Friday, March 12, 2010

Good Days, Gray Days

As I drove down our road this morning, I realized that I was seeing things again--spiderwebs in the heads of dried Queen Anne's Lace that lined the road, the slant of early morning sun through fog and trees, a rabbit hiding beneath a bush. I almost stopped to pull out my camera. Almost.

Since Jon's been gone, I have taken few photos because little has inspired that "This is beautiful I've got to take a picture" feeling. I'm just not seeing it; what I see is my thoughts and memories, looking back to the past instead of into the present.

Sorrow is like a dark river that runs beneath the surface of every day, every night. It doesn't go away; it may run quietly and more shallow at times, but always I am aware of its current; it takes little to submerge me. Last night I struggled to keep my head above its waters as I tried to find words to comfort my granddaughter who is deeply mourning the loss of her well-loved uncle. Some people might think the young do not feel as deeply as an adult, but that is not true. Adults often have more tools to deal with pain; a teen searches for these tools blindly, usually turning only to friends who have even less experience. Like puppies, they huddle together, hiding from the rest of the world. The river runs in them too.

This morning the river was smooth, like glass, and I was floating on its surface. It was a peaceful feeling and I thought maybe this would be a good day after all.

I stopped to get gas and a car wash--the mud was literally dripping in big piles off my car, that's how sloppy it is up here right now. I figured I'd run it through the automatic wash and at least knock off the worst of it.

The clerk in the store recognized me when I went in the pay for the car wash. He'd been in school with Jon and my older sons, and he offered condolences. We talked a moment as he rang up my car wash and handed me the slip to sign for the debit card. I signed it and left.

During my morning break at work I pulled out my receipts to enter them in the checkbook register (yes, I do it the old-fashioned way; no Quicken for me--yet). As I did so I noticed that the slip for the car wash said $4.00. On the debit receipt, it said I'd paid $6.00 for the car wash.
I'd been had--while offering "condolences" the clerk blithely ripped me off for $2!

Now, it might have been an honest mistake. The car wash is usually $6 but with a fill-up there is a two dollar discount. He could have accidentally rung up the full amount and forgotten the discount, even though it was printed right on the car wash slip. Except...

This is the same store where a different clerk added her can of soda and candy bar to my receipt last summer. She rang her purchases in first but didn't total her sale; then rang up mine. When she handed me the debit receipt to sign, I looked at it and asked her why two bottles of water cost over $7.00. At first she looked at me like I was crazy and said that was just what it cost. So I added up the cost of the water, plus tax, for her. Then she admitted what she'd done and apologized. Was it truly an accident?

This morning's "mistake" ruined what had started out as a promising morning. The day turned gray, my nascent joy nipped back. It's silly to let such a small thing matter so much, isn't it? And yet there it is. The river boiled up and I spent most of the day at work trying to hold it in check.

In the afternoon a young man came in for an interview. His happy nature, clear eyes, and eagerness to find a job brightened the day and by the drive home the river was back in its banks, with sunlight glinting on the ripples.

But I sure did stop at that store and get my $2 back!


Susan at Stony River said...

I'm glad you got your $2 back! I'd guess that he was so distracted by offering condolences he just forgot the discount -- but then who knows.

I think you're so right about kids and grief. I lost my father when I was still in school, but my mother when I was a mother myself and nearly 40. My father's death was shattering, it took years to learn to cope with it. My mother's death cut just as deep, but I was stronger then, and had kids to be strong for.

Good luck staying afloat on that dark river -- I hope from now on it carries you to beautiful places far more often than it pulls you down.

Angela said...

Hey Granny Sue!

I noticed the spider webs on the flowers on my way out yesterday too! I almost stopped to take a picture of them but I didn't have time. It sure was a beautiful sight to see that Spring is trying to make her appearance!

