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Locked Out, Not Alone

Locked Out, Not Alone

I pull on the car door handle. Locked.

I try the passenger door. Locked, too.

I peer inside and see the small red purse containing my keys sitting right beside my bag of frozen fish and bunch of fuchsia tulips.

I feel the familiar ache in my gut— the one I get when I can’t solve my problem alone and I’m to blame for the cause of it. Someone was about to be inconvenienced because of. my thoughtlessness, carelessness, or sheer stupidity. My loathing of being a bother is so great that I once walked for miles in my party shoes rather than call for help with a car battery dead after midnight.

I head back into Trader Joe’s. I spot Bill, with his beard and Hawaiian shirt. I explain my plight. He calmly escorts me to a customer phone to call AAA. He gets the number, since my phone is securely in my car. Silently he hands me a pen. Then paper.

I feel a bit of relief. I feel a boatload of gratitude too, that no clients await me back at the office, bothered by me being delayed.

As I wait beside my car, a tall pretty woman exits her SUV and comes towards me. I recognize my client, Kathleen. We break into simultaneous smiles. After a cheerful exchange she heads back to her car.

I continue to lean on my trunk, warm from the afternoon sun. I see Kathleen reaching insider her car, first through one door, then another. I suspect she’s rearranging her groceries or perhaps removing a carseat.

A few minutes later she walks past me on her way into the store. “I just spent the last five minutes looking for my phone,” she said. A wave of comfort from companionship washes over me and my own embarrassment subsides another notch.

Bill comes out of the store, walking towards me. “There’s a call for you.” “I’m so sorry you have to be bothered again” I say. “No worries,” he reassures me. I take the call inside — AAA is delayed.

As I head toward the store exit, I notice my friend Anne wearing an apron and holding a tray of treats. She offers me a sample of crunchy little crackers with feta cheese and tomato. “Time for an after school snack,” I chuckle, starting to relax. I tell my story which now seems small as we catch up on one another’s lives.

I return to my post in the parking lot. Soon another smiling woman approaches. “It’s Carol,” she says, rescuing my slow brain. A beloved cousin, our paths tend to only cross at weddings and funerals. She shares that her husband had a recent horrific surgery. She asks me for prayers and we part with a hug.

Jerry from AAA arrives, and after a few short moments I thank him for being my knight in shining armor and hop in my car.

If i was a bother, in under an hour I’m driving with my convertible top down, my fears reframed by those who helped me see every human error is an opportunity for another human’s loving kindness. I’d experienced it in abundance.

Coach Koenig


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