I stood in line at the cash register, behind 3 others. They were all college boys, supplying themselves for the adventures of a Friday night, with snacks and large containers of beer. I wasn’t sure how I would make my request, how it would sound, or whether it would move the owners. I was put in mind of Francis of Assisi and his routine of begging in the streets for food, offering blessings in return. He often had the door shut in his face. Would that be my fate tonight?
“I realize that this is an unusual request, but would you have a metal shovel I could borrow? My truck is iced in and I need to crack through.” They looked at me. One of the men said, “The shop is locked.” I assumed my fate was sealed. This, by the way, was a small family-owned gas station/service center at 150 Main Street, New Paltz, with a 3-bay garage next to a convenience store. But, then, he said, “Let me check in my car for the keys.”
He came back, opened the shop and began to look in earnest. He looked everywhere, and back again. Remarkable for someone who didn’t know me, or my trustworthiness. And, besides, he was clearly dressed for a night on the town – sweater, tie, hair with product applied.
He invited me in while he continued to look. No such shovel was found. But, there was a very fancy crowbar with a rubber handle. “Perfect, thank you,” I said, and I offered my driver’s license as collateral. He declined, saying, “Please, just come back.” I said yes, of course I would, thank you.
This 10 minute incident reminds me that I am far from self-sufficient, as, in fact, are we all. And lack of self-sufficiency seems so obvious at times like these, due to the hour (it was 8 pm, dark, windy, getting colder) and the desperation (I hadn’t eaten dinner, and, this might be the second weekend I couldn’t move the truck and therefore couldn’t get to my house) and the lack of sufficient tools (we had 2 plastic shovels, both useless against the ice).
This seems like a familiar story, one I’ve lived before: the hour is late, I am desperate, and I don’t have the wherewithal to make something happen.
But, if I accept these conditions, I might allow myself to be sufficiently humble, accept my vulnerability and powerlessness, and trust that help is available.
Steps 1, 2 and 3, anyone?
PS…The crowbar did the trick. The ice was powerless before it. We drove out of the parking lot, straight to 150 Main Street. Amen.