Friday, January 23, 2009
"Sorry for the delay, m'am . . . ."
If I had heard that one more time, I do believe I would have let loose with a primal scream loud enough to wake the dead - a category which would surely include most of the folk who were in the waiting room of the VW Dealership Service Department.
It started off easily enough. I needed to have my car inspected. You know my car. My baby. My little 'galactica blue' VW convertible bug.
So, I brought it to the VW service center at the Dover, DE place where I bought her four years ago for her 55,000 mile check and to get her ready to pass inspection. The annoying little "check engine" light had been coming on and off and I did have a problem with my battery a few weeks ago, so it didn't come as a surprise when they told me that I needed a new battery.
The bill came to just under $200. Ca-ching!
I had just left the parking lot - after 2.5 hours in the service station waiting room - when the 'check engine' light came on again. I called immediately from my cell phone and was assured that it would probably take a few 'cycles' to clear.
It didn't. Give it a few days, they said. Alternative? Drive it back it and it would cost me $56 just for the computer diagnostic - exclusive of what it would cost to fix what they found wrong.
I decided to give it a few days.
When I took my car in to be inspected on Wednesday afternoon, wouldn't you know that I picked the one day when the State Inspector was there to inspect the inspectors. After an hour and a half wait, I learned that my car had failed inspection.
I felt like a proud mother whose spirit had been crushed by the high expectations of my beautiful daughter. Failed? No car of mine FAILS!!??!!
This time, I called the VW Dealership in Summit, NJ. I figured I was already in for $56 bucks. After an hour wait, they told me that there was an electrical short in the ignition.
Three hours (for a total of four hours) and $379 later, my car was ready for inspection.
Said inspection would cost me $78. Seventy-eight dollars? What do they do, for pity's sake, that would cost $78 whole dollars????
Ca-ching! Ca-ching! I'm not doing the math. I don't want to get depressed.
I'm set now for two more years, but SHEESH! So much for my supposed day off. Being in the waiting room of a car dealership from 7:45 AM to noon, and then over at the Inspection Center until 1:00 PM is not exactly my idea of relaxation and fun.
The good news is that, while I was waiting, I read "Left To Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust" by Immaculee Ilbagiza. Yes, I read the whole thing. In one sitting.
It's an amazing story. In 1994, Imaculee was 22 years old and home for Easter Break from her second year of college when the Genocide began. She survived by hiding in a Hutu Pastor's tiny bathroom for 91 days with seven other starving women.
Imaculee's story is simply and straightforwardly told, which is what makes it so compelling. I am fascinated by the nature of prejudice - the Tutsis were hated by the Hutus because they were taller and lighter skinned, and so favored by the German and Belgium colonizers of their country who helped them become better educated.
The hatred the Hutus held for those who colonized them was easily transferred onto the Tutsis. I'm still not certain, however, of the tipping point that lead to the genocide. Supposedly, it was the death of the Hutu President, which seemed like an assassination, but it had been building for quite a while before that.
It was as if the air got wild one day and then the genocide began. Sort of the way it has always happened.
Imaculee's faith, however, is amazing. Humbling. Awe-inspiring. What is fascinating to me is that the elements of the spirituality of suffering are almost universal and have so many parallels.
When you buy the book, portions of the proceeds go to fund the LEFT TO TELL Charitable Organization which helps children in Africa. So, go. Buy the book. Read it. You won't be disappointed.
I left the inspection center and, after spending an hour in the gym, I came home and organized kitchen cabinets and my cookbooks. Then, I cleaned out my cupboards, organizing the canned soups and vegetables I knew I wouldn't be using into two boxes to bring to the food pantry tomorrow. I am ashamed at the small box of expired cans of soup, vegetables and fruit I had to throw out.
Tomorrow, I take down the Christmas tree and decorations. It's time.
I plan to start reading, "A Long way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier" by Ishmael Beah before my head hits the pillow and I close my eyes tonight.
This is the story of a suffering of another sort - how to forgive yourself when you have been forced to do evil, how to regain your humanity and finally, how to heal.
Can you tell? I'm already getting ready for Lent.
Truth be told, these two books put any annoyance or discomfort of my day in proper perspective. And, made my day off worth while.
Funny how other people's stories can do that, right?