I left the house this morning in a bit of a rush, having remembered at the last second – which is typical for me – that the gas level in my car was low and I wasn't sure if I would make it all the way in without stopping. I had to sacrifice making a lunch in order to leave 10 minutes early, which would have given me plenty of time to stop if I needed to. I had about 20 miles left to go when my car dinged to tell me that I really should consider Refueling. There was a gas station about 5 miles up the road, and while prices are typically more expensive there than where I work, I decided that since Car was dinging with possibly more than 20 miles left before I reached my destination, and with the temperature gauge on the dash reading a balmy 1°, I better pull in and fill up.
As I pulled up to a pump I ignored a small feeling that I should move to another one. It would prove to be a mistake (or would it?). I quickly stopped the car, turned off the engine and jumped out to start the fueling process. I tried not to think about the bitter cold that made it feel as though the layers of skin on my face and hands were stripped away as I fumbled out my card and swiped it into the machine. The display was taking a long time to load up due to the sub-zero wind chill temperatures; I had my hands jammed into my coat pockets and was doing a tiny holy-shit-I-am-cold dance while my eyes bored holes into the screen. Slowly it revealed the next step of instructions for me to enter thy pass code to proceed. I started to punch in the numbers, and even though I heard it beep it did not display the asterisk on the screen serving as my visual confirmation of acceptance. The cold. The damn cold. I continued on, trusting the beeps, and when I hit the ENTER button I found that it was frozen solid. It would NOT budge.
Rather than accept the fact that the button was not working, my slight OCD kicked in and I continued to feebly smash my finger down onto the accursed thing for about a minute, mumbling to myself about my luck and why the hell did the damn thing have to be frozen. I did not want to admit defeat. Finally a voice popped into my head telling me that I really needed to hurry it up because my window of time that I had before being late for work was closing. I walked to the other side of the pump to check that ENTER button, a fleeting thought crossing my mind that maybe every ENTER button was frozen in a ploy by the gas station to get you come inside, but that was functioning as smoothly as ever.
I hopped in my car and pulled around to the other side of the pumps. The display on the new pump seemed to be working a little better, and I thought I was on track again. After punching in my code I grabbed the gas nozzle and put it in the tank, waiting for the “One moment please….” to disappear and be replaced with whatever the next phrase is (now that I think about it, I'm not sure I've ever really paid attention to what that actually is). After 3 minutes, with the phrase still on the screen, and my patience level rapidly falling, it finally disappeared and told me that I needed to “See the Cashier”.
I yelled a choice phrase at the machine, turned and speed walked into the building. The cashier was finishing up with a customer but she must have read something in my face because she warily asked me right away how she could help. My voice catching in desperation I blurted out that the pump was telling me to see the cashier and I really needed to get to work. She told me that it hadn’t read my card, so I exasperatedly told her to just put $10 on the pump as I waived my card at her. She then asked if the nozzle was off the handle, and I said yes… to which she responded that she wouldn't be able to put a pre-paid amount on the pump if the nozzle was not hung up.
It was too much. The culmination of the events just frayed too much on my nerves and I snapped. I abruptly turned away from her, dropping a “Mother F*cker” bomb as I stormed out the door. I never do that. Ever. While those close to me know that F*ck is actually a favorite word of mine that I use quite frequently, I am very conscious of when and where I use it, and who I am around. I never want to be the cause of making anyone feel uncomfortable, and so I conduct myself in public very tactfully. Except for that moment.
I reached the pump and was at this point seeing the world through a haze of red rage. I swiped my card back through the reader and fortunately this time it read (very fortunate, because I likely would have imploded if it hadn’t). The $10 put on by the cashier had applied, and so I began to pump the gas, willing it to go as fast as possible. Once it reached the $9 mark it slowed to a snail crawl. I started yelling at the thing, knowing there was nothing I could do but feeling like if I yelled it would make me feel better. It didn’t. It just fed the rage. Finally the mark hit $10 and I sealed everything up to hop in the car and get the hell on the road.
I had enough sense to know that I didn’t want to tear ass out of the gas station and put anyone at risk, so I did sanely drive to the main road. I looked at the clock to see that 15 minutes had gone by. I was now officially running 5 minutes late. I was seething with anger, questioning why the series of events had to unfold the way they did, thinking that if I would have just pulled up to a different pump, none of this would have happened and I’d be on time.
There I was, holding on to and continuously feeding these negative and defeatists notions, when I happened to look out the driver’s side window. I was met with an absolutely beautiful ice rainbow in the sky. In that moment all of the negative feelings washed away, and I was left with that sense of awe that I always feel when looking out at the beauty of Nature. I took in the rolling fields and distant tree lined horizon, the rising sun, the beautiful pale blue winter sky, and the ice rainbow, shining in its brilliance, reminding me in its soft, subtle way that life is better when you smile.
I was able then to laugh at myself and the situation I’d just gone through. I felt chagrin at having lost it in the station and I mentally apologized to the cashier. I recognized that I was the owner of my reactions, and I was choosing to be negative. I did not want that – I do not like to be angry. And so I stopped. I smiled at the rainbow, and I continued on my way, lighter and fuller.
When lunch time came I left to go grab a sandwich and fill up the rest of my tank. When I pulled into the gas station I saw that every single pump had an “out of service” bag on it. Every single one. I didn’t even get angry, just accepted that I’d have to get gas on the way home instead. I walked in to get my Subway veggie sandwich, and saw that their credit card machine was down and they were only able to accept cash. At that I slightly faltered, wondering where I was going to go for food (you may recall that I’m a vegetarian working in a slightly remote, very fried-meat-food oriented area), when I remembered these little machines called ATMs and saw there was one in the corner, happily functioning. I got my sandwich, smiled to all the workers, and tried my best to project positivity, knowing that with the credit card machine down and none of the pumps working they were being met with enough negatives.
As I pulled away and headed back toward work, a large bird flying in the sky caught my attention. At first I thought it was a crow, but as I neared it I saw that it was way too big to be one. I had just gotten alongside it when it dipped its body toward me and I was able to see its white head. A Bald Eagle. I knew then without a doubt that the events of today were lessons, and I had soared through them with the sun on my face and the wind dancing in my hair.
Remember that life is what we make it. We choose how we react and how we chose perpetuates our environment. How will you choose? Will you be a victim, or will you be a survivor?
Stormily Yours, with much Love and Light!