The vehicle rolled into the parking lot today a little oddly. Most drivers power on up to the front of the store, hitting their brakes only at the last minute, seemingly to avoid scraping their bumper on the front wall of the building. This SUV rolled off the street slowly, losing speed as it traversed the asphalt, finally easing its way to a stop almost in a parking spot, but not quite. The man got out of his vehicle, talking on a cell phone and walked around to the passenger side, gesturing with his hands, as if the person on the other end of the connection could see his emotional state. Taking a little girl out of the child seat, he hung up the phone with a final exaggerated motion and headed into the music store.
I greeted him and told him I would be happy to help if he needed anything, half expecting the perennial, “I’m just looking.” To my surprise, he didn’t beat around the bush at all. “I ran out of gas and wanted somewhere to get my girl out of the heat while someone brings me some more.” We talked a minute. I offered to give him the couple of gallons I had available, but he demurred, saying that a family member was already on the way with some.
I got busy with other things and didn’t think about how long he had waited, until I heard his cell phone ring. He wasn’t happy as he explained (not quietly) to the caller that, no he didn’t want the small container, it had oil mixed in it. He wanted the 3 gallon can, and why wasn’t it already here? Since it was obvious that I couldn’t have missed the gist of his “private” conversation, I again offered help in the form of a couple gallons of gas, which were stored in a can about 20 feet away from where our conversation was occurring. Again, he refused and I went about my business. Quite some time later, while I was talking with other customers, he noticed a familiar vehicle turning in. Exclaiming, “It’s about time!” he went out the door, once again with his arms gesturing his displeasure at his predicament and the extended time it had taken for the young man, obviously his teenaged son, to arrive with aid. Both vehicles left the parking lot shortly thereafter.
The episode, a minor part of a busy day, has been bothering me all evening. You know what I mean…There are lots of other things that demand your attention, but something niggles at your mind. I wasn’t sure what the problem was, but something just wasn’t sitting right. I left the Lovely Lady working craftily at her handwork a few moments ago, to come and write, suggesting that I might be a little too tired to come up with anything tonight. Truth be told, I’ve had a lot of evenings like that recently. I love writing; love the mental exercise and the satisfaction of the flow of ideas, snatched from the nebulous current of my thoughts and then expressed in black and white on a page or computer screen. It’s actually hard work, but with a great emotional reward under normal conditions. But, I’m tired, physically and mentally; battered by too many days without rest and too many short nights. Come to think of it, I’m running out of gas.
It hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks! The man and his little girl came into my music store for my benefit today. That was what had been bothering me all afternoon and evening. The tank is empty and needs to be filled. And I’m too stubborn to accept any help except that which I can control. I could pass the buck and remind you that the stubbornness is hereditary. It wouldn’t be untrue, but it’s an incomplete answer. Who my father and his father and his father before him were does impact who I am, but I have lived enough years on this earth to accept responsibility for my actions and reactions today. And, since the reserves are obviously about used up, I’m just going to have to admit that the solution to my energy crisis doesn’t lie within, but will come from another source which I don’t control.
I’m going to take a little time off to refuel. It’s likely that there will be some time alone with the Lovely Lady involved in the process. We may just wander around the countryside for the long holiday weekend, but there’ll be no long-distance calls from New York or Wisconsin, no customers to show guitars to in the store. You may be aware by now that my profession and daily schedule are a big part of my comfort zone, but they’re also how the fuel gets used up at times. So, I’m headed to the service station to see about getting the tank filled up, both physically and mentally, and that means a move out of my little box. I think I can handle it.
I’m guessing none of you will miss my little sketches much. They might even improve in readability after a few days off for refueling. Time will tell.
“I will do my best. That is all I can do. I ask for your help, and God’s.”
(Lyndon B. Johnson~American President~1908-1973)
“Hope oft deceives…yet twice blessed is help unlooked for.”
(J R R Tolkien~English author~1892-1973)