Sunday, November 28, 2010

Stop and Smell the Roses or Look at the Rocks....or Rescued

The morning had gone well. I had accomplished so much at home I was proud of myself. I wanted to get Noel's birthday gift, wrap it and ship it at the Post Office, which would close in an hour and a half, plenty of time. I parked in the lot of the store. I stepped out of my granny van, set my purse on the driver's seat, pulled my sweater across from the passenger seat, (begin slow motion action at this point) almost dropped the sweater in a puddle, made a lunge for the sweater, knocked the van door with my elbow, door closed and locked. Hmmm. I had my bluetooth in my ear, but the phone and my keys and my open purse (displaying wallet and credit card to all passersby) were in the locked van.

James is a big proponent of hide-a-key. I'm sure there must be one on my van, but do I want to lie down in the rainy parking lot to search underneath for the little black box? Not if I don't have to. I used voice commands to call James. Something about his name doesn't register with my bluetooth. I voice dialed his phone number...still no connection. I called Holly Rose. My phone always understands her name and called her immediately. She called James at work who told her there is no hidden key on my van. Huh? (Silence...bird's twittering in the background...) What? Why?

Holly and Jeff, dropped their shopping plans and headed from Auburn to Black Diamond (twenty minute drive), dropped the three boys off at home for their naps, and picked up my spare key from the key ring at my house. Then Holly came to Covington, another (twenty minute drive) to rescue me.

Meanwhile, back at the parking lot, I paced around my van in my infamous sweater, my scarf and gloves in a light drizzling rain. (Umbrella visible on the passenger seat, heavy sweatshirt visible on back seat.) Not too bad. I called Noel by voice commands and she entertained me by describing greeting cards she had purchased for several friends who will soon have babies. I was proud to put a guilt trip on Noel, telling her I was in the parking lot because of her birthday gift. She offered to read me some Edgar Alan Poe poetry or Pride and Prejudice, I settled for detailed descriptions of the cards. She offered to call the store with her credit card information so I could do my shopping, but I didn't want to leave the van with the purse advertisiment saying ROB ME. A nice young woman in an electric green car stopped to express her concern for me. She invited me to sit in her warm car, she said she would wait with me until my daughter arrived. I thanked her, but declined, since I knew Holly was almost there. I wish I had taken her up on her offer. Maybe I could have made a new friend. Who knows what I could have learned from her.

Holly Rose arrived, I had been stuck for a little more than an hour. I unlocked my door, jumped in and took off for home. I had lost the desire to get a gift, I had missed the Post Office closing time anyway. I headed for home.

On the way, I noticed a UPS store. Hey, I thought, UPS doesn't close at 2:00! I pulled into the parking lot and checked the hours. They closed at 6:00 for the holidays. (Fanfare and beginning strains of Hallelujah Chorus play here) ALRIGHT! Plan B. Back to my parking lot. I very carefully exited the van holding my keys and my purse tightly. Zoomed into the store, purchased Noel's gift, drove back to the UPS store, had her gift packed and shipped (okay, it will go out Monday and arrive Thursday). Success.

The whole experience made me think about how busy we are. We think we don't have an extra hour. But when forced to spend an hour doing something unplanned, it always works out. Two other stuck and rescued stories come to mind that illuminate this point.

When James was a long haul truck driver, I went on a trip with him one summer. We were headed for home going through the Colorado Rockies. Up ahead was a road work project, as there always is during the summer. Traffic stopped and what started out as a long wait, became an extended event on a mountain road. We learned that the road crew had stopped their work to use some of their heavy equipment to help rescue some rafters who were in peril in the river below us!!! Well, what did we have to complain about? Everyone got out of their cars, trucks, campers and motorhomes. We milled about on the hot roadside. Some petitioned the Coors Beer truck driver to open the back of his truck and supply a roadside party. He declined. The river was too far below us to go wading or swimming. Across the river at our level was a train track. I enjoyed watching several trains come around the bend on what appeared to be a ledge just wide enough for the track, and then disappeared into a tunnel. The road surface we were standing on was beautiful. The aggregate was of pink and blue and gray and yellow stones. Colorado roads have alot of mica in them, so as you drive along the roads sparkle, but I had never seen the road surface up close. We wandered along the roadside, enjoying the various wildflowers and weeds. I was almost embarrassed to be enjoying myself. Many people were crabby and impatient, but James and I had a lovely afternoon together. It was a date we never could have arranged, and will always remember.

