Tuesday, May 4, 2010

So you want to hear about my morning?

It wasn't a great morning.  Let me say that upfront.  Use that as my excuse, perhaps.  The morning followed an extremely long night, a night of one restless, wary, 'where the heck am I?' dog, and excessive barking from one wary, 'who the heck is that?' dog, and three very, very disgruntled adults who really just wanted their sleep, and 'who ever wanted dogs in the first place, anyway, for pete's sake?'

And this morning was meant to be all about the elders.  Doctors appointments, Office Depot, the bank.  You know, the typical elder activities.  And I was running late.  When I got in the Highlander, the big glowing 'gas on empty' light was on, which can set my heart a-racing at the best of times.  I hate, hate, hate that little light.  In my ideal world, I'd fill my car far sooner than I need to just to keep from seeing that light, just to keep from the possibility of running out of gas.  But I've been out of town for the last week, and my family doesn't deal with gas gauges as I do.  They like to play it fast and loose with that glowing light signaling empty.

Yes, I got across town, picked up the elders, and got Thyrza to her doctor's appointment. I told Grampie the next stop was gas and he said, "Great, you can drop me at Home Depot (which is what he calls Office Depot) on the way)."  All fine and dandy, I got to the Costco pumps, finished filling my tank, hopped back in my car to go to Starbucks (for caffeine-please, a little caffeine!), and tried to start the car, it only clicked. Click, click, click. Nothing.  Click. Nothing.  With a long line of cars behind me.  A really long line.  You know those Costco gas lines.  There might have been some cussing for all I know. But I was too busy praying to notice.

The scruffy-faced young gas attendant helpfully looked under my hood, though what he expected to see, I haven't the faintest idea.  He didn't touch a thing.  He did, however, get behind the wheel and try starting the engine himself, and I was just sure it'd turn right over for him.  You know, the way these car-things always do.  You take your car in, say it always makes a certain noise or it never starts on the first try, only about the fiftieth, then the mechanic gets in and starts it right up, and you're standing there with egg on your face.  I've wiped that yolk off more than once, taken a car home, only to have to take it back the next day because I was right, there really was a certain noise, it really wasn't starting immediately, it really was billowing black smoke.  But today the Costco gas attendant couldn't get my new-to-us car started.  It click-click-clicked-nothing for him too, so he pushed me across a busy lane of traffic to the tire shop, where an even nicer young man, also scruffy-faced (I think there's a new kind of razor invented that takes off a top layer but leaves about two days growth of whiskers at all times.), pulled out a battery and some cables and jumped me...er, my car.  The Highlander started right up.  Then stopped while I was still thanking him, so he replaced the cables and jumped it again.  And again it started right up, but that time he'd barely gotten the cables off the car before it sputtered and died.  Tried it the third time and by then it was obvious that I needed a new battery.  I mean, even to me.  I'm no car mechanic, but I can figure a few things out, if you lead me to them.  Like he did, by saying, "You need a new battery!"  Then he told me that if I bought one in the warehouse, he'd put it in for me.

So, leaving my car right where it was, semi-parked outside the garage doors of the tire-store, with its hood still up (asking for trouble, maybe), and armed with the right information (ie, which battery I should by, which he looked up for me), I went into Costco and bought a battery.  And you know what?  Those things are dang heavy.  I had no idea, never having had occasion to lug one across Costco before.  All the while Grampie was waiting for me at Office Depot, and I still hadn't had my morning tea, though by now I was ready for a double shot of espresso.

At the back of the incredibly long line at Costco's check-out, the man in front of me volunteered to put my battery in the seat part of his overloaded cart.  "I can't believe you carried that," he told me. "I can't either," I said. "I wasn't thinking."  Then when we finally got to check-out, he put my battery in front of his groceries.  The checker and box-person (a woman who played basketball with E in Community College) asked me about my day, and I had a small rant about how badly it had been going so far.  "At least you were right here," the checker said. "Yeah, I guess," I answered.  "And don't forget," she said, "If you bring the old battery back, you get nine dollars back."  Right, I thought.  Like I have time to do that...

I raced over to Office Depot with my battery, found Grampie, drug him (at turtle-pace) back to the car with me, telling him my sorry story as we walked, found the mechanic who exchanged old battery for new, then asked me for my receipt and said, "I'll go get you your 9$."

When I got into the car and it started, I took a deep breath.  Drove over to Starbucks, got a latte, picked up Thyrza, got Grampie to the lab for his blood work, and had them home in time for lunch.

But you know what?  It wasn't until I was on the way home that it really hit me what kind of morning I'd actually had.  Yes, a dead battery.  But that dead battery allowed me to see grace extended in ways I normally don't. The gas attendant who pushed my car, the mechanic who went out of his way to care for my car, even though it wasn't in his job description, the man in the Costco line who gave my battery a ledge to sit on, my arms a rest, and me a cut in line.  I'm telling you, the whole world extended grace to me this morning and I was so stinkin' busy being frustrated by what was happening to me I didn't notice.

Oh, and at Startbucks, when the baristas heard my little battery story, (which they did because the woman behind me in line had almost hit me with her car when she pulled up beside mine...and she was apologizing to them and to me, and I said that was nothing to what had already happened this morning), they gave me my latte for free.

Yep, it was a great morning.  Only I wasn't quite awake, alert, aware enough to see it.  I do now, though.  And know who to thank.

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