up for?! My nerves kicked into overdrive.
Everything that could go wrong, went wrong on the day of the van ride. I left my cell phone (with instructions for how to access the white van) in my gym locker after my 6am personal training session. I know…#firstworldproblems. I realized my cell phone was MIA after I walked ALL the way across work’s massive campus.
I had about five minutes to spare after the trip there and back again to retrieve my cell. I was then a sweaty mess without a clue in the world as to where the vans were located. I had a map with a star on it showing where the vans were but getting to that star turned out to be a heck of a lot trickier than I thought it would be. I emailed the admin of my VP for help. In my haste, I accidentally replied all to my entire organization, “Eek! I can’t find the white vans.” Oh yes, that happened.
The other volunteer driver from my team called me right after my reply all. His response is why I love the company I work for: “Molly, where are you? I’m coming to find you!”
Sure enough, he jumped into his white van and circled the parking garage to find me just in the nick of time. We got to where we were picking up our co-workers without a minute to spare. Not even my inability to turn off the parking brake could stop us!
I said a little prayer and the van ride proceeded on just fine. No casualties. No accidents. No tickets. No inappropriate gestures from other drivers. And all-in-all the highlight of the team event, for me at least. The jury may still be out for fellow van riders.
When you find yourself in a moment of uncertainty about whether you should say yes to something or not, remember to go ahead and drive the white van.
It’s always good to get out of your comfort zone.
I was new to an organization and volunteering to drive the beast of a white van gave me an opportunity to show off my personality (lots of self-deprecating jokes were had while driving) and build rapport with my new team members, some of whom I do not work with on a daily basis. I have seen a few extended team members around the office since and it’s rare when they don’t crack a joke about my van-driving skills. Without that connection, we’d just be doing the polite hi-and-bye dance instead.
It’s only scary at the beginning.
As previously stated, I was scared out of my mind to drive that whopper of a van. On the way home, though, I took the drive like a champ. Due to the van’s size, it was nearly impossible to see out of the sides, so I made the whole van participate in lane changes. “We’re changing lanes!” I’d yell! And you best believe that entire team rallied around my van cry.
Vulnerability is a good thing.
Often times, co-workers get caught in the co-worker trap. They’re all business and nothing else. They fail to show their human side to others. How do you expect to bond with others without letting your guard down a little?
Thoughts of the upcoming van drive left me panic-stricken. I let everyone know this tid bit of information (as if they couldn’t read it on my face) and they could not have been more supportive, while cracking jokes as well. And I loved every minute of it…once we were safely on the highway, of course. Brené Brown said it best: “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” Sing it, Brené. Vulnerability is never a weakness.
So next time you’re unsure of something, tell yourself, “Go ahead and drive the white van.” And feel free to chuckle a little about my embarrassing story while you’re doing whatever it is you’re doing.