Saturday, August 8, 2009

"I Trust Her."

The plan today was to go to a picnic, socialize, play a game, eat too much, and go home. All of those things happened, but there were a few additional details.

The picnic is an annual get-together of three local groups of people who are blind and visually impaired. I'm not good at guessing numbers, but I'd say there were close to a hundred folks in attendance. I'm a member of one of the chapters, and was looking forward to getting better acquainted with a few more people today. I had also invited a guest.

Shortly after our arrival, one of my acquaintances asked if I could help her run an errand. She had arranged for some song sheets to be printed in large print and Braille, and they were ready for her to pick up... at the downtown Seattle Public Library. "Well, okay," I said. "But you'll have to tell me how to get there."

This gal -- I'll call her Hostess -- works in Seattle and is very familiar with the bus routes and streets of the city. I rarely go into Seattle except to visit two or three specific places. The traffic (and my tremendous ignorance) makes me nervous, as I assume that everyone else knows exactly where they're going and I'm only in their way. But as I said, Hostess knows her way around, and she promised to tell me where to go. Since Guest didn't know anyone else at the picnic, she came with us.

When we left the picnic area, it made me a wee bit concerned when she said to head south instead of north. But, I knew we had to get over a hill and to the freeway, so I followed Hostess's instructions and soon saw the freeway. Traffic got bad, but we inched our way downtown. Once, we made a wrong turn and had to backtrack, but then were right on target.

"There's a passenger drop-off just up here by the door," Hostess told me. "If you leave your flashers on, you can wait here."

"Sounds good," I replied. "If I have to move, I'll circle the block and come back here to meet you."

Simple, right? She got me where we needed to be, and all that Guest and I had to do was wait.

And wait.

And... wait.

Honestly, I didn't look at my watch once, but I think we waited more than an hour. Seriously. No one came to tow my car or give me a ticket, so I kept my emergency flashers on and waited. This is the interesting part of the story.

Since we had been led to believe that this was a simple errand, Guest and I both assumed that Hostess would be gone about ten minutes. When we'd been there for half an hour, Guest began to wonder aloud what was wrong. Now, I don't know Guest well enough to know if she was serious, but she asked me if I thought Hostess had had a medical emergency. I thought that was kind of far-fetched, but it could happen. Since I hadn't heard any sirens, I assured Guest that our friend was probably fine. Then Guest worried that Hostess had gotten lost or gone out another door or had gotten distracted and forgot we were waiting for her. Guest even suggested that we should go look for her to see what was the matter. She was serious, and that's when I finally got perturbed.

"Guest, none of those things have happened. I trust Hostess, and she would not forget us or get distracted. She knows this city and this library much better than I do, so she's not lost. If we park the car somewhere to go look for her, I don't know where to begin looking. Maybe the person who was giving her the papers is busy, or maybe the papers got moved and they're trying to find them. But I trust Hostess, and she'll be back."

People think I'm patient. Maybe I am, but mostly it's just that I don't take ownership of problems that aren't my own. Sure, we were missing the picnic, but there was a good reason for it. Maybe those song sheets were important, maybe not, but that wasn't my decision. As we waited and waited in the car, I pondered the little building blocks that had led me to trust Hostess and make this trip:

* Hostess is very bright and asks insightful questions. She thinks about the big picture and is able to analyze information quickly.
* Hostess had a hand in planning this picnic. She would not do anything to distract from the social networking purposes of the gathering.
* Hostess is fully capable of getting wherever she needs to go, and has obviously been to this library before. If she needed any assistance, she would ask.

Therefore, since there was nothing I could do to help or speed things up, my job was to wait. Calmly.

Sure enough, when Hostess came out of the building with Librarian in tow, she was full of apologies for the time it had taken. They'd had multiple printer problems (bad codes, ran out of toner, etc.) and they'd been scrambling to try to get the job done despite all those obstacles. Being patient and calm was the best course of action, and that's all I was responsible to do, except for driving the car.

Maybe I should have titled this post, "Minding My Own Business." That's one of the lessons I've been learning, but I hadn't expected it to be reinforced today.


P.S. Do I need to point out that the person who was guiding me happens to be visually impaired and has never driven a car? And I trust her.

3 comments:

addhumorandfaith said...

Oh, how I wish I could have an "injection" of your patience. My personality is the exact opposite. When I was matron at the jail (reporting to my husband, the sheriff), the jail commander complained to Hubby that I had "interfered" in a problem she was working on. Hubby told her, "Don't ever tell Sandra a problem, unless you want help fixing it. Because, I guarantee she will try to fix it for you!"

I am going to try to take your example to heart.

btw, Guest and I would have been in that building looking for Hostess 20 minutes after she didn't show! Sigh.

Anonymous said...

I think you should tighten this up a bit and send it in - it seems like something I would read in the newspaper - one of those people articles. I especially liked the PS at the end. Much better to go through all that you and she did and then hit the reader with a whammo at the end. Made me rethink everything I just read.

Katharine said...

Sandra, thanks for your thoughtful response. If you'd gone into that huge building, however, you might still be looking!

Anon., thank you for your appraisal. I will consider editing this for general consumption, but it also covers the theme of my fiction works-in-progress. Good to hear your thoughts.