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On the stories of "strangers"

I'm a sucker for good stories. It's a human thing, we've been telling ourselves stories for thousands of years. We told stories way before we even devised a way of preserving them.There's something poetic about the frailty of those first stories.

I like Hollywood stories, full of larger-than-life personalities, characters whose lives impact thousands and millions of people. But there's something to be said about "smaller" stories, about common people, about the inner struggle in every one of us.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle—Definitely NOT Plato

I've been reading Outback Overflight and Go West Young Woman since they began. I'd usually tell you it's not my cup of tea, but I enjoy reading them. I am inspired by them. I want to live a story like that.

But it's not like I can just go for a walk, wish for a life-changing story and wait for it to call me out of the blue. I believe I have to go do something else and the story will be right under my nose, where I won't see it until after it's done. I wonder if The road to Wikimania 2015 will be it.

So sorry I blocked your driveway. Distracted I guess, NEVER AGAIN

Two Sunday mornings ago I woke early, my sons were still on their road trip, and THERE WAS NO BUTTER OR ENGLISH MUFFINS to accompany the 12 eggs-3 potatoes- heavy cream- onions- Swiss and American cheese- plus whatever leftover steak or beef -casserole I now make on Saturday nights, to make breakfast easier and quicker for my husband. (Heat one chunk for one minute in the microwave with two slices of turkey bacon, which I now have to help him remember how to use.)

I had not slept well, but thought perhaps I could sneak off quickly to the grocery store while he was still sleeping, a hand-written sign next to his side of the marital bed, where every night I place the name of the following day (which he no longer comprehends), then WORK or NO WORK and the hour he needs to wake up. (The time reference doesn't seem to matter either anymore.) On NO WORK days, I write SLEEP and some days he does, until noon. Weekends are confusing.

On that particular day, I was drinking coffee and watching the parking lot next to our house fill up with the 8am Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel, weighing in my mind how quickly I could dash off to the store and back so that all would be predictable in his Alzheimer's world. However, I am not a morning person.

Three somewhat menacing large metal signs were recently posted regarding non-church related parking, including exorbitant towing and storage fees, upwards of a few hundred dollars. Earlier in the week, I had seen two cops parked and asked about the signs. They explained since it was church property and that the main church was undergoing renovations, the chapel would be seeing more use. I told them about the late night drug deals, prostitution and drunken events. They seemed shocked, said I should call them then. Yeah, right, at 3am... that's worked so well in the past.

Whatever, as the kids say, rolling their eyes, like I once did the equivilent of, in my teens or twenties. So, I decided after one cup of coffee to go for it and quickly got dressed. My husband was sleeping under four blankets and a down comforter despite the temperature already 80 degrees out. And humid. Air conditioning turned off in the room.

Foggy-headed, I grabbed purse, glasses, and car keys after leaving ANOTHER NOTE on the kitchen counter, despite knowing he would not understand it, would be worried and agitated if no one was home. HAD A BAD FEELING, but proceeded to be gone less than 15 minutes, praying he would stay asleep. And that is when I saw a silver Honda SUV blocking our driveway. Mass was in full swing, but I was annoyed and walked over to the chapel, entered and asked three separate men quietly what I should do.

Shoulder shrugs. "It's not my car," when I showed them the license plate number, make and model of the car, as they sat in air conditioning, and the priest in his green robes was starting the sermon. No help, no compassion. Walked back home disappointed and had more coffee, then I got mad. I'm talking berserker mad, so I called the police.

In two minutes, a patrol car pulled up and I greeted a young cop. He wrote down everything then called headquarters as to how to proceed. This took so long a man walking two dogs sauntered over and got involved, said they block his mother's driveway all the time and she's handicapped. Told the cop, "It's not right. You guys should be giving them tickets. It happens ALL THE TIME."

It was at this point my husband had gotten up and dressed, saw ME TALKING WITH TWO MEN, and flipped out, unbeknownst to me until later. Instead of just giving the person who blocked my driveway a ticket for sixty-five dollars, the cop ASKED ME WHAT THE INSIDE OF THE CHAPEL WAS LIKE...if there was a vestibule or would he just be walking straight into CHURCH. I said, "Small, very small narthex but doors are open to the whole service."

I'm NOT thinking like Jesus or what he would do. I had seen a beach bag on the front seat, all ready for a nice day at a pool party, or a lake, or the ocean after church AND IT MADE ME ANGRIER. Cop takes his sweet time going over to chapel. Dog-walking guy leaves, shaking his head. I go back inside and my husband is meticulously cleaning the cat litter boxes. After a few texts to my daughter, she volunteers to drive over with butter and I talk my husband into having a wholewheat waffle instead of an English muffin.

He is delighted to see my daughter, amazed she knew he was out of the butter, somewhat confused regarding the cop, the car blocking our driveway, and the dog-walking guy. I was catching up with my daughter when there was a knock on the side door. My husband, sweeping the floor and still dealing with the litter boxes, comes into the kitchen with a bouquet of flowers in one hand and a full cat-poop scooper in the other, saying, "Some lady just gave me these and was very sorry. She seemed very nice."

Included in the flowers was a card, scribbled in half-blue, the pen running out of ink during the word DISTRACTED, so that she switched to black, in atrocious penmanship. Alstroemeria and a few roses, which I put in a vase while explaining to my husband I'm generally a nice person, I'm often sorry about a lot of things and I buy flowers for other people, but I would never park on a Sunday morning blocking someone's driveway. If she had stopped and apologized first, I might have said "I'd rather have a stick of butter." He laughed.

I somewhat enjoyed seeing the flowers every day, but truthfully, as the bouquet began to wilt dropping petals and pollen, it felt even better to throw them out. In case you're thinking She should have been grateful for free flowers or some other platitude, bear in mind the incident was illegal, absurd and I spent the rest of the week explaining to my husband why someone else gave me flowers and had to reassure him he hadn't forgotten my birthday, over and over.

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