I do hope that he didn't try to take you on that car wash but since it was a difference in price for the car wash and not his candy and pop that you were charged with like with the girl then I think that it was just a mistake. I always use my credit card and never go in the stores. I don't want to drang the kids in. And the funny thing is my 5 yr old boy says he doesn't want to go in because he doesn't like the smell of coffee! lol We don't drink coffee so.....

We woke up this morning to find that we are flooded in. Probably will be the entire weekend which hasn't happened in years.

Jai Joshi said...

Glad you got your money back, Sue. It was probably a mistake on his part but it's not acceptable that you should pay for it.

Life is full of these little details - little sorrows, little joys - and when the day ends it just depends on how we want to feel about it all that determines our happiness.

Best wishes,

Granny Sue said...

I'm glad to see that the consensus is that it was a mistake on his part, and not deliberate. I think that right now my feelings are so raw that small things rub too rough. My usual cheerful outlook is cloudy sometimes, so I'm thankful for my friends who help me see straight.

Angela, we have high water too, although so far we're not flooded in, thank goodness. Good thing is the rain has brought the gravel up above the mud! bad thing is that means the mud has washed off into the creek :-( We have got to get more stone on our hill, but it will have to wait for the tax return.

gigihawaii said...

keep your chin up!

Mary said...

Big hugs, darlin'. (this might be a double post -- not sure I did it right ;-)
I'm glad you had better experiences to improve the day, and that you stopped to make the correction. If it was a mistake, and I'm thinking it was, because he obviously cared about you, then no harm was done. If it was deliberate, you have helped to make the point that it is not a good practice.
I once overlooked an error in change, until a friend said she'd had the same problem at the same Burger King. I called the manager and told him, not to get my money (too late anyway) but to make the point that he had a problem in his store, and that he had a responsibility to teach good standards of customer service and honesty to his young employees. He seemed to get it . . . I hope so.

Brighid said...

Thinking it was an honest mistake that he didn't give you the discount, since he showed concern for you. i'm glad you went back to correct him.
We are all too stressed out here, and little things that never bothered before have gotten very bothersome. Keep on keep'n on.

Granny Sue said...

I was thinking tonight how oddly petty I sounded. I'm usually not like that, a sure sign of inner mess. I suppose we all have our moments of downright human-ness.

I did not mention my past history with this same guy several years ago when my checkbook was used by someone to write checks (at the last store he worked at) for over $300. He refused to do anything about it and threatened with his lawyer who, he said, he had on retainer. I did not tell him about the checks to be reimbursed, but to warn him he needed to tighten up on procedures because this young woman was signing with my HUSBAND's name. Believe me, she didn't look anything like
Larry :-)

I did not return to that store until the clerk (who was the manager) left. I had my doubts when I ran into him again at this store (where he is again manager), but decided to let it ride. So this incident brought back old memories and distrust.

Markin said...

I think I'd prefer to think it was a mistake simply because I'd rather believe in the general innate goodness of humanity -- yet I'd suggest remembering the old (Russian?) saying: "Trust, but verify ..." Sad.

Maggie and Roger said...

When Roger was so badly injured, we had one terrible health ordeal after another.
He had a slight misbeat to his heart that wasn't ever noticed before the accident and the injury caused it to catapult and become a life fighting ordeal. A slight bacteria would suddenly take off and become a raging infection.
I think the same could be true to our mental status as well. When we suffer an incredible injury that breaks our hearts I think it takes next to nothing to crack the fragile and slow to heal senses. I'm like you. I don't know if it was intentional or not but I'm glad the angel came for a job! :)
Love you Susanna!!

Granny Sue said...

Exactly, Maggie. Fragile is the perfect word to describe how emotions are right now. And Mario, I am usually right there with you on this--so you can see my state of mind is not where it usually is. I will get there, slowly, slowly, and there will be more setbacks along the way. Knowing that makes it easier, somehow.

Twisted Fencepost said...

I'm thinking that maybe he was thinking about how to offer condolences and just forgot. Atleast I'm hoping that was the case. But I'm glad you got your money back.
As for that other clerk....shame on her!

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