Monday, December 07, 2009

Her Heart Grew Two Sizes that Day

The other day Jake needed a haircut. We don't often get his hair cut in this town, since it might mean something silly like $35 for a simple buzz cut. Jake has decided to grow his unruly hair out and have it actually styled, so I was in the need of a simple, and somewhat cheap, place to get a 13 year old's hair snipped.

A flip through the yellow pages and a phone call later, I found a barber who was open, but would be "closing at 1 o'clock sharp."

"Jake, hurry UP!" I swear, that boy would sleep all day if we let him. It was already after 12, and we needed to move it, move it, move it.

I had never heard of this barber shop before. The girl had said it was right next to the building supply store in town. Funny I had never noticed it, I could swear there wasn't one there but maybe I was mistaken.

We pulled into the parking lot of the building supply store and began walking around, looking for the barber shop. No luck. Inside the store, I asked a clerk.

"Oh, just cross the street and it's up the road,"

"I don't remember it being over here," the wind was cold and biting as Jake and I crossed the busy street. No barber shop. "Let's try the other way."

We walked about another block in the other direction, peering at every store front. No barber shop.

"Well this is stupid. We've been wandering around in the freezing cold looking for this place, and it's closing in about 40 minutes. " The more we walked, the more annoyed I got. I don't have time, universe. My life is busy. I work six days a week, have deadlines to meet, a family and house to take care of. Why couldn't this woman give me decent directions? Is this what they call customer service? Seriously, if I can't even find the shop, am I going to bother going? Of course not. This is my only day off and I have groceries to get, stocking stuffers to scout out, food to make, a house to clean, laundry to do, not to mention a gazillion blog posts to write, and articles, meal plans, do they think I have all day to wander around aimlessly looking for a stupid barber shop?

"I'm done," whirling around on my heel, I began stomping for the warmth of the car and Jake quietly ran to keep up. "You'll have to wait until Wednesday because this is freaking ridiculous." I was beyond annoyed. I was steaming. I don't have any spare time, universe. It's not like I can get to a barber on a whim. I have to schedule it now. Isn't that stupid? So busy that I can't even get my own kid a haircut until my schedule allows?

A plan was soon hatched to make the most of our time out by stopping at the bank to get some of Jake's allowance so that he could do a little Christmas shopping with Dad once I dropped him off at home. Jake, sensing my cranky mood, decided to stay in the car.

I think it was a move of self preservation. I was like the girl from The Exorcist, all growly and head spinning menacingly.

Stalking to the bank, I noticed through the window that there was an elderly gentleman at the ATM. Great. He'll probably take forever. The whoosh of warm air as I opened the door greeted me merrily, along with the twinkling Christmas decorations and canned holiday music.

I waited.

And waited.

Then...began to wonder. The gentleman in front of me was obviously having trouble with his bankbook and figuring out the machine. He turned around to sweetly ask me a few questions, and without warning, my Grinchy heart slowly began to soften.

"Oh, I can't figure it out." he walked away from the machine, frustrated. "It's not my day. You go ahead, I'll do this another time." As he made for the door, I suddenly realized that he had left his card in the ATM and called after him.

"Wait! You can't go! Your card is still in there!" Hitting the cancel button, I retrieved his card and slip, then handed them to him. "Can I help you with it?"

"No, it's okay, " he sighed sadly. "I had a stroke in February, and ever since, it just hasn't been the same."

That Grinchy heart of mine completely melted. It hit me right then, just how lucky this man was that I had been behind him; some dishonest person could easily have accessed his account and cleaned it out. The word "stroke" made me immediately think of Anissa and her family, and right there I realized that my behavior earlier had been just totally stupid. Did it really matter that we couldn't get Jake's hair cut today? Why didn't I just enjoy the fact that I was spending time with my teenager, who would all too soon be grown and out of the house? Instead I had stomped around, acting self righteous and important as everyone should adhere to my schedule.

Not anymore. I was not going to allow the logistics of Christmas crowd out my holiday spirit and take over what should be a fun, caring, giving month. How could I get so focused on working, working, working that I had actually forgotten what Christmas was all about?

This former Grinchy girl did something she's never done before. Something that would have struck terror in my list-making, over planning, schedule making heart.

I went home, took the schedule off the fridge, and tossed it.

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