Hey, BLM Friends!
I’m taking a quick diversion from my typical DIY posts to share an experience I had yesterday that took me from high to low to high again, and in the process showed me first-hand how small gestures of kindness really do matter. They matter a lot.
I mentioned in my last post that I spent the week down in Melbourne, Florida with my son Drew and his girlfriend Kenzie.
We had an absolute blast – kayaking, swimming, going to the beach, eating yummy food, relaxing and working on this gorgeous DIY Platform bed that Kenzie made.
It was an idyllic week.
So when I got up early Saturday morning to head home with Samson, my little Pomeranian, my heart 💖 was full and I was on top of the world. It was a true mountaintop experience.
I was feeling blessed and highly favored. 😇
Have you ever noticed that mountaintop experiences sometimes precede a valley nosedive?
Fortunately, my valley would be a fairly shallow one, all things considered, but let’s just say things took a radical turn about 10 minutes after I embarked on my journey home.
I needed to put gas in my car, so I stopped at a gas station about 5 minutes after pulling out from the house.
When I got out of the car to pump the gas, my hands were full with my wallet, my iPhone and some trash I needed to throw away.
I tossed the trash in the trash can, laid my phone on the hood of the car and started pumping the gas. (if you’re thinking “uh-oh”, then you see where this is heading.)
While the gas was pumping, I decided to go inside and get a protein bar to eat on the road. I came back to the car, replaced the nozzle, screwed my gas cap on and, in blissful ignorance, headed out for the trip home.
It was a perfect morning – warm with a gentle breeze – so I had my windows partway down as I pulled out of the gas station and drove onto the bridge that would take me across the bay onto the mainland.
When I was almost to the top of the bridge, something suddenly popped up and hit the lower left corner of my windshield. And as if in slo-mo, I saw it and thought… MYYYY PHONNNNNE. 😳
Right there before my eyes, my iPhone 6s Plus – in it’s protective Otterbox case – flew up off the hood of the car, hit my windshield and went flying onto the bridge.
I was stunned. But kept driving because I had no choice. Immediately, the options for my next steps started racing through my head.
Keep driving and just leave my phone on the bridge? It’s probably already destroyed, I thought, plus going back, stopping on the bridge and getting out of my car would be too dangerous. Did I mention I have a HUGE phobia of bridges (technically known as Gephyrophobia)? And who knew if I would even be able to find it.
Go back and try to retrieve it? What if it’s still intact, just lying there waiting for me to get it? Those Otterboxes are pretty tough. Plus, it was early in the morning and there wasn’t much traffic, so if I timed things right and could locate my phone, I could probably (somewhat) safely stop and get it. But then there’s that whole Gephyrophobia thing. I hate driving over bridges – was I really capable of stopping on a bridge and getting out of my car, just for a phone?? Was that even wise? Probably not.
But I went with option 2 anyway. The thought of driving 7-8 hours without a phone was a little intimidating, quite honestly. Back in the old days, we did it all the time because we didn’t know any better. But now… it scared me a little.
Plus, I knew my family would be checking in with me – and would be worried if they couldn’t reach me – so in the end, I decided it was worth a shot.
So I finished crossing the bridge, and made a couple of left turns to come back over the bridge in the opposite direction.
I was totally praying at this point. Please God, please, please, please let me get my phone back. Pretty please?!? 😀🙏
I’ve seen Him do much bigger things than this in my life, so I was hopeful. 💕
After crossing back over the opposite direction bridge, I made a U-Turn the first chance I had, checking to make sure no cars were in sight.
Thankfully it was still early and I ended up with a lull in traffic, with no cars behind me on the bridge as I headed back to the scene of the “accident”.
Driving slowly as I approached the spot where the phone had taken flight, I saw it.
Or should I say, I saw them – the pieces of my Otterbox, along with the phone, scattered on the bridge.
My heart pounding, I put the car in park – not really believing I was parking and getting out of my car on a bridge.
I told Samson “Mommy will be right back” and hoped and prayed I wasn’t lying to him.
I saw the poor phone, lying there on the bridge, exposed and unprotected, rushed over and grabbed it – and it was completely shattered. 😥 NOOOOO!!
Here it is, in all its shattered glory.
In all fairness, God did answer my prayer because I found the phone – maybe I should have been a little more specific 😛
Or maybe – He had a bigger plan in all of this.
