Whoever said no good deed will go unpunished was onto something. For the best laid schemes o’ not only Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley. I went to campus to make a single phone call to a student. Having started God’s day with only two hours of sleep under my belt, I was hungry and thirsty when I got there and so decided to stop at the bookstore for a bottle of Cran-Apple juice.
Who can say where the wrong turn actually began. Was it before or after dropping M’Dear at Drama Camp? Or, was it before or after stopping at Smith’s for the next week’s supply of snacks? Or before or after snapping a photo of the two-seater garden glider on sale for 40% off out front? Certainly M’Dear’s being rejected at the 2nd camp for their having reached their 300-head capacity came after, as did test-driving the Escape Hybrid, eating the last of what should have been award-winning cantaloupe, attending Bible Study, and hearing the note of true aggression enter into the dogs’ usual rough-housing.
Whenever the regrettable turn was taken, it led me, at precisely the wrong moment, to offer a suggestion to the person in line ahead of me in the college bookstore. The following gaffe took place in Spanish:
Me: Do you have a cellphone with internet access?
Customer ahead of me (after seeking clarification from the woman standing with him): No.
Me: Well, if you did, you’d be able to look up words on it and save the expense of the dictionary. Not that all professors allow cellphone use in their classes…
Foot in mouth began tasting a bit salty at about this point in the not exactly reciprocal conversation as the shorter, older Latina beside the man in front of me, looked at me, smiled that pitying smile of near-tolerance and all but imperceptibly moved a hair’s breath closer to the register to draw attention to the worlds’ distance apart that we in fact already were. A full sneer would have been unnecessary for I am, if little else, sensitive enough at least to know when I’m speaking in impossibilities.
No, I hadn’t taken the time to take in all the details available before opening my mouth. I hadn’t noted the GED Preparation Manual in his hand, the south-of-the-border clothing and footwear; nor the cultural cloaking device that I’d unwittingly trespassed. That is, I hadn’t given myself to acknowledge all these details until it was well beyond too late. She paid for his materials and the two left, after a brief exchange with the cashier who, though a warm acquaintance of mine, felt compelled to do what she could in the direction of swaddling them in a cocoon of familiar questions comparing where she and they were from in order to neutralize my remarks which, in hindsight, may have felt like the psychological equivalent of an old-school wax job. Honestly. A cell phone with internet access! I might just as well have asked if he’d planned to purchase a small chain of financial institutions on Wall Street while he awaited his green card. I guess I can chalk this up to preparation for the convocation presentation on building intercultural competency. Ugh.
Surely an antidote exists in Pastor’s Word of Hope message from this evening’s Bible Study. He focussed on verses 30- end in Luke chapter 12 and Ecclesiastes 7:1-7, encouraging us to stick it out and let God build our faith.