My most recent "IT'S A GOD THING" happened last week in Kansas City, at the Hyatt parking garage, during the MSTA (Missouri State Teachers Association) Convention. Thursday, Deb Fritts and I served as delegates to the convention representing our school, so we were there from early morning until late afternoon. Debbie got our parking ticket stamped at the concierge's desk so we didn't have to pay for parking, we enjoyed lunch together and took advantage of many of the opportunites.
Debbie wasn't able to go with me Friday - which is another story in and of itself that I will share with you in another post - so about 6:20 am (I know...I know!) I rolled into the parking lot, found a rather close-to-the-elevator space on the fifth floor, unloaded all my stuff I use for presenting, and headed for Van Horn B to speak on Classroom Management, then later, Motivating students. That, too, is another story I'll try to post soon.
At the end of the conference Friday afternoon, everyone was busting out of there at the same time, so this huge onslaught of cars full of people anxious to head home, lined up behind the little gate that keeps you from going anywhere until you either present your stamped-at-the0cioncierge's-desk ticket OR fork over a handfull of cash.
This is really where my story began. I sat in line waiting to exit for a good three levels, creeping slow enough that even I could've walked faster! (That's saying a ton, too!) Once I finally reached the toll hut, in perfect recapitulation of the day before, I dutifully handed him my stamped parking ticket, rolled up my window and waited for the little armlet to go up so I could go out. However, as we all know too well, we don't always get what we want, nor does everything happen as we expect!
The not-nice little man who was collecting MONEY (not stamped parking tickets) was talking on his cell to someone I felt VERY sorry for - because he was giving whoever it was - an ear full. As my window was on it's way to the top, he yelled, "YOU OWE ME SIX DOLLARS!" I bumped the little window-roller-downer button and replied, "Excuse me?" fully having heard what he said, but wondering why yesterday cost me nothing and today I'm being charge six dollars. He continued his conversation on the cell. I wasn't meaning to be difficult, but I very kindly inquired, "I don't mean to be disrespectful, but yesterday I was here for nearly 12 hours and my stamped ticket allowed me to park free of charge. How is it that today I owe six dollars for a much shorter amount of time?"
Even though only 30 seconds or so had ticked past by this point, it seemed like an eternity with all the cars backed up behind me waiting to escape the confines of the multi-level parking lot that'd been holding them hostage for more than an unreasonable amount of time. He barked, "SIX BUCKS - WE CHARGE ALL THE TIME!!! YESTERDAY IS NOT MY PROBLEM!!"
I dipped into my billfold, grabbed a twenty, accepted my change, rushed under the arm thingy - figuring at this point if at all within his capability, he'd maneuver it to smash down on me and my lil' jitney, and pulled into north-bound traffic.
In the midst of checking mirrors, closing my window, adjusting my defrosters so I could see through the foggy windshield, I passed the change Mr. Grumpypants had given me from my left hand to my right so I could stash it in my wallet. He'd given me TWO TWENTIES and FOUR ONES! Ol' Mr. Grumpypants gave me $44 back when I only gave him $20 in the first place and only owed him $6 total!!
I knew I had to return it, but I couldn't just back up - too much traffic, so I took my first right thinking I'd just go around the block and take it right back to him - easy 'nuff, right? WRONG!!!
I took the first southbound road with intentions of going a block or so, turning west, then north again, and returning easily to the parking attendant area from the south. Instead, the first right turn I found, was blocked by construction. The second right turn was ONE WAY. The third right was blocked by a big 18 wheeler unloading. I went a little further south, signaled to turn right and that road was a dead end. I'm thinking to myself - HOLY COW! Everything that could happen is happening to make it difficult to return this money to that crabby ol' guy - all these road blocks and detours are complicating my effort! I drive further south still, and find yet more obstacles keeping me from just going around the block.
Finally, I think I was clear to 39th street when I found a road open to the west. One block west right, then north - and I'd be back on track. WRONG again! I couldn't go right on the first street I came to, nor could I on the next one - so three blocks west, I finally get to turn right. Now I'm way out of the original quadrant I'd hoped to remain and I've spent a lot of time just trying to get back to where I once was! I had to go back north quite a way, then find an eastbound lane that was open, then one more spurt to the north and I eventually made it back to the parking lot!
Cars were still lined up as far as the eye could see, so rather than pulling in and getting another parking ticket from the little machine that welcomes you to the "HYATT PUBLIC PARKING LOT" and spews forth a little piece of paper that apparently costs you $6 even if it's stamped at the hotel desk, I nosed my car forward into the little hut where the attendant guy was sharing his good cheer with all the other drivers - (I joke.)
I grabbed my key, hopped out of the car, headed toward the little booth and by golly - Mr Grumpypants WASN'T THERE!!!! Evidently, during my lengthy excursion trying to locate a simple return route, there'd been a shift change and Mr. Grumpypants was nowhere in sight!
Returning to my car, I knew I had another decision to make! I waffled on the idea of returning the money to the guy on shift then in the little hut, but promptly changed my somewhat-skeptical mind when I figured HIS till wouldn't be the one falling $40 short, so he might pocket the extra rather than searching down Mr. Grumpypants on my behalf. I sat there awhile longer trying to decide what next.
My first inclination was to re-park, go back inside the hotel and give the money to the manager, but it honestly didn't take long, after staring at the endless line of bumper-to-bumper traffic still trying to escape the garage that that was a horrible idea and needed to be vetoed! Plus, it'd cost me another SIX BUCKS!
After 86ing all the ideas I could come up with, I finally felt comfortable with just going on home, placing the money in an envelope and MAILING it to the Hyatt General Manager. I figured if I included the date and time, someone would be able to determine which attendant needed the change to balance his till. I have to admit, all the while I'm thinking: Here I am...trying to do the RIGHT THING and return this money to a man who was everything but nice to me...and I can't do it no matter how hard I try! I've run into every possible obstacle I can think of, aside from a wreck, that could've happened! This was Murphy's Law at it's finest! And...it would be awfully easy - especially this close to Christmas - to say 'too bad, so sad for you Mr. Grumpypants! You were rude and this must be what you deserve! It's my reward for being nice to you even if you were ugly-acting to me!'
So off to home I headed - all the way revisiting the events that had just happened, hashing it over in my mind and wondering if there could've been any way it could've been more weird the way everything transpired. All in all, I estimated that I'd messed around with my efforts of returning what wasn't rightfully mine for nearly 45 minutes and regretfully, I was still unsuccessful! As I drove along, I decided he must've thought I'd given him a fifty instead of a twenty - and that would've made his change correct, but I KNOW I gave him a $20. I'd sold five books, everyone paid cash, I'd grabbed a $20 and his crabby-stuffed cell phone conversation coupled with my questions distracted him enough to hand me the wrong change. Poor guy - he might lose his job over that much money!
The other thing is, I NEVER EVER carry that kind of cash with me and if I do happen to have it, it's in a multiple collection of smaller bills - but never a $50 bill! Twenties - yes! Fifties - no way!
I think I remember seeing the Van Brunt exit ramp when my own personal lightbulb flickered on!
Thursday first thing, just prior to the delegate meeting, the CEA Treasurer came around, signed us in and then presented each of us a stipend to cover our two-day expenses at convention!
The change I'd been trying to give away for the last hour - WAS MY MONEY! Had I been able to come up with a way to return the balance to Mr. Grumpypants, I would've been giving him MY MONEY!! It was MY FIFTY DOLLARS people! I so desperately tried to give it away, but because so many irritating, aggravating, obnoxious obstacles got in my way, I couldn't!!
Yup - IT WAS A GOD THING!