This weekend, my friend and I were kicked out of a local coffee shop. It all stemmed from a misunderstanding. We’d agreed to meet at this certain spot but each of us had envisioned a different location during the planning stage. When she was nearly twenty minutes late, I called her cell. “You’re at a different coffee shop, aren’t you?” She said yes, and after we sorted out the miscommuncation, she agreed to find her way to me just several blocks away. Problem was, she’d just bought her $4 cup of brew and didn’t really feel like tossing it out or buying a different one. So she brought it into the second coffee shop and joined me. As a paying customer, I felt that, though not an ideal situation, it should be okay for her to finish up her “competitor’s coffee” while I drank my cup of “legitimate” coffee. After all, it had come to be as part of a misunderstanding. A while later, however, the barista came over to us and said the owner had been watching us on the security cameras from his home and if my friend didn’t buy something from his store, we’d have to leave. Full from her coffee, she really didn’t want anything else at the moment. I was still sipping the coffee I’d bought there so was surprised by his insistent tone. In the end, we left and finished our conversation in the car before parting ways, but not without feeling a bit conflicted over what had just occurred. We understood the owner’s contention to some degree, but the way it all went down felt a little cold.
Later in the evening, I went to an event downtown Fargo with some friends, as well as to some post-show musical events that followed. A lot of those walking from post-show to post-show stopped to buy hot coffee at a local coffee shop to warm them. Not having done the “post show tour” before, I was surprised when, upon walking into one of the establishments that was hosting a musician, my coffee was swiftly removed from my hands and tossed. “I’ll take that for you,” said the restaurant owner before I could fully process my offense.
Twice in one day, I’d been nabbed in one way or another by the java patrol. Twice in one day, I’d indirectly and unintentionally broken the rules. Needless to say, at that moment I contemplated writing up a label bearing the words “rabble-rousing mama” and plastering it across my forehead.
This morning, I settled on tea. It’s a much safer drink, I’ve found.
Seriously, though, we need rules in our lives. We would live in complete chaos if not for rules. But I tend to be someone who needs very much to understand why the rule exists. When I know why it’s been instituted, I am happy to follow it, knowing it’s likely for my own good or the good of the larger community. This weekend, however, I felt very much in sync with my children, who often ask, “But WHY, Mom?” “Because I said so.” I don’t like giving that answer, but every once in a while, in a weak moment, it slips out. And sometimes it comes out because, well, just because the situation calls for it. Yes, humble pie can be quite bitter.
In both of the above situations, however, I was disappointed because the insinuation each time was that either I or my friend had done something intentionally wrong. And that’s the key word — intentional. I had not set out to be a source of friction in either case.
These situations call to mind the time the sample-giving lady at Walmart slapped my hand when I reached out for a carrot. Apparently, she’d heard my daughter’s voice and thought it was her hand reaching out for the carrot, not mine. Also apparently, she and her co-workers recently had been advised against giving samples to children — probably fearing a lawsuit if a child were to choke on something. **sigh** and OUCH!
So, again, I’m not arguing against the need for rules, but I am arguing for compassion in enforcing them, especially toward the unintended offender. I only hope I model the way I’d like to be treated in such situations when the circumstances call for it.
All this leads to my heading: revising the rules. A few days back I’d mentioned my desire to reduce my blog entries to three days a week during Lent. Over the course of the last couple days, as I’ve continued my book reading for the 2009 book challenge, I’ve come across so many good passages I want to share that I’ve decided that on the “in between days,” I might allow myself short postings containing some of the meatier quotes…and that’s all. In other words, my Lenten commitment to spend a little less time on the computer, and, thus, blogging, will remain, but with the slightly revised, self-imposed rule that “off” days might bring some posted words, but not my own.
With that explained, I’ll end with a slice of one of those passages from the aforementioned book, Redeemed, by Heather King:
“I’m not on a spiritual path because I’m so spiritual. I’m on a spiritual path because I’m so not spiritual.” (p.4)
Well, I happen believe we are all spiritual, but I understand this line to mean that I am on the spiritual journey because my spirit is in constant need of attention and refinement and, yes, revision, too.