Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Grace in small and big things

Last Tuesday morning was a bummer. I had something that needed to be sent overnight to Olympia. After some minor adventures getting the thing prepared in the first place, I went up to the postal shop near work. Their sign said they open at 9, but their door was still locked at 9:10, so I gave up and drove to the post office.

Halfway through my wait in line, it occurred to me that I needed a copy of the document before I sent it. I crossed my fingers that the post office would make a copy for me, and stayed in line. When after a long wait I reached the counter, I asked hopefully. Would the post office make a copy for me? No, most certainly not.

I trekked out and retraced my drive back to the postal shop. No parking, though. I drove in an ever-wider circle around nearby blocks, finally finding an open spot several blocks away. The slush still frozen on the sidewalks made for a tedious struggle back to the postal shop.

Now open (and with a copy machine too), the shop took care of my petty mailing needs at last, an hour after I'd set out on what I supposed would be a quick errand.

Photocopy in hand, I tucked my wallet into the pocket of my jacket and headed back toward the car. About halfway back, I stuck my hand in my coat pocket to get my keys. There were the keys, but wait--where was the wallet?

I swore in a whisper for some reason and turned to retrace my steps at a run, scanning the ground for my wallet. It had just been in my hand mere moments before; it must have fallen out of my pocket when I shoved it in. Surely there hadn't been time for anyone to snatch it--

"Wait!" a woman's voice jerked my attention up. She stooped over at the intersection half a block ahead of me, where I had just been. "You dropped this!" Straightening up, she held up her coffee cup in one hand, my wallet in the other.

I thanked her with passionate relief. "I saw you through the window of the coffee shop," she said, "and I thought, 'What's that she just dropped?' So I just came running out after you."

After thanking her again, I started back for the car, wallet securely in hand. When I got there, while I was I unlocked the door a car horn beeped nearby. "Ma'am! Ma'am!" a woman passenger called from a passing vehicle, the driver slowing to a stop just behind me. "Did you get the thing you dropped back there?" she asked with great concern. I assured her that I had, and thanked her for checking.

She waved, satisfied, and her car pulled away.

I can be a little cynical about people. To have two separate folks running after me to reunite me with my dropped wallet, on a day otherwise full of frustration, was a nice bit of evidence for the way it's also possible for us to all look out for each other.