I had just gotten a few items at the grocery store and hoped to get home to enjoy a Sunday afternoon. But, once in the car, when I started to back out of the parking space, the engine stalled. What? Three more times I tried to back out and each time the car stalled with the temperature and battery pictures staring at me from the dashboard. Darn! My hands started to shake and I hated the thought of a tow truck coming and causing confusion in a very, very busy parking lot. I hated the thought of being seen with a faulty car. How embarrassing.
I called AAA and texted my daughters and son and husband (which probably wasn’t nice since they were not near by to help) and waited for Kitsap Towing. I remembered the time in college when I was driving my family’s car and it caught on fire! Yes, it was shocking! I was driving down the road and suddenly flames came out from under the hood and even under the steering wheel by my legs! It was crazy and a person drove by and hollered, “Get out of the car!” I did and I ran to the side of the rode and stood. Other people came to watch and I acted as surprised as they were. I didn’t claim to be the owner of the burning car that was stopping traffic on a busy street! It was so embarrassing! Eventually, fire trucks came and I had to admit ownership. Darn! How foolish I felt waiting for the tow truck and then having to hop in beside him with a disgraceful, burned up car in tow. So, flash forward 42 years… here I was again. Why couldn’t this have happened in our driveway?
I tried to relax. I worried about how the tow truck would be able to get me out this space. I called the dispatcher and asked if I should let the car drift forward in case that would be easier for the tow truck driver. She listened to my logic and then said, “He’s good at what he does, just stay where you are.” Why do I feel like I have to figure things out for other people? Why can’t I just relax?
I had an hour to ponder my neurotic being and by the time the truck got there I was happy and fine to be seen talking with the driver. (Victory! Progress!) He said he’d take the car to the repair shop and I should call a taxi. By the time my car was being shamelessly towed away I was waving to him and talking with other people and claiming the car to be mine.
I then called a taxi, which was another hour wait. As I sat on the street corner I decided to practice the art of being grateful. I began by being thankful for cell phones and a town that networks in so many ways to make life nice. It’s been an intentional practice to not be in a hurry when I do errands or go to appointments. I have loved having the time to greet people in stores or medical buildings and actually “see” them and talk to them. This takes planning for me to have this time.
It was our first trip to Ethiopia when I noticed people walking with smiles and not rushing. I asked our host if she ever rushed or even ran to an appointment. (Running to the ferry is a normal thing where I live.) She said no, that only once did she remember rushing, almost running, and for days people who had seen her asked her over and over again, what had happened to have made her rush. I was changed by that sentence.
Our grocery store is my favorite grocery in the whole wide world. Last week Fred, who works in bulk foods, said hi and I asked him how he’d been. He said, “well a few weeks ago, I died and Rick in produce found me and did CPR and brought me back to life. I was airlifted to Harborview on Friday and I was back to work on Monday!” Seriously, I will never see Fred without remembering that story and being grateful to see him. What a privilege to have him serve me through his job.
When I was leaving the dentist a few weeks ago, Marilyn, the receptionist asked me if I’d seen the banner behind her (Oops, I had totally missed it!). “Happy 70th Penny” was written in bold print. Wow, I had almost walked out without saying happy birthday to Penny. I am so grateful for Penny. She’s the skilled dental assistant I want when I have a root canal. So, you get my point. We are so blessed by the people in our lives.
Forty-two years ago, with a burning car I did not want to claim, I was much more quiet. I was much more embarrassed about being me. I was kind, but in an invisible way. I was shy and hoped to appear proper and “together”. The reality was, I was insecure and protecting myself and because of that, I often “missed” the people around me.
Honestly, some days the very last thing I want is to be seen or see anyone. I don’t know why that is, it just is. So, I have learned to accept this weakness (well, sometimes) when it hits. I am not sure if it is hormones or circumstances or just me, but I do know that I can make my way outside to see the glory around me and begin the art of gratitude. He’s always there to walk along side me and delight in who I am. It is a good thing to not be invisible and embarrassed. I am often a very slow learner, but even that’s okay.
Becky Allender lives on Bainbridge Island with her loving, wild husband of 36 years. A mother and grandmother, she is quite fond of sunshine, yoga, Hawaiian quilting and creating 17th Century reproduction samplers. A community of praying women, loving Jesus, and the art of gratitude fill her life with goodness. She wonders what she got herself into with Red Tent Living!