Today it rained so hard that my car was shaking! I had parked in my usual lot, though it was unusually crowded, at Davis. Getting out of the vehicle became complicated once I realized I had to maneuver my backpack, jacket and umbrella under torrential circumstances. The 80 mile drive usually takes me about an hour and fifteen minutes on a perfect day with no traffic. Today I pulled off on the Davis exit having reached the two and a half hour mark! Oh, I hate that drive!
Though I was very late for my poetry class, I went in anyway. The teacher likes me, and I know he'd prefer me to show up even if I'm not right on time. Thank goodness I made it in time for the Bob Dylan reference of the day!
It has not been a delightful couple of days, what with me being sick and having a paper to write and turn in today in Shakespeare... one that I felt completely unmotivated and uninspired to write. But behind every gray cloud, the sun still shines.
A friend of mine from class stopped me in the hall. "You weren't here on Tuesday," she said, looking too happy to be thinking about the next two hours of Shakespeare. "The professor extended the paper's due date."
Yet the excitement from that news wore off about the same time my tennis shoes stopped keeping the rain off my toes. Freezing and unbearably far from home, it was all I could do to make it through my last class of the day. I practically ran out to my car! And I stopped a McDonald's to refuel myself before the journey home.
Inside the warm restaurant, I know I was scowling like Ebenezer himself. Even when I noted that the music playing was a traditional Christmas carol, mentioning Jesus by name and urging all the patrons to "come, all ye faithful!", I sniffed and stalked to the bathroom.
It's not Christmas , I thought, oozing with self-pity. It's barely December. And it's cold, wet and awful! And my husband is 3,000 freakin' miles away! And I'm eating fatty fast food which is going to make me feel miserable and heavy later on.
When I opened the bathroom door, I almost ran headlong into one of the McDonald's staff. She looked like she was going to say something about the bathroom only being available for paying customers. Probably not, but I was in a foul mood. I think she may have sensed that, as she backed up slowly and edged against the wall and out of my sight.
Nothing on the menu sounded remotely good. I kept hearing Jon's voice in my head telling me to turn around and go to Subway instead. "You know it'll make you feel better later." But I didn't want to feel better. I wanted sympathy!
"What can I get for you?"
I made it through ordering my food without snarling at the nice girl across the counter. She smiled at me, exposing her braces. Ouch. I remember those all too vividly. She had rung me up wrong and had to start over. Perfect.
As I filled up my drink and took a pouting sip through the straw, I was jarred from my pleasant mindset by the giggling of a little boy, swinging wildly on the bars that determined the line for ordering food. His mother looked tired. She was on the phone, tugging at her son. They ordered. When the food came the woman checked everything to make sure it was correct.
"You gave me a girl toy." Mom was displeased.
"I'm sorry. We only have girl toys left," said Miss Braces with her signature silver smile.
"But my son doesn't want a girl toy."
"We don't have any more toys for boys." Inadvertent rhymes, especially under pressurized conditions usually amuse me. This was no exception.
"You have nothing else? Nothing for a boy?"
Braces shook her head as Mom scooped up her heavily laden tray and turned to go. But she turned too quickly and the large strawberry shake slid off the tray and splattered on the ground. The little boy froze and began to whimper. Nobody moved. Nobody breathed. That's when I saw the gleam in his eye. He started to crouch, moving into prime jump-and-splash position!
I scooped him up from behind and placed him several feet from the sticky pink puddle on the floor. Mom muttered a quick "thank you" before herding him into a booth at the back of the restaurant.
Moments before the whole fiasco I had picked up my order from the front counter. Ironically, I too had ordered a happy meal. Peering into the bag I could see the Power Ranger toy sitting right on top of the food. As many fun hours I knew could be ahead of me if I would only stop and allow myself to play with the toy, I further knew that the little boy was disappointed with his colorful, girly figurine with the plastic hair.
Do something nice , I ordered myself. Give happiness to receive happiness.
The staff had fixed up another strawberry shake and it was sitting on the counter, but Mom was too distracted to come and get it. Without giving it a second thought I grabbed the shake and took it to their table. And then I gave the little boy my toy. The transaction took less than fifteen seconds, but the surprised, warm look on Mom's face made me feel so good!
"Have a happy holiday," I said.
Nothing feels as rewarding as giving a surprise gift to someone, even a stranger! I encourage everyone I know to do it, even if it is for a selfish reason like cheering yourself up. The near two hours spent in the car on the ride home flew by because I could imagine the joy the little boy felt when he could entertain himself with a Power Ranger, at last!
I'm feeling healthier each day, and my heart feels good now that I've reached out to someone. Some people find it easy to be kind and generous to all. I have to work at it. But the work is worth it. Tomorrow Jon comes home. Oh, I cannot wait!