Suzanne Olsen's Humor Blog - I don't offend some of the people most of the time

Category: Miracles

Gifts

Sticky post

Gifts is misleading – a gift is something someone gives you, not because you deserve it (although I do, especially on my birthday because I, like many children born in December, got short-changed back in the day and would only get one box with the feeble, “Here’s your birthday and Christmas present,” mantra that, to a child, did nothing but break my heart. I didn’t know the pecuniary value of the gift, all I knew was that there was only one box to open, and that box didn’t even have balloons and streamers on it, but reeked of Santa’s and pine trees and red and green do-dads, so where’s the birthday present? – the cheapskates), but because of the person’s generosity.

This previous run-on sentence is an homage to William Faulkner, whose book, The Reivers, I’m reading now. I read it in one of my literature classes decades ago but probably only skimmed it enough to write a satisfactory analysis. Woo-wee, Faulkner is hard to follow. He writes like someone rambling along, one thought jumping in on another, going back and forth in time the way we say, “No, wait, that happened first, not after, he got out of the car. Now I remember. He was driving along and then that’s when he said…”

That’s how my brain works, a song drifts in and I sing a couple of lines in my head and then a thought bursts in (kind of like my husband does, banging open the bathroom door when I’m relaxing in the tub, just for a laugh), “Oh shoot, I forgot to put those green beans in the refrigerator. Crap! I’ll have to go back. They’ll go bad. They’re in vinegar, won’t they be okay? I don’t want to turn around. You’re an idiot. You’re almost to the mall. Just do your exchanges real quick and go back. I hate this. I wanted to go to Fred Meyers. I wonder if it would hurt to leave them another hour? With all that vinegar? They’ll be fine.” And then I sing out loud, really belt out the last stanza of the soulful song “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, putting all my heart into it. “Oh shoot. You just missed your turn. What an idiot.”

The book is delightful, but I don’t know if modern readers could get past the couple of chapters to get hooked, even if they knew it won the Pulitzer Prize and got made into a movie starring Steve McQueen.

The gifts I’m talking about are the ones I get from God. Some people would call them miracles, but I know miracles. These are on a much smaller scale – like stocking stuffers or party favors, but no less appreciated.

The gifts I get most often have to do with me running late for everything. I can’t leave the house at the scheduled minute and hour because I think I have time to put the water glass in the dishwasher, and hang up the dish towel, put the magazine on the pile around the corner. I’ve got time – I know, to the nanosecond, how long it takes me to get somewhere – IF I don’t get stopped by too many red lights. When I make it through a few in a row I smile and say to myself, “It’s a gift.”

I get premonitions – not like someone who sees the future, but I get a feeling that I should do something. Like pick up around the house when I’m not expecting someone to come over. The place is usually technically clean, but I leave things lying around, drawers open, coats hung on the backs of chairs, an open umbrella drying in the great room, dirty clothes in the basket in the middle of the floor headed for the laundry room or folded on their way back to the bedroom, pine needles and leaves on the carpet, cups and plates in the kitchen, recipe book, colander, measuring spoons, pepper grinder and fresh dilly green beans in jars that should have been put in the refrigerator. Saturdays I do toilets, vacuum, sweep, dust. The place is nice for the weekend. Weekdays it’s a hoarders paradise.

Sometimes I take a notion to pick up around the house even when I’m not expecting anyone, who knows why, I just do it. And then there’s a knock at the door and it’s someone like my mother-in-law. “Come in, so glad you dropped by.” As I lead them into the tidy kitchen, “can I get you a cup of tea?” I smile and think, “It’s a gift.”

I’ll make plans to do something when I’m too busy or it’s not my favorite activity, and then it gets cancelled. “It’s fine,” I say, “it gives me a chance to get this mess picked up. You should see my house.” I hang up, smile, and think, “Another gift.”

No, it’s not coincidence, because these aren’t things I’m praying for, they’re little surprises that come from subconscious hope. I don’t want to pester God with trivial things like red lights (although I do sometimes when I’m desperate). I know where my gifts come from, and I know who to thank.

Even picking up that dog-eared, water-stained, frayed, crackling paperback from Survey of American Literature 403 was a gift. Thanks Mr. Faulkner, for giving me some smiles and forcing my brain to focus pretty darned hard to figure out what the heck you’re talking about. You really did understand the human heart. Maybe someday I will too. “It’s a gift.”