The other story took place last week. Three teenage boys were discovered on a remote uninhabited island in Fiji. They were 800 miles off their course (EIGHT HUNDRED MILES that is the equivalent of from my house to Salt Lake City). They had been missing for FIFTY days. Their families back in New Zealand had given them up for dead and had already eulogized them. The fishing boat that rescued them had taken a short cut through the islands. They never went that way (and neither did anyone else). The boys had survived by catching a few fish, drinking a few drops of rainwater and eating a sea gull!!! It hadn't rained for a few days and the boys had begun to drink sea water...DEADLY.

The boys were not stuck for an hour as I was. They did not suffer because their bluetooth wouldn't dial a certain number. They didn't have to get a little cold and wet because instead of the sweater, the heavy sweatshirt was locked in the van. They didn't turn down offers of help because someone else would be along in just a sec. Our lives are busy. There is another world out there. I like to zoom out, step back, see what I can see. Who is in the river? Who is stranded on an uninhabited island? How can I give an make a difference. And what pretty rocks or weeds or trains will I discover as I step aside from my own microscopic world?


  1. Don't forget that I also offered to have pizza and/or flowers delivered. I felt so bad that you were standing out in the rain on my behalf. You are the best Momma and I love that your experience didn't make you grumpy but instead you were contemplative and thinking about ways to look outside yourself. You are very sweet!

  2. Erin, That is one of the MANY reasons why I truly LOVE you. So much of who I am in life, is because I tried to emulate you. Of course you will say that you should not be emulated because you are not perfect....of course none of us included. But so many of the qualities that I want in my own self, are seen in yours. In all the years that I have known you, I love how you love your husband, and children. I love your soft spoken ways. I love how you made the best out of hard circumstances when James was gone all the time, or when he was in school and money was scarce. I even remember the time that you invited Sarah and I over on Christmas Eve. This is when I was newly single again and was feeling lost. I remember those times. Your love of sewing spilled out to me. I will always remember the matching dresses you made you and Noel (and maybe Holly too but I can't remember). That always impressed me a lot. There are too many things to list here, but I just wanted you to know that you are loved for your great outlook as well as for the lovely example you were and are to me. I love ya tons...more than you will ever know.

  3. Oh Erin, I so do love to read your writing! I can still hear your voice in my head, even after all these years! When you "zoomed out" I could visually follow you but I zoomed out a little too far (saw the whole planet earth) and had to zoom back in a little bit.

    I have a good story that goes right along with yours....

    I had just moved back to Spanaway after being away at college. I had a job interview and wore my best dress for the occassion. In all of my nervousness about the interview, I neglected to watch my dash and failed to notice that I was very, very low on gas.

    The interview went well and I was really excited to get home. But somewhere out on the Spanaway Loop Road, I ran out of fuel.

    I remember that it was raining, and I had on high heels, AND my best dress. There were no services nearby. I looked at the houses in the area. The nearest one was an old bungalo style. I decided to knock on the door and ask to use the phone and pray that no one evil lived inside and that my dad would be at home to answer the phone. (And come rescue me!)

    I was nervous to knock. I was afraid of what might be behind the door. Honestly, I was afraid for my safety. But I was stranded with little other options than walking in high heels along a country road and that seemed infinitely more dangerous than knocking on a door. So I gathered my courage, took a deep breath in and.... knocked.

    Shortly, the door was opened by the most angelic looking woman I had ever seen in my life. I'm sure in that moment I breathed a huge audible sigh of relief right in front of her.

    As I explained my predicament she listened and smiled. I could see a room full of small children behind her watching a television show and determined that she must have an in home daycare. (VBG!) She invited me to come inside and get warm and insisted that I have my dad come there to get me so I wouldn't have to walk back to my car in the rain.

    The time passed quickly as we visited. I'm pretty sure that she served me tea and cookies while we waited. (Though it could have been banana bread.)

    The children were amazingly quiet, darling and well behaved. My favorite of the bunch quickly became a sweet and soft spoken little girl, the youngest of the group. She had long blonde curls cascading down her back. (Curiously, this sweet girl is the rescuer of her own mother in the story above, how sweet is that? Ü )

    My father arrived and I said goodbye to the woman and children who made me feel so welcome and at ease in their home. I was so grateful for the kindness and knew I would always remember this angelic woman.

    Suprisingly, we met again the following Sunday and became fast friends. Erin Stout and her family left footprints on my life and heart that I have carried with me over the years and miles between us. She lifted, supported and encouraged me. (I still have all the letters she wrote to me after we moved) and with her I always believed I could do anything!

    I have never doubted for a moment that I knocked on the right door that rainy day.


  4. What a positive way to think! I think that, as you said, we are too often caught up with what we have to do next that we are not enjoying what we're doing at the moment. Thank you for sharing these stories and reminders that sometimes when we are forced to stop our busy lives, we should be contemplative and enjoy the time we have. :)