Monday, May 11, 2009

How to Have Your Crow and Eat it, Too: Part 3

The old couple drove off and I approached the busy intersection alone. Twelve lanes of traffic, some stopped, some going, some turning. Normally I would be scared, but I felt a complete peace as I stood there waiting for an all-clear. My only fear was that a car would zip down the turn lane and not see me coming, but I prayed for a safe crossing. I slipped off my shoes, picked them up, took one final look in every direction and hurried to the other side. Then I trekked up a steep grassy knoll to the shopping center, becoming a bit more self-conscious of the abnormality of it, wondering if I looked like the female version of Harrison Ford in "The Fugitive." (I may have been panting as hard, but I think he had more facial hair.)

At long last I spotted a chrome box with an attached phone. Wow. They do exist in modern suburbia. I fed it fifty cents and dialed the church. Sarah picked up. It was nice to hear her voice. I explained my predicament and she wasn't fazed. (Do I really not surprise anyone anymore with my stupidity?) "I figured you had just gotten to yakking with Miss Karen after Weight Watchers and forgot all about school and that you had let your cell die again." She had already picked up Joel from his classroom.

Since I had only fifty cents left to my name, I asked her if she'd call Kelly, the closest person I could think of (three minutes away). Sarah balked. "And make her pack up four kids? Mom!" She was right. That would be a bother.

"Okay, then," I ventured, mentally pressing the 'bother family' button. "Can YOU come get me?"

"I'd rather not," she said, tying her time at work with finals and forcing me to come up with a new option. (She apologized later.)

"Sarah, is there anyone there still in the parking lot who lives around here? Mitzy? Someone?"

It ended up Mitzy could come get me but it would take an hour after her carpool drop-offs. I would wait. I honestly thought of getting a massage at the tanning place. Wouldn't that beat all? Then wisdom took the reins back and I sat inside the grocery store on a hard bench. It was like doing penance, which made me feel better for inconveniencing someone. All I knew was that Mitzy, Sarah, and I all wanted to go to the ladies' meeting that night and hear Laurie speak, and I didn't want to make Mitzy late for that.

She arrived at 4:00 sharp and we drove to her place to the can of mower gas. Drove to my van, put the gas in, but it wasn't enough to start the engine. Went to the station, put more gas in the can (which I kind of spilled on those cute new shoes of mine) , returned to the van and fed it more. Finally. The sound of a working engine! It didn't sound 100% normal, though, and I asked if Mitzy would follow me to her house. I would sit and wait for Sarah to get off work and follow me home. Didn't want to chance another mishap without a cell phone. She agreed and we arrived at her home around 5. Poor gal had to skip her choir rehearsal, change her dinner plans from baked chicken to scrambled eggs, and needed a shower to get the gasoline smell off herself.
She wouldn't take help in the kitchen, wouldn't let me stay in my van (even though I smelled) but insisted I have a seat on her couch and relax. She refused letting me spring for pizza and gave me an ice cold water to drink. Completely hospitable, in spite of her many dashed plans.

Sarah arrived at 5:20 with Joel in tow, and followed me the nearest gas station to get a complete fill-up. She then had to drive to her school for a meeting and back to the ladies' meeting, skipping dinner. Boy, had I really messed up. Meanwhile, I threw a meal together and took a shower, set my stinky shoes on the porch to air out, and donned a new set of threads.

I got to the ladies' meeting just in time to grab a cold drink and a seat with friends. A feeling of safety and belonging rushed over me and I wanted to cry a river of relief, but it would've been inappropriate. The Holy Spirit gave me self-control to hold in my tears, a trick I didn't believe could be taught to an old dog. I've been a crier all my life, but I must credit the Lord for training me through training my students that emotions must be controlled. It "just so happened" that Laurie's talk was on self-control, and I was glad I had already realized victories in self-control with my appetite and emotions before she came back to town. Otherwise, I am pretty sure I would have refused the chocolate at our table out of guilt and not because it was a fruit of self-control. The Lord was kind to me in so many ways in my Out of Gas experience.

The day after God sent me a crow for reassurance, I had to "eat crow" in front of my coworkers and students. Some laughed, some admitted they were concerned, some played right into Sarah's assumption that I had forgotten about school. One thing I learned: if you're gonna run out of gas, keep your cell phone charged. If you're gonna let your cell die, keep gas in your car. But even if you're stupid again--which you will be--God will be there.


Laurie Lynn said...

God's graciousness was not "out of gas"!
I'm wondering if you have a phone charger for your car? It may not have helped in this case since you were out of gas... you may have needed a jump start also, but my phone's car charger has more than paid for itself over and over in convenience!

zz said...

I gotta get one. I have a love/hate relationship w/ cell phones and their accessories. I could write a whole post on how lazy society has gotten and how addicted America is to technology and how I hate the self-importance it conveys to have to always be on the phone. But I'd indict myself and I've done enough of that for one week, don'tcha think?

Laurie Lynn said...

I sometimes think one should be required to go through a "Cell Phone Courtesy Class" before owning a phone. I've gritted my teeth at cell phone RUDENESS so many times. I could surely amen your post (and probably write one)!
I do have a short cell phone story about why I finally decided to get one... similar to your "eating crow" story..., but another time!

Kelly said...

I'll say it again - next time call Kelly! She'll happily pack up a dozen kids to help you out!

Rachelle said...

I finally got back here to finish reading this story...I laughed and cried and it felt way too familiar! I drive so far to anywhere(nearest gas is 10 miles) that I'm often almost-out of gas. One time I was heading into town (45 miles away) and knew I was about out. I prayed and prayed-then ran out just as i was cresting the last hill-so i got out, ran along-side my van and pushed it up the hill. I got over and was able to coast to the station, which closed down about a month later...that is grace, sister. Isn't God good to put people in our lives to help us out of binds. Great story!