How or Why and Peace of Mind

Last night I dashed out to the local CVS to get some candy. I admit it. A quick trip, three miles or less.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a car, different make but similar style and color to mine, parked in the same corner I was headed. Then I noticed something else. The license plate number was almost identical, save for one number. Instead of an eight, hers was a zero.

A second later the driver of this car appeared. An attractive yet otherwise unremarkable young woman carrying a prescription and another small bag (maybe candy, who knows?). Yet it got me to thinking.

What if she’d just robbed the place? In the rush and panic that would ensue, what if someone mistook my car for hers?

Now that’s my active imagination,  no doubt. Here’s the problem: these things do happen. Given that she had long blonde hair and was clearly a good twenty years younger than me, chances are I wouldn’t suffer the worst. Still, in the world we live in today, I could.

The odds are worse for minorities, and we’ve all seen the stories. I remember one particularly troubling report on a news magazine, perhaps Dateline, of a man who was imprisoned for nearly 30 years for a crime he didn’t commit. Some might say, well, maybe he didn’t commit that crime, but surely he was guilty of something just as bad. Only in this case, there was no evidence of that.

He could have gotten out on parole years earlier if he’d confessed and shown remorse, but he refused, saying the only thing he had left was his name. I hope he was able to find peace once he was released, but odds were still against him after all those years of incarceration.

I hope others helped him find dignity, because he’d lived a long time without it.

We learn when we’re young that life isn’t fair. Yet we can’t live life with a constant awareness of our alibi for that moment or our excuse for doing something others might find odd. That, in and of itself, is going to raise red flags for some.

Why are our lives at times devoid of justice and peace? I don’t know. I don’t understand the imbalance in the world. But I do believe in a God who is just, even if we can’t comprehend how or why.

And that’s my peace of mind.

Photo Credit: ©Anna –

Lost & Found & the True Culprit

It’s with immense relief I can say I finally found my lost pair of glasses.

Ironically, they were very near to where I was long certain I’d find them, yet somehow I’d never looked in that particular odd spot. I finally pulled out a flashlight, and the extra amount of light did the trick.

Most of the time I wear contact lenses, and the glasses are a back-up. On occasion, however, they are necessary, and while thankfully I hadn’t had dire need of them in the two months since I lost them, the time would have come.

Piggy bank managerWith my prescription, it is impossible for me to get glasses for less than $300. Don’t bother telling me about any discount outlets or such, because they can’t or won’t deliver for less than that amount, no matter what they advertise. Since I’m out of work right now, that cost is far beyond my reach. I was getting a little scared.

I was very amused to make another discovery: a small stash of improvised cat toys under my bed, in the far corner. A loosely wound ball of yarn, a baby bootie, some crumpled up foil, among other things, were piled together, evidently placed there by one (or perhaps both) of my cats. If I had to name one of them, I’d say it was Mimi, for she is by far the more clever kitty.

It brought to mind a mini-mystery at a favorite job I had several years ago. The office had an honor snack bar in the break room, and all nine or so employees could pretty much be counted on to pay for their candy, nuts or gum, with only the occasional memo going out saying we were short by 25¢ and would the guilty party please pay up. Inevitably we’d then end up with an extra two or three dollars the next time the honor bar was traded out.

Then, suddenly, we began to be short by significant amounts. Ten, fifteen dollars. Again, the memo was sent, and again, we over-compensated for the loss (each of us certain that in an absent-minded moment we’d taken a snack and forgotten to pay). But we were perplexed. Why the sudden dramatic change? (Excuse the pun.)

Office GossipOne employee would knowingly blame another, whispering the suspect’s name in the eager ear of a giggling gossip. It began to be uncomfortable.

This went on for months, and our executive director was exasperated. The honor bar was going, he told us, no matter that we always paid up, there was a problem and he wasn’t going to tolerate it. We were embarrassed and remained confused. A dollar here, a dime there, that we could understand. But this was too much.

Then one day one of the women noticed a suspicious piece of paper peeking out under the supply closet door. She opened it up, but other than what she’d already seen, the small room was spotless.  She peered behind the door, and there was our answer. An enormous pile of wrappers, half-eaten candy and…mouse droppings.

Since that corner was hidden once the door was open, and no one ever closed the door behind them when entering the closet, our house mouse had been able to effectively hide his crime for quite some time.

We got a good laugh at how picky he was. Not a speck of any Snickers bars remained, but the Skittles and licorice, no doubt distasteful to mice, were barely touched.

Unfortunately, our executive director was not impressed we’d found our culprit and solved the mystery. The honor bar was gone by the end of the week.

Angry WomenWe’d spent months secretly suspicious of each other, quietly trying to catch the one of us sneaking off with snacks without paying. Sadly, some of that animosity remained for the rest of the time I worked there.

The answer isn’t always obvious, and people don’t always easily give up their conclusions, no matter how clear the evidence may be that they were wrong.

All you can do is live your life with integrity, and trust the gossips will do themselves in.

It sometimes happens that way.

Image Credits: (Piggy Bank) © BCFC — Bigstock; (Drawings) © marinabh — AdobeStock/Fotolia

That One’s On Me

“Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.”
― Mark Twain

news searchBack when I was a reporter, there was a loyal yet somewhat annoying group of readers who picked apart every article and never hesitated to send us a daily critique of our mistakes, real or perceived. Somehow, I’d been lucky enough to miss out on most of their assessments. My fellow reporters, one in particular, made enough errors to keep them busy.

But one day it happened. I got the e-mail, or rather, my editor did. She called me in. “Sorry,” she said. “I don’t even know if he’s right or you’re right. Check your notes.”

I looked at the story. Damn. I’d made a mistake, pure and simple.

“Nope, it’s my mistake,” I told her. “I’ll return the e-mail.”

“Keep it short,” she advised. “Don’t say more than you have to.”

I kept it honest. “Dear Mr. Smith,” I wrote. “Thank you for your e-mail pointing out my error in today’s paper. You were right, it should read ‘this way‘ and not ‘that way.‘ While it’s not an excuse for my mistake, maybe a little explanation would help here. When I was writing the story, I thought the second sentence in paragraph three would work better if I switched it with the second sentence in paragraph two. The problem was, the transition sentence, the first sentence in paragraph three, was then incorrect. I apologize and we will run a correction in tomorrow’s paper.”

“Good luck,” the other reporters told me. “Mr. Smith is a jerk.”

smileys pixabayWell, so be it. I sent off the e-mail. Not three minutes later I received a call. It was Mr. Smith.

“I don’t care that you made the mistake,” he said. “We all make mistakes. But you’re the first reporter to admit it. I usually get a bunch of crazy excuses with the blame placed anywhere but on the reporter.”

I thanked Mr. Smith and smiled. It wasn’t the first mistake I’d made, and it likely wouldn’t be the last. But admitting it gave me the freedom to make more without someone calling me a fool, or losing their respect.

It also kept them off my back.

Image Credit: (Focus on the News) © GraphicStock

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