It took every bit of restraint within me, to not laugh out loud in the middle of this morning’s homily…
“Patience untested is not a virtue…” these words struck me like a missile, especially given yesterday’s comedy of errors.
It all began when I arose, much earlier than the rest of the household, and quickly strode outside to say the rosary in the cool, pre-sunrise morning air…I asked our Lord to help me to be patient and kind, to respond with humility and gentleness, regardless the frustrations of the day. Oh, how often have I done that! Haven’t I yet learned? Patience is a virtue earned…and you only know you have it when you’re up against the wall…which is, of course, why I continue to pray for it. Because I just don’t have enough to last an entire day…and every time I turn around, I’m once again, up against the wall.
But I digress…
Prayers thus said, I began the day in a state of optimism…congratulating myself for this and that small victory. But as the day wore on, and the temperatures rose (and tempers along with them!), I noticed that “edge” creeping back in. Particularly when my husband, who’d planned to run the afternoon errands for me, said he had to finish up a project. “Great…” I muttered, under my breath…”I have absolutely nothing else to do…” This was all said with much sarcasm, inaudibly, but it was still there. Hardness crept in; humility was not on the menu. “By the way, can you stop at the Yutzy Market and pick up some sandwich meat and cheese?” Well, yes, I’d love to have one more errand!!! This only meant I had to travel to another town, to the Evil Empire (Walmart), a place I’ve been avoiding like the plague. No politics here, folks…just an ongoing frustration with rising prices, shrinking inventory and Target-esque remodeling efforts that have made for a shopping nightmare.
I went anyway. In the cool of the car, my temper eased and Zach and I discussed the list of needed items and I reiterated that I had a lot to do and really needed to accomplish our errands as quickly as possible. He’s super-easy about these kind of things, and before I knew it, we’d picked up a few items and were making our way to the car…
Have I mentioned that my purse is a disaster? That I have a nasty habit of simply shoving money, papers, receipts, etc. inside without much consideration? Well…as we approached the exit, a gust of wind snatched my receipt from my open purse and carried it across the parking lot, helter-skelter. I, in a scatter-brained attempt to retrieve said receipt, abandoned the shopping cart…bags, purse and all, and pursued it, limping like Quasimodo on a really bad day. A gentleman, watching my (I’m quite sure) hilarious antics, exited his truck and helped snag that wayward paper. “Uh…miss? Your cart?” EEK!! I’d forgotten! There it was, in the middle of the parking lot, cars doing their best to avoid hitting it…I’m sure you can picture it, can’t you? I limp-run for it…and make my way to my car.
And where was my 16 year old son, during my ordeal? Why, starting the car, of course! The sideshow attraction was just a little too embarrassing for him, so he decided to make himself useful.
I was, shall we say less than appreciative. Grumpy. Grumbling.
Loading the groceries in the backseat of the car, I said “You could have at least grabbed the cart! Oh, never mind!” I slammed the car door, and he sheepishly closed the driver’s side door.
Our eyes met. LOCKED!!! Keys in the ignition, car running, doors…locked! It’s one of those built-in safety features that I hate…we’d played this scenario once before in the driveway, at home, with lots of resources to help us break in, but not in a Walmart parking lot…
The frustration…the anger…I could have seized that moment and risen above it, offered instant encouragement but instead I ranted. “Why?!” “HOW?!!” “AGAIN?!” As I looked into his hurt, and slightly-more-than-angry eyes, I saw my own frustration mirrored there. Time to back down…regroup.
“OK. We’re stuck. Dad’s repairing the truck, so calling him isn’t an option. How did we do this the last time?”
We discussed how we’d managed to slip a yardstick-sized piece of wood in a gap in the sunroof and pushed it down, down, down to the button that unlocks the car. We decided we’d pick up something similar inside the store and repeat the process. “A tension rod might work…and I actually need one! Let’s go…” We argued for a bit over the size of the rod. I felt the smaller, thinner rod would be long enough, but he didn’t. As he was the one who’d unlocked the car before, I deferred to his wisdom.
A few minutes later, we were back at the car. The heat index was approaching the upper 90’s, but armed with the rod, a bottle of soda and a bottle of water, we approached the vehicle with renewed determination…only to discover that the larger tension rod was too thick to pass through the small gap in the sunroof. Oh, how I hated to be right that time! Zach was furious…it seemed we were beginning to draw a crowd of interested onlookers. We were quite the sight: I, holding his pocket knife, prying open the sunroof; he, trying to push that rod through the opening. It was kind of surreal and not one soul offered to help. So…back to the store, to get the smaller rod, which we were now certain would fit through the opening, and its adjustable spring would allow Zach to extend it to the appropriate length.
My good young man slit open the bag that contained the new rod. He measured it against the distance needed and began to adjust it. CLANG! The rod fell into two pieces…no spring!! It was defective!
“THIS IS MADDENING!!” Can you believe this?! Both of us were incredulous at this point…and I began to think that perhaps the police might have better luck breaking into this car than we…but we persevered, Zachary performing a few MacGyver-like modifications, using nothing more than brute strength, his pocket knife and creativity.
As he prepared to push the rod into the opening, the hilarity of the entire escapade struck me and I began laughing like a loon. From the mad receipt chase, the abandoned shopping cart fiasco, the twice-failed purchase of tension rods and the rude onlookers…it just struck me as incredibly funny.
“Zach…this is an absolute circus!” I began humming that crazy circus tune we’re all familiar with. Zach, one eyebrow raised, says “Yeah…all we need are a couple of…CLOWNS!!!” He shouted the word “clowns.” I thought he’d snapped or joined me in the loony bin, but no, he was pointing at the car that had just pulled in. Right in the middle of my circus music performance, two clowns exited this vehicle. Complete with big red noses and funny whistles!
You just can’t make this stuff up…
We were dying at this point…trying hard not to make eye contact with the clowns, when Zach gave the rod a final push and we heard the blessed “click” of the door unlocking…
Ah, freedom! We entered the car and sped hastily out of the parking lot, cranked up the air conditioner and spent the remainder of the errand run reliving the insanity of that half hour.
I shared with Zach my prayers of the morning. How I’d asked the Lord for patience, kindness, etc…
“Well, Mom…I’d say that experience was an EPIC FAIL!”
Oh, yes…I’d have to agree. There I was, with my back against the wall, and I decided to turn and run…SMACK! Right into the wall…again.
Well, I’ve dusted off and sonny boy and I have a really interesting shared experience. So, perhaps, it’s not such an epic fail after all…