You know that phrase about not seeing the forest for the trees? I’m not sure I see the forest or the trees. I’ll be walking along, with kids because when am I not with kids, and saying “Do you have your shoes? Is your shirt on backwards? Did I leave my keys in the car?” and then before you know it I’m knee deep in poison ivy or wondering how long it will take the imprint of bark to leave my forehead.
I just miss details or main ideas or maybe I’m so convinced I know what’s going on I never wonder what is actually happening.
Parker and I were running errands and I had one of those awkward stops at a traffic light where there are people in neon vests collecting money for charity but you’re not sure if you can fumble around for money fast enough before the light turns green and you’re also not sure who they’re collecting for or if they just grabbed a milk jug and a safety vest and headed to the closest intersection for spending money. Being low on coordination and mental energy I didn’t donate and then felt guilty.
So several hours later we are on our way home. Up ahead I see neon vests reflecting in the summer sun and I AM GOING TO right my wrong. I’m going to show my son compassion and charity and hand-eye coordination. I’ll dig for money at the next traffic light and have it ready by the time we hit the intersection where I can already see an impressive number of neon vests. What a dedicated crew, out in numbers on this hot Saturday so they can make it to every driver that wants to donate! I will support their efforts this time, traffic light timers be damned!
We slow to the awaited intersection, donation already in hand, conscience ready to be cleared and I roll down my window putting on a big smile for this charitable bunch. Hmm, how unfortunate that I’m the only one planning to donate this time. Not a single other car at this busy intersection seems to have their window down. These poor charitable neon vest wearers are so bored at their station that they are picking up trash on the corner! How can everyone ignore their plight? How am I the only one who thought ahead? Look at me prepared and carrying spare change for the needy, I’m writing this down somewhere when I get home and reminding myself of that one time when I was the one who actually had it together. Maybe a blog post about the travesty of turning the other cheek. I will be the one car at this light to offer a glimmer of hope on this day void of a cool breeze and charitable community members.
My window is down, my money is in hand and just as I begin to wonder why every single staff member for this mystery charity would rather clean up the curb than take my donation, Parker interrupts my deep thoughts.
“Mom, why do people leave trash on the side of the road and why do those people have to ride in a van to pick it up?”
The light turns green, triggering some light bulb (that is rarely used) to go off in my head as I turn the corner and see the van in mention. Their vehicle belongs to our county correctional programs. It’s clients load the van for a ride home, probably discussing the first time someone tried to give them a donation for their probationary work.
At least we know the criminals in our area have too much integrity to take money from a motorist. Or maybe they’ve just learned to be highly suspicious of people who present as slightly insane.
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