When I got back into the passenger’s seat, I realized I had left my keys on the counter. I had run in to get coffee, and I had taken them out to have the reward card scanned. Luckily, I had noticed they were missing and not later when I tried to get into my house.
Quickly, I ran back in, scooped them up, and exited. I had my head down and was preoccupied with putting them into my purse in a zippered pocket. It’s a bit harrowing when you realize that such an important piece of your life was almost left behind, so I was making sure to secure them.
I opened the car door and slid in.
“I cannot believe how stupid that was for me to leave those in there.”
I discussed how forgetful I had become and conversed about how I needed to pay better attention to my things.
I reached over and pulled the seatbelt across so I could click it in place. As I straightened up in my seat, I smelled old cigarettes and dirty hair. That was my first indication that something was amiss. I slowly turned my head to the left.
A strange man was staring at me. Actually, he was frowning deeply. I returned his frown.
I was just going to ask why he was in the wrong car when I started to glance around at the dashboard. The whole interior of it was unfamiliar to me, and the smell was incredibly pungent. When I saw the fast food bags and cups piled up by my feet, I knew then I was where I should not be.
“Oh my gosh! I am so sorry!” I said, scrambling to get out. It seemed like time stood still, and I couldn’t release myself fast enough. I kept apologizing, and he kept on swearing.
“What the f…” He went into a complete rundown of every bad word combination I had ever heard.
His eyes were huge as I fought to leave. The car was low to the ground so getting into it was easy; exiting was not. It was like an invisible hand was pushing me backward to stay while I desperately wanted to escape.
The more he bellowed out every profanity known to man, the more I panicked. When I slammed the door behind me, I could still hear him cussing me out.
I had seen only the color of the car out of the corner of my eye when I had been distracted.
In that split second, without even realizing it, I had made a judgment, and my legs walked me to that vehicle, and my body planted myself in a raving lunatic’s car.
I should have been in the one next to his. One little parking spot can make all the difference in the world.
How fast does the mind calculate our moves when we let it take over? I found out that it might not function as efficiently as it should on autopilot. I had received an unwelcome greeting from a man who really should have been more accommodating of my mistake.
By the look of his filthy surroundings and disheveled appearance, he should have been grateful that I gave him any of my attention. From the looks of things, he needed a mother figure such as myself to help him. Apparently, it wasn’t a good time.
His angry reaction shut down my ability to think clearly. I was already embarrassed by making this error, but then to be reprimanded further in the middle of it really made me believe that I was the crazy one.
It appeared that I was, especially when I told him my whole life story while buckling up, not realizing he wasn’t the person I thought he was.
Our encounter was by total accident, but he reacted as if it were intentional.
Another unexpected, uncomfortable meeting happened between an individual and me at a store. The place was packed, and I was with both of my daughters. Every time I had gone there, I found their system of line formation a mystery. I try not to jump from one to another in an attempt to guess which one is going to get me out faster. It never works to my advantage. Because right as you switch, you get behind a person who pulls out multiple bags that they have kept hidden.
“I need to return all of these,” they say, and the place you moved over from now is traveling forward at light speed.
I was not in any hurry and was trying to figure out which cashier I would pick. They had three to choose from. A fourth one opened, and some people moved over.
I waited until I thought everyone had made their decisions, so I settled on one. I looked up to see a woman glaring at me and shaking her head. I thought maybe I had taken her spot, so I said,
“Do you want to go in front of us?”
I do this all the time, especially when I see a poor soul with a few things in their hands while the rest have a million.
“No!” She said with a sharp tone.
“Really, you can go ahead of us.”
“No!” She said again in a way that had a passive-aggressive undertone. Her mouth was saying one thing, but her body language expressed the idea that I had sinned against humanity.
“I’m okay with you moving over here,” I said.
Again, she refused with a bad attitude. There was this slight laugh, and the sarcasm was blaring.
Instead of accepting my offer, she wanted to humiliate me publicly. It was as if she thought I had done something wrong, and she wanted all the other shoppers to know. We call this Minnesota nice if you have never heard of it.
Someone will smile, but you can see they want to murder you with their eyes.
She had totally perceived the situation wrong.
“You seem to have a problem with me being where I am,” I said.
Now everyone was looking at her.
“I did not cut the line, but you seem to think I did, so go ahead of me.”
When she realized that all the attention was on her, she turned her back and refused to look at me.
They say that witnesses to the same crime can all report a different story. The details that one sees, some see it differently or not at all. The shock and the trauma that the mind undergoes can rearrange the facts and create a distorted view of reality.
In both of those situations, these people thought I had done wrong. I had shown up into their lives momentarily, in one case more extreme than the other, but not at all with the idea to cause them upset. Yet, it was viewed that way.
I got in the wrong vehicle because I was distracted. It doesn’t take much to have your eyes fooled into jumping to the wrong conclusion. If your attention is not focused, you can quickly think you see something that is not what it is.
All of this means that nothing is as accurate as following the guidance from your spirit instead of letting your physical senses take you places that may not be correct. In addition, the opinion of others doesn’t really matter. If you know that you are at peace between you and God, who has guidance that can compete with that? No one.
An excellent example of this is in Matthew 20; a parable is told where a misunderstanding causes issues. A man hires help for the day, starting early, and as he sees more people in need of work, he employs more and more until it’s evening. He offers to pay them all.
What’s the problem? The ones who started earlier want more money than those who came along later.
They protested, “Those fellows worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as those of us who worked all day in the scorching heat.”
“Friend,” he answered one of them, “I did you no wrong! Didn’t you agree to work all day for $20? Take it and go. I desire to pay all the same; is it against the law to give away my money if I want to? Should you be angry because I am kind?” (TLB)
A person who is trying to help others is yelled at. Go figure.
As always, the Bible uses stories like this to help us see something. The ones hired first forgot to be thankful. They let their own reasoning take over, and they elevated themselves to a place of being the boss versus the worker. Never a good idea, especially if you are attempting to fill God’s shoes. Their understanding was clouded by thinking they were mistreated when they had not been.
They thought they saw injustice when really, generosity was on full display.
They misread a moment that should have been celebrated. All because they assumed.