Just Like Dropping Marbles

The day was like many others that I had spent at my new place of employment. Get to work around 8 o’clock, putter about trying to stay out of trouble, head to lunch, do some more puttering, and head home for the day. Only one particular thing was out of the ordinary on this day, and it happened at lunch.

As was my custom, when the clock struck 11:55 am, I gathered up my packed lunch and headed to my designated area. While my company has a cafeteria chocked full of tasty goodies (though I have yet to sample any), my Dave Ramsey-ness has prohibited me from partaking. While $5-$10 entrees and sandwiches seem to be a good investment comparatively to Dallas food prices, I prefer my sack lunch that saves me a few dollars here and there. While I look listlessly at my wilting lettuce and hope the slightly rancid smell my lunch meat exudes doesn’t mean it has expired, I rest confidently in the knowledge that I am saving money.

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The lunchbox

This particular day, I avoided the busy cafeteria and headed to my quiet grotto. While some of my coworkers have lunch together, I usually pass on their invitation. Their discussions on food (which I’m too cheap to purchase), sports (Texas people are crazy football fans!), and former coworkers (who I’m probably glad I never met) don’t seem to relate to me. An hour spent reading a good book or staring into space with a dreamy grin on my face as I world-build does more to rejuvenate me for the second stretch of the day.

I found my spot at one of the high-tables and had to hop to land on the tall stool. Three other high-topped two-seaters and four low, four-chaired tables surrounded me and sat overlooking the escalators in my office. People, like me, who preferred reading, thinking, or (most frequently) playing on their phones joined the ranks of the lone lunchers.

As I stomached the last of my salad, emptied my fruit cup, and tried to decide whether to save my chocolate square or scarf it down immediately, I began to absentmindedly fiddle with my necklace. The black pearls were nothing more than costume jewelry, but they stretched my meager supply of ornaments. Spinning the large and small balls in my fingers, I gradually worked from the front of my necklace to the back.

Snap!

They went everywhere!
They went everywhere!

Without warning, my entire necklace exploded! Bead after bead cascaded down the front of my red button-down, hit my lap, and shot out from me in all directions.

I sat frozen, helpless, incredulous as the small black spheres continued to form a growing half-circle around me. Like dropping marbles on a cement floor, theĀ pingsĀ continued unchecked.

In unison, a dozen sets of eyes turned to me. I just sat there as the last of the beads rumbled down my chest and oozed away.

“I guess my necklace had all it could stand,” I said with a frazzled chuckle.

The dozen pairs of eyes all swooped back to their forms of entertainment. Perhaps they thought that ignoring the problem would save them from having to help.

I hobbled off my stool, my pencil skirt restricting my movement. Slowly, I began the process of scooping up my beads. One lone lunch buddy, who I never spoke to before or after, helped me gather up my two dozen beads. Hurriedly depositing them into my lunch pail, I headed back to work with a bare neck and a lunchbox full of costume jewelry.

My quiet lunch hadn’t been so quiet after all.

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Safe and sound inside

 

Wisdom Did Not Descend on Me on My Birthday

On the morning of December 28th, I awoke to discover that I had survived 24 complete years of life. On this day 24 years ago, Angela was born into this world. While this is a great accomplishment in itself, apparently, being a year older does not automatically make one smarter. I found that out quickly.

My birthday began relatively quietly as I dragged myself out of bed and prepared for church. My five day sabbatical from work seemed to have left me more worn out than before I began. Since my family all separates and evangelizes the entire city of Dallas by going to four different churches, I headed to church on my own.

Pulling into the parking lot of my place of worship, I was quite pleased with myself. With the holidays drawing to a close, traffic had been light, and I made good travel time. Pleasant thoughts of arriving early for the service for the first time in months swirled through my head as I pulled into the parking lot and found a close spot. I gathered my belongings as I listened to the end of a song on the radio, and then I went to turn off my car. I switched off my vehicle and started my normal routine. Suddenly, I realized I had a problem….

I had no training on what to do in a situation like this!

My key wouldn’t come out of my ignition.

Panic began to swirl in my chest, but I tried to calm myself down. When I had purchased the vehicle in October, I was only given a single key, and the key was bent. On Tuesday, I had had the hardest time getting my key to slide into the ignition (though I finally got it in after pushing on the brakes and straightening out my steering wheel). As I jiggled the key, turned the car on and off, and yanked as hard as I could, my stomach began to clench up. The key was not coming out, and I had no idea what to do.

The minutes ticked by. I was pressing, pulling, and praying frantically as I tried to process what to do about my problem. I had a warranty on my vehicle–should I call and say my engine swallowed my key? Should I call a locksmith? I was alone, and my family was inaccessible. I considered going into church and coming back later, but I couldn’t leave my car with the keys in the ignition sitting in a packed parking lot.

Five minutes of stress dragged by. I decided I needed a second opinion. No use getting the authorities and specialists involved if I had simply made an error. Like mothers who are able to find something in two minutes that took others hours to find, I wondered if perhaps someone else would have the magic touch I was missing.

A couple of cars pulled in, and I sprang from my vehicle to assault the other drivers.

“May I borrow one of you?” I called attempting not to seem too frazzled. “This may sound very dumb,” I said with a meek, frenzied chuckle to the 35-year-old man climbing out of his vehicle, “But I can’t get my key out of the ignition.” I went on to explain about the bent key, and my inability to free it from the jaws of my Camry.

The man began working to help this damsel in distress. He began asking questions about which way my key was bent and if this had happened before. I stood in the cold, swirling breeze trying to be helpful but really being no help at all.

“I don’t want to pull too hard and break your vehicle,” the man said. He seemed about ready to give up. I understood his feelings. At least my diagnosis had been correct.

As a final resort, the man began playing with the lock buttons and fiddling with other gadgets. Shoving my hands in my pockets, I let out a sigh. Now what was I supposed to do?

Click.

Suddenly, the man turned to me with a great grin on his face. In his hand, held aloft, was my free key!

These foreign cars are so tricky to use!

The man climbed out of the vehicle and handed over my released treasure. Trying to swallow his grin, he said, “Next time, try putting your car in park.”

With profuse thanksgiving and gratitude, I allowed the man to return to his family. He assured me that this would be our secret. I had a profound wish in that moment that my hair hadn’t been blonde.

So, moral of the story: wisdom did not descend on me on my 24th birthday. In fact, I couldn’t even make it to 9AM without having trouble. With a start like this, I’m a little concerned about what will happen to me in the next 12 months!