Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Texts with a Stranger

This will be a judgmental post (actually, aren't they all?). Assumptions abound! I must learn to give people the "benefit of the doubt." I find human behavior amusing.

I went to stake baptisms on Saturday and stayed for the whole three hours (three wards). My new counselor was there too. We were observing the way everything played out to see if we needed to suggest any changes. The ward scheduled first never showed. We will emphasize from now on that if you're going to cancel a baptism that you scheduled, you need to let someone from the stake know, otherwise, people are sitting around the stake center for an hour that could have been used in a more productive way. Courtesy. It takes a good five hours for the member of the high council to arrive, fill the font, set up the room with chairs, wait for the baptism of just one person (there are usually more), drain the font, clean the font, and launder the clothing. These people that just "no show" have no clue how much they've inconvenienced someone. So we just sat and chatted.

Then people from the ward scheduled second began to arrive. That baptism started a good ten minutes late because some family members and friends just couldn't arrange their lives carefully enough to be punctual for a special occasion. This ended up making it a tad bit difficult for the following ward to get in afterward for their turn, but who's thinking about the ward coming next? Not many.

So I noticed that when the latest people arrived, it was a family with three children. The relatives had saved some seats for them in the middle row and made quite the production of scooting over so they could plunk themselves down, but, the woman ignored and bypassed all that by heading to the back row on the other side. Again, totally judging here, but it did seem she was playing the martyr by "saying" they were late and therefore didn't deserve anything closer. However, after getting seated in the back row, someone from the rows further up headed back to make a plea and the family conceded that yes, they could possibly join the family members who had saved seats for them and the group of five rose to move forward and find their seats, baby carrier and all.

It was a spiritual experience to be there--beautiful baptism!

So, the ward scheduled second was finishing up and my counselor went around quietly shooing them all out of the room because members of the ward scheduled third were starting to enter the room, but couldn't seem to find seating, etc. due to the volume of people remaining from the ward scheduled second. I'm guilty of it all myself, you know, so absorbed in what I'm doing that I fail to notice others around me.

Another amazing baptism and they finished up right at 12:45 with an announcement they were serving cookies and lemonade in the kitchen. Well, although I knew the family, I wasn't going to stay for refreshments, but I hadn't had the chance to greet the parents, so I ducked out to the parking lot through the kitchen after hugging the mom and saying "hi" to the dad, congratulating them on their son's big day.

Two steps into the parking lot and a man approached with a set of car keys (Chevrolet). He found them under his chair after the baptism and had asked everyone from that last baptism if they were missing keys. Because of the circumstances, I suspected they were from that middle baptism and had the idea they belonged to that family that had trouble deciding where to sit.

Well, the member of the high council was gone and everything else was locked up, so I put these keys on my key ring and headed home. I emailed and texted the Primary president and bishop of that ward as well as the high council and the stake presidency in case anyone got word about missing keys. "I have them!" Just trying to be helpful. It was 1:00 p.m. on Saturday and although I was surprised that people drove off without their keys, I just knew it wouldn't be long until they discovered they had left them somewhere. Nothing.

I carried them on Sunday thinking I would get a text during church that so-and-so from such-and-such a ward was looking for their keys. Nope.

Nothing on Monday either, until this text at 7:21 p.m. "Hi, my name is Staci. I heard you have my keys! When and where can I meet you to pick them up?"

So I texted right back with my home address asking if they were headed over then (because I had one errand to do).

"No, we are at dinner right now but maybe in the next hour or so?"

No big deal...I mentally pushed my errand to the following afternoon.

I hadn't heard back by 9:03 p.m. so I texted, "Perhaps tomorrow sometime?"

"Yes. I live in Orem so we just ran out of time tonight."

Clearly, losing a set of car keys is not any kind of urgent matter to this person.

Therefore, it wasn't an urgent matter for me either.

I texted her last night at 6:40 p.m., "I'm home for the evening and you're welcome to stop by to get your keys."

"Okay perfect thanks for letting me know! Maybe I'll get the kids in the car and come when they're done eating dinner!"

I carried on with my life.

I was on the phone with a teacher friend and then my husband called from Yellowstone. Meanwhile, this woman tried to call me three times. I had given her really clear directions to our home and was waiting for the doorbell to ring while chatting with the love of my life whom I have not seen for days and days. Finally, when she called again, I put my husband on hold.

She wanted me to bring the keys to her. Because, you know, she has three kids.

I get it. I've never been a mother, but I've been a nanny and I know how long it takes to get everyone out of the car to walk into the post office to drop off one letter and then get everyone buckled back into the car when really, because the post office has huge windows, you would have eyes on your car the entire time and would only be gone from the car for a maximum of twenty seconds, but what if the police were called or someone smashed your window for leaving children in the car, but this takes SO long to get all the kids out of the car, but I guess that's what I'll do because I could never live with myself if something happened to those kids during that twenty seconds...I get all of that.

Having three kids is a big job! Feeding them dinner takes time. It's hard to interrupt your own happiness while you're out to dinner in order to fix a mistake you made a couple of days earlier. Getting three kids out of a car to reclaim your keys is also a big job. So how can I manipulate a stranger to do my job for me and fix my mistake for me? I will call her 4 times without leaving a single voicemail so that when I finally speak to her personally because she put her husband on hold the fourth time, I can whine a little and ask her to bring my keys out to me. The keys I haven't really needed for the last 80 hours.

I said, "Let me get some shoes on and I'll be out."

I'm pretty sure I had goodwill to begin with. I would have been filled with panic at losing my keys. I would have been so grateful if a trustworthy and responsible person such as myself had chosen to keep them in a safe place and made an effort to contact people who might hear that I was missing my keys. But after seeing the hullabaloo about where to sit at the baptism after arriving late (I have three kids) to someone else's special moment, and then seeing the lack of urgency about losing a set of car keys..."I'm too busy being out to dinner and now my kids are eating their dinner and now I'm sitting outside your home because I'm using my three kids as my excuse"...I have a different perspective.

I did nothing heroic for this person and I won't list all the things that have been keeping me busy while hanging on to her mistake. I'm not saying I'm busier than a mom with three children. I'm just saying that I see a pattern here in the short time I've known this person. And I'm glad I'm not carrying her keys around anymore.

I wish her all the best as she figures out how to arrive on time to important events and allow others to have their occasion without feeling the need to steal the spotlight by making a big production out of where to sit. I wish her all the best as she learns to keep track of her personal belongings, decide to sacrifice some leisure time in order to resolve a matter in a timely fashion, prioritize, and carry on with her life without perpetually using the excuse, "I have three kids."

See? Judgmental.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you! I had a SIL like this. My judgmental thought was always, "yes, you have X number of kids. And HOW long have you had them???? Maybe sometime soon you can figure out how not to ruin things for others just because you have kids....."