Once More Unto the Breach Dear Friends

Posted on Oct 11, 2016


susannahSunday night I hopped in the car at five o’clock to get to an audition in Tigard.

It was rainy, rainy, rainy; buckets coming down, and trucks were racing down I-5 leaving tidal wave sized wakes inundating my Honda. On the radio the presidential debate was imminent, and that added to the tension. I arrived to my audition, sang thirty-two bars of an up-tempo, and off I went to meet my sister and mom at the movies. I was a little early, and decided to stop at Fred Meyer to pick up a few groceries.

As I pulled into the parking lot the presidential sized insults began to fly, moderated, of course. One served, another returned, and a succession of quick volleys, as the debate wore on. Each question made me feel worse. I volunteer at my daughter’s high school and I had to laugh, this is “political discourse?” “This is the example that is being set for our young people?”   A pit formed in my stomach. First, I can’t believe I used the term “young people.” God, I’m old. Second it hurt to think;  “Is everything really going to be okay?”

Most people know me to be an optimist. Fred Rogers is my guiding light, you know, that Mr. Rogers? I felt my optimism ebbing. Hopelessness was setting in.

For the record, there is no quick stop at Fred Meyer, but you probably know that. If it’s not “your” Fred Meyer then you spend a goodly amount of time figuring out where everything is, and with the rain, and the impending gloom of the debate I was even more stressed when I got to the twelve items or less check-out.

The man who was checking me out was quiet and calm, and I began to rummage around in my bag for my wallet. It’s a big bag, and I’m used to rummaging around sheepishly until I find it. I rummaged. I rummaged some more. No wallet. Suddenly it hit me, I had switched purses and I didn’t have my wallet. Aaaaahhhh. Nooooo. Really????

I was strangely calm. “This is how it’s rolling,” I thought. “I don’t have my wallet.” I said to David, my checker. “I live far away, I don’t have any way to pay.” I hung my head and began to gather myself to leave, as a man was walking toward me. “You don’t have what you need to make your transaction?” He said as he walked toward. “No, “ I responded. “Well, let me get that for you.” I was taken aback. “Oh my, really?” I said. “Well sure, you look trustworthy.” “I look trustworthy,” I thought.

That old stand-by, trustworthy; in other words, I look like a suburban housewife.  I’m grateful, and yet at the same time saddened by the fact of personal appearance having such an impact on a beautiful good deed, but that’s another story. This one is pure and simple, I think. A kind man noticed what was happening, and paid for my groceries. My day turned right side up. A bona-fide, generous, good deed. I took his information, and gave him my card. Let’s say his name was Bob. As I write this there is an envelope by my side addressed to him with reimbursement for the goods.

Here’s the funny part, the part I feel a bit embarrassed to share, so I know that I have to share it. Today, as I write this, I’m afraid that I’ve stepped into a relationship with a stranger. You know? Like the time my mom invited a homeless man over for dinner. That polite, comfortable wall between me and a stranger has been breached. We skipped over the small talk, a tangible kindness occurred, and now he’s engaging with me as though we are friends, e mailing me yesterday, posing a riddle to me, and actually corresponding. Old school. I’m a little apprehensive about that, all though now that I’ve written it down the apprehension is ebbing, I’m glad to report. I feel a warmth again, a gratefulness, for the kindness shown me, and a willingness to trust Bob, and that is where I want to be. Experiments In Love and Trust. I got handed one on a silver platter, or, really,  in a sliver shopping cart.

So back to the story. The fact is that once I got back into my car, my almond milk, butter and dishwasher soap safely inside, the debate came back on. Karl Becker, a town-hall participant, asked the final question: “Regardless of the current rhetoric,” he asked, “would either of you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?”

They responded; Hillary less kindly than I might have hoped, Mr. Trump answering, to my mind, more in the spirit of the question, and after the kindness I was shown at Fred Meyer, during a blinding rain, there, sitting in my Honda, a sliver, of hope breathed right through me.

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