Thirty Days Hath September

I’m a girl on a budget. The budget is tight, very tight. I’ve learned to manage, but there’s not a lot of room for error. Last week I ended up driving a bit more than expected. Run out to Richfield to pick up a library book (where were you, Lisa?), drive to Maplewood (North) to pick up Kelly, drive to Minneapolis to the Cabooze, drive to Eagan to pick up Simon. It was a lot of driving that I don’t do normally and my Gus is a huge gas hog.

On Saturday morning, after Simon and I left Christian’s birthday party, he said to me, “Auntie Livia, you’re almost out of gas.” This, from his carseat in the back. I asked him how he knew that and he said, “the needle is pointing at E”. I hadn’t realized he could see the needle from where he was, much less know what it meant.

I said, “well, I sure hope we don’t run out of gas, what would we do?”

“Well, we would pull onto the side of the road and you would call a tow truck. The tow truck would come and it would use the chain to hook up to your car and then they would tow us to Grandma Kaye’s”, was his exact reply.

The kid cracks me up.

I told him that what I would actually do is call Pa (my dad) and have him come get us because he has a tow chain on his truck and if we needed a tow, that would be a lot cheaper. Of course, he’d probably just run get us some gas…but that’s a less exciting conclusion.

We had this conversation the rest of the way to my parent’s house.

I stayed there on Saturday and drove home, then stayed in all day Sunday. Yesterday morning, I was leaving for work and remembered that I needed gas. Monday mornings are NEVER good for me, so I checked the remaining miles on the tank and it said “LOW RANGE”. Wow, I’ve never seen that before. It usually gives the remaining miles left before I run out, 42 miles, 67 miles, etc. I was a little nervous because I was headed straight to work and then would get gas on my way home. Overall, about 6-7 miles to drive before filling up.

At some point, I’ll have to check the manual and see at what point it gives that warning. (God bless the internet, I just googled it and my manual is posted online. I read it and it hits LOW RANGE once it dips below 40 miles. So, I still had a ways to go).

Now, you’re probably wondering why it came to this? Why didn’t I just stop, say Saturday, when it was low? Because, I needed to get paid to get gas. In addition to guzzling, Gus has a huge tank and it is usually about $75 a fill up. I had it in my head that I was getting paid on Monday, therefore, Monday=gas.

Once I got to the gas station, before getting out, something, some internal sensor, made me pull out my phone and check my bank balance. No change. Shit! I didn’t get paid. I was frantically trying to figure out what went wrong. Suddenly, it hit me.

Thirty Days hath September,
April, June and November,
All the rest have thirty-one,
Save February, with twenty-eight days clear,
And twenty-nine each leap year. 

I actually said that to myself, realizing that January has thirty-ONE days and I was not, in fact, getting paid until today. Which is how I paid for my gas with a credit card. Awesome.

Do You Know The Way To…Tamarack Village?

This morning, on my way to work, I stopped to get gas.

Yes, people, on my way TO work, I left enough time to stop and get gas. Get over it.

I actually needed gas last night, but when I left work at 7:30pm, it was only 9 degrees. NINE degrees. First time in single digits this winter, and naturally, I picked that day to be wearing a sweater dress and tights. So I decided to skip gas last night in favor of this morning, when, though I couldn’t be sure of the temperature (a balmy 12 degrees), I could at least make certain I was dressed appropriately.

So, there I am at my local PDQ. I’m humming along to the Christmas music piping through the overhead speakers when the guy behind me pulls up in a truck, gets out, starts his gas, then LEAPS back into his truck as though he was in danger of hypothermia. I stood there in a coat, no gloves, no hat, no scarf, and all I thought was “wuss.”

Then, while my thoughts were drifting to Ella Fitzgerald singing “Sleigh Ride” (I really prefer the Johnny Mathis version) a little red car zoomed up next to me and the woman driving leaned out her open window and said, “Miss?” Right away, I was pleased. I dislike being called ma’am.

I leaned around the gas pump to see her better as she said, “can you tell me how to get to Tamarack Village?” I said that I could and she said, “Oh, thank goodness! I’m from Canon Falls and am meeting my daughter at her work. I am so very lost and her directions don’t make any sense at all.”

I gave her the most direct route I could, which did put her on the back roads, rather than the freeway. I assured her she was very close and if she drove for longer than 5-7 minutes then she had missed the shopping center. She reached out of her car window and patted me on the arm and said, “Thank you, dear, and God Bless. Happy Holidays!” Then she waved at me and drove off.

Ever since, I haven’t been able to stop smiling. I helped her, she blessed me and we both parted, feeling good. That’s exactly how it is supposed to be. Sometimes, I think it is far too easy to forget that people are good and simple things go a long way. We get too caught up in reading about anger and fear and darkness that is a part of human nature and we start to doubt the essential goodness of mankind.

While I may be waxing philosophical about what amounted to giving directions, it made me think. That simple interaction with a stranger changed the course of my day. I am happy to let it, because it leaves me feeling good. However, far too often, I let interactions change my day for the worse. I let stupid driving make me angry. I get annoyed when the person in front of me doesn’t make the token effort to hold the door. I get frustrated with people at work for a myriad of reasons.

I’d like to let those directions be a metaphor. As though some higher power was giving me directions to a happier life. Why do I let things annoy me? It only frustrates ME, the other person can walk away unscathed, while I carry that frustration around like an albatross, feeling its weight for the rest of my day. I’m going to try, for the holiday season (and hopefully it will become a practice and continue) to change my attitude when I get annoyed and frustrated. When I happens, I’ll turn my attitude around and focus on being cheery and joyful. I’m not saying I won’t get bothered, because I will, but I won’t let it stick. When it gets hard I’ll just think to myself “thank you, dear, and God bless”.

I love this time of year and I’d like to walk around feeling like I do right now, all day, every day.

That’s my goal. Christmas cheer to the point of making you sick. Wish me luck! (And if I get lost…maybe you could point the way?)