And yes, I’m smiling.

I Smell Roses

Something happened yesterday and I want to tell about it. I went to meet some friends for dinner – a dinner I didn’t really have time for so I was waffling about going at all and ended up getting there very late. I had to order takeout because by then everyone was finishing up.

On the way home I passed a car on the side of the freeway. A man was standing in back of it waving his arms frantically at the cars whizzing by. I passed him so fast there wasn’t anywhere to stop. I wondered if anyone else would stop for him, but figured they would. Besides, it could have been a scam. I was alone, it was a dark, cold night, and what was I going to do with him if I did stop? I’m no mechanic.

I drove on, looking in my rearview mirror and seeing that no one else had pulled over. It was in the mid-thirties, cold and dank. I wished him the best.

But something nagged me, and I decided to go up the freeway to the next exit, which was a few miles away, turn around, and go back and make sure he’d gotten a ride.

That takeout was wafting up from the seat beside me. I scarfed a couple of French fries, but I knew this detour was going to make the meal all cold and gooey. Still I pressed on and prayed, as I headed back in the other direction, that he had gotten a ride and someone else had dealt with the problem.

I circled back and drove very slowly past the car – slowly meaning around 45 because big semi’s were thrusting by me, pushing my little car sideways like it was a bug someone was blowing across a table. Thank goodness, I said out loud, he wasn’t in the car. Someone had saved him. Yippee!

I could see a ramp leading off to the side as I accelerated back up to speed, and in the black night somehow I saw the silouhette of a man pulling a suitcase. By the time I got stopped on the shoulder, I was a quarter mile down the freeway. There wasn’t anything to do but back up, which I did in absolute terror because the shoulder was narrow with a steep bank on the side, and any little play in my steering wheel would have made me a pancake on the front grill of a semi.

I arrived next to him and yelled out, “Do you need any help?” Of course he couldn’t hear me from up there with all that racket, so he started down the bank. As he got closer I saw he was wearing a thin leather jacket and had a sweater wrapped around his hands. When he was closer I yelled again. “Yes, I need help. I’m about frozen to death.”

I told him to get in the car and cranked up the heater while he explained that his car had broken down and his daughter was coming to get him but he was trying to find somewhere warm because he was frozen through. I offered to take him home but he just wanted a warm building to wait for her. A few exits down was a McDonalds, so I said I’d take him there. He tried to call his daughter on his cell phone to tell her where he’d be, but his hands were shaking so much that at first he couldn’t dial the numbers.

“You saved my life,” he said, several times. “I would have frozen to death out there. I had to start walking but I couldn’t even see any lights where I was.”

I took him to McDonalds and he thanked me profusely and assured me his daughter would be there in a couple of minutes.

This story isn’t funny (what do you mean neither are all the rest of them!!). But I’m telling it because it made such an impression on me. Not that I did a kind deed, because if it had been up to me I would have been smackin’ on takeout a half hour sooner with no remorse. But I felt compelled to turn around, and when I think about not wanting to go out in the cold for dinner but deciding to go anyway at the last minute, and choosing that route home instead of the other one, and glancing up at the ramp and barely seeing a human in the black night, well all I can say is, anyone else would be an idiot to do what I did. Let a strange man in my car out in the middle of nowhere and haul him around? If my daughter did that I would have smacked her up side the head.

But I did it, planning my escape the whole time, “If he pulls a knife, I’ll do this, and if he grabs me, I’ll do this, and if he hits me I’ll do this, and if he tells me to pull over, I’ll do this.” Scoff if you must, but I believe I was being guided by an angel, and since I’ve had good experience with angels many times before, I don’t doubt them one bit.

And guess what else? My daughter and I are going on a road trip tomorrow to see the Ducks play in the Rose Bowl!!! GO DUCKS!!!!!!

And guess what else? There’s three inches of snow that fell this evening outside and it’s beautiful. We made snow cream – snow + milk + sugar + vanilla, tastes fantastic! And tomorrow night I’ll be in Pasadena.

Here’s a great video to paste in your browser about the DUCKS!!!! Woo-hoo!!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eucA0aElOAQ&feature=rec-LGOUT-farside_rn-2r-6-HM I smell roses….

Copyright © 2020 by Suzanne Olsen