Sunday, January 04, 2009
A Fish Tale
Even though this story is a couple months old by now, It's still a wonderful tale of God's mercy. It happened on a Tuesday, just 10 days after my knee surgery, when I was trying to cram too many errands in between appointments and obligations. Things would work out swimmingly if I did not encounter any delays. I had just shy of 2 and a half hours to get from Mt. Airy to Winston, go to Stevens Center to buy the Nutcracker tickets, then make a dash over to Kernersville to pick up the last load of stone for the wall, zip back to Winston to another store to buy Moravian stars for the wedding, return a shirt at Hanes Mall for Amos, and get to Rejoice Rehearsal on time (which was a half an hour earlier than usual in preparation for the Christmas concert season.) I was off to a great start getting the Nutcracker tickets, and I even found a parking place right beside Stevens Center, a critical maneuver in my slow moving state at the time.
I cruised on over to Kernersville, loaded my creaky old van up with about a half ton of stone, then went to buy gas, which was an absolute necessity; there was not even enough for the short trip back to Winston. By now, it was about 4:30pm. I pulled up to the pump, shut of the ignition, and started fishing for the fish, my oh so cute little purse that my dear friend, Carol, gave to me last summer. This little fish is totally perfect! It holds just my keys, my phone, and my credit card, and does the job with personality to spare.
Alas, the fish was not to be found! Not to panic, I reasoned that it must have fallen out of the van in front of the stone store, so I hastily beat a retreat back to search for it. It wasn't there, and the kindly, though weary, stone-helper even moved the 100 pound boxes of stone around in the van to see if it had inadvertently been covered up. No luck! I reasoned that I must surely have left it at Stevens Center even though I thought I remembered putting it over my shoulder and wearing it out. I climbed back into the van, called the box office with confidence that they would find it there, but it was not to be.
Well, by now, I'm realizing that I am in a QUITE A PICKLE: No cash. No credit card. 100 miles from home and NO GAS!! I went back to the gas station and asked if they would just take my credit card number and let me gas up (No way.) It's now about 4:45 and I have the brilliant idea that if I can get to a branch of my bank before 5, then I can get cash with a counter check there, so I went back into the gas station to ask directions to the bank. The clerk spent an interminable amount of time pouring over the telephone directory. When I couldn't stand it any longer, I asked him to look it up on google maps. After he stared blankly at the screen for another two-minute eternity, I asked him if I could look. I could see that it was a a short jaunt across the interstate, two left turns and I would be there, but I only had 8 minutes to get in the door before 5 pm closing time. Well, the second left turn came up more quickly than I was expecting, so I ended up stopping at the red light in the wrong lane to make my turn. After going through the intersection, I could see an alley on the left that appeared to have an outlet in the direction that I needed to go, so I turned in, and drove down to what looked like the exit, but it was a dead end! I had to back up and try to back out between the buildings into the street, but there was just too much oncoming traffic. So with only 2 minutes to closing time, I abandoned the behemoth vehicle in the alley (completely blocking the passage) and take off on foot and lame knee to the bank which I have yet to actually see. I ended up hopping down the sidewalk like I was in a 3-legged race, and made it to the door just as the clerk was coming out to lock up. That was my first miracle of the night. Oh, glory, glory!!!! I about killed my poor knee, but I got the cash I needed: $100 to be exact.
I hobbled back to the van, drove to the gas station, and put $20 worth in, the amount of gas that I thought would get me back to Galax; after all, I didn't want to fill up with gas that was 10 cents a gallon more than at home! By now, my little crisis had whittled away more than 30 minutes of precious time, so I was anxious to make haste to get to my next stop back in Winston, but wouldn't you know it: traffic was barely crawling on I-40 as I approached downtown. Even though it was nearly dark, I got the notion to just drive back into town and look along Marshall street for my fish where I had parked earlier. I reasoned that it might actually be faster to drive through town rather than sit on the freeway. Lo and behold, it was time for Miracle #2: As I slowly approached Stevens Center, I saw in the gathering darkness, a little forlorn rumple in the street. I stopped right in the middle of the road, jumped out and scooped up my precious little fish, that had been left completely undisturbed for over 2 hours in the middle of Marshall Street downtown!! I was really singing Hallelujah now!
I had only about 10 minutes before 6 pm (closing time) to get to the star store, and I made it with 1 minute to spare. As I hobbled breathlessly in, I was met by the nicest pooch, who was named . . . drum roll . . . .AMOS! So I just had to tell the sweet, bewildered ladies there all about my Amos, his wedding, and my misadventures and miracles of the evening. They got the stars for me; I whipped out the plastic, and she said, oh, dear, we don't take credit cards! Here comes Miracle #3: Remember that I got $100 at the bank? and I only spent $20 for gas? That left $80 for the stars, which cost $75. I thought I was home free, but then I remembered that the sales tax would add up to more than $80. So the lady leaned in conspiratorially and asked: Do you work for the IRS? Do you work for the state? If not, then I can sell them to you tax-free since we are an internet business. Yee-Haa!! I had $5 to spare to buy a sandwich with as I dashed in and out of Hanes Mall (well, a slow-motion dash) and still got to Rejoice rehearsal before the first downbeat!!
It's days like this that humble me and remind me of how awesome is God's love and goodness towards me. So that's my fish story and I'm sticking to it!! God is great! God is good!