Monday, December 04, 2006

Good Intentions

Today was a test. A true test. My mom always said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions . . . and I had good intentions today.

I was to leave my house by 8:00 am - my son, Adam was to supposed to pick me up - then we were heading for the east side of town to pick up my sister, Judi.

But, before I go any further, none of that happened as planned: My son over-slept and I could not reach him because his phone was not working. I waited, then phoned my sister at 8:20 to tell her that I was not going to wait any longer and I would be driving my car to her her house (even though the fan in my car was not working properly and therefore no heat would be pumping out on this frigid morning). As I drove down 6-96, all of my dashboard indicator lights flashed on and off a few times. I said a little prayer requesting of God that I not break down on the freeway.

I arrived at Judi's house at approximately 8:47 am and we headed for the grocery store.

"OK, we have to do this as quickly as possible," I said. "I told her we'd be there at 9:30."

"Don't worry, I know this store like the back of my hand, just read me the list." Judi replied.

"Bananas, bread, eggs, sausage, orange juice . . .' I rattled off the items on the list.

We hurried through the market filling our cart until the last of the items, paper plates, was crossed off the list.

Thankfully, there were only a few other shoppers and we didn't have to wait in a long line. But we did have to wait behind a women who obviously worked at the store years ago and was inquiring about which of the employees were still around. Patience, I reminded myself. All good things in time.

I couldn't get my trunk to open with the automatic remote as we walked toward my car. Hmm, must need a new battery. But, it would not even open with the key. So I unlocked the doors and we piled the bags into the back seat. I handed Judi the directions, I put the key in the ignition - turned it. Nothing. Turned it again. Nothing.

"Oh my God. You have got to be kidding me!"

"The devil must be trying to stop us from doing this." Judi laughed a little.

"I have to call them and let them know what's happening." I dug my cell phone out of my purse and dialed.

That's where the part with the 'good intentions,' comes in. I had volunteered to make breakfast for the families at the Ronald McDonald House - which was scheduled for 10:00am. At least thirty tired, hungry, worried parents were going to be waiting for us. But, it was now 9:18 and we were stranded in the grocery store parking lot freezing our fingers and noses off.

"Hello, this is Lindy and I am supposed to be there making breakfast right now, but I am stuck in the grocery store parking lot and my car won't start."

"Do you want to talk to your son? He is here waiting for you." The voice on the other end asked.

Oh yes, I want VERY much to talk to my son. I was thinking.

"Sure." I said, instead.

Adam came to the phone, "I'll be there in fifteen minutes to get you." Click.

Adam knows the city better than most, so I knew it would not take him too long to pick us up and get us back there. In the meantime a man who had parked in the space in front of us, hooked up some jumper cables. His wife smoked a cigarette as he gave me the go ahead when it was time to turn the key. After about ten minutes and a few tries we got her started.

"Probably the alternator or the battery." He told me.

I hate cars. I love the big city and mass transportation. I have always had bad luck with cars. I hate cars and I hated Rich (my recently 'exed' boyfriend) even more because he is a mechanic.

Adam followed us to Judi's house, down the street, where I left my car in her driveway. We transferred all of the bags and headed for I-75.

OK, so what if we got started a little later than planned and breakfast was not ready until closer to 11:oo am. And so what if the first man we saw when we walked in mumbled, "You're late."

Late for what I thought? And, I let it go. The stress level is high here. I know. I stayed at the Ronald McDonald House when my grandson spent the first weeks of his life in Children's Hospital.

It wasn't long before the smell of coffee, French toast, and sausage lightened all of our moods. Something about breakfast . . . it is so comforting.

And seeing the faces of the worried parents smile, however brief, felt good.


Susan Miller said...

My mother stayed in Michigan in a Ronald McDonald House last year and spoke of people like you who would come in and cook for the families. What a beautiful thing you did!

Get a Honda...used, it doesn't really matter. Mine has 260,000 miles, and (knock on wooden desk) provides me with reliable transportation. They have incredible engineering.

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Lindy,
I love the details in this story. I would have been in a panic, but it sounds like you kept your cool. I also HATE cars -- they put me in a state of low-grade anxiety all the time. But it's so good that you made it and breakfast is a great way to comfort people (especially the ones in the R.M. house, which is home of such stress and sadness). Beautiful post!

Stewart Sternberg said...

I once had the kids at school volunteer to work at a soup kitchen. I don't think the staff wanted us there. People in non profits usually have a hard time successfully working with and maintaining volunteers.

Erik Donald France said...

Great Detroit story. After ten years around here, I can relate -- especially cars and meeting times. Ever read any Anne Lamott?

Laura said...

Well like they always say, "better late than never" I'm sure the people didn't mind your being late too much. A wonderful thing for you to do.