I put the car in drive and continued on, thinking I really needed to call my husband Greg and let him know what was going on. Who, by the way, had been in the ER the previous night with a scratched cornea – I found out by text early that morning – and I had yet to talk to him.
But of course, I was phone-less.
And do payphones even still exist??? And if so, how do you use one?
I considered going back to Drew’s, but was anxious to get going toward home, so I continued on, my lifeless, shattered phone lying on the floorboard of the car.
As I planned my next steps, it occurred to me that we had an available upgrade (on Greg’s line – but he hadn’t shown much interest in upgrading, so I figured it was mine for the taking). THIS was good news.
So now, if I could just find a Verizon store, I could probably get myself a shiny new replacement phone. “Ok, great idea”, I thought, “let me just look up a few Verizon stores along my route home.”. Oh wait, no phone. Argghh!!! 😩
Then, I thought, let me call Greg and ask him to look it up. No phone.
Ok, so I would have to locate a Verizon store the good old-fashioned way. By asking someone. Gasp!
So I figured the very earliest a store might open would be 9 a.m. At this point it was about 7:30 a.m., so I would have to go phone-less for at least a couple of hours.
No big deal, let me just pass the time by pulling up a podcast on my… oh yeah, no phone. Sigh.
Good grief, I realized, I feel like I’ve lost a limb.
So I turned on the radio and managed to find a replay of Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 from the early 80’s – you need to be a certain age to have a clue what I’m talking about here – and had a nice sing-along with Bob Seger, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and The Pretenders, happy to now have a plan.
Once on the Turnpike (I love you SunPass, for saving me time and scrounging for change and dollar bills for the toll – you were totally worth it), I saw signs for Ocala and figured I should land there around 9 a.m.
Perfect timing – I knew there were several exits and it’s a decent sized city, so there had to be a Verizon store.
I set my sights on Ocala. And my hope for reconnecting to the world. 😋
I got to the first Ocala exit around 9 a.m. and decided to hit Dunkin’ Donuts for a toasted almond coffee with cream only. I figured this might be a good place to ask a local for the location of the nearest Verizon store.
The young lady at the drive-thru was sweet and gracious when I asked my question, and actually went to ask some other employees who told me the mall was my best bet since it opens at 9 a.m.
Now, this whole time, I had been wondering how I was going to manage all of this with my little Pom Samson, who was traveling with me.
It was already HOT – approaching 80 degrees – and there was no way I could leave him in the car. That little guy is my heart. 💕 I wasn’t about to let anything happen to him over a phone!
But I figure God would work it out. And He did. 😉
As I’m driving towards the mall, I spotted a stand-alone Verizon store! Much better than the mall, because I was hoping that maybe, just maybe, they would let me bring my little 7-lb guy in with me if I asked nicely.
I pulled up to the store, but it didn’t open until 10 a.m. I decided to go do a quick refill of my gas tank – no worries this time about leaving the phone on the hood of my car!
I came back to the Verizon store and parked right in front of the door. Mine was the only car in the parking lot at this point.
At 9:45 a.m., I decided to get out of the car, holding little Sam, and wait because I wanted to be first in line. I had already lost close to an hour and didn’t want to waste anymore time.
While I was waiting, a sweet lady in her early 60’s came up to the door, not realizing the store wasn’t open yet.
I chatted with her for a few minutes, telling her my story while she fawned over Samson before going back to wait in her car.
Next, a gentleman carrying a little girl walked up and got in line with me, telling me how he also has a Pomeranian. We talked about how he rescued it from a shelter, how much brushing they require, and what awesome little dogs they are. 😍
By now, a crowd of people had lined up behind us, and I was so thankful I had gone ahead and started the line. This place was about to be swarmed by a sea of hungry phone buyers!
Finally, at 10 a.m. on the dot, a Verizon employee – the manager, I believe – opened the door and I led the fray into the store, holding Sam and hoping that no one mind (or notice?!)
And then, I heard the ominous words – “Sorry, service dogs only. You can’t bring your dog in.” Ok, I get it, there are rules for a reason. But really?
Couldn’t this guy make an exception? Maybe if I just pled my case?? Nope, he wasn’t budging. 😣
My hopes were dashed. The throngs of people rushed by me to get their name on the list, moving me waaayyy down the list where my name was supposed to be – at the TOP!!
I heard myself saying “but you don’t understand, I’m desperate!”.
Now, in all fairness, there’s probably a perfectly good reason for the manager drawing a hard line. And a hard line he did draw. 😬
But then, I heard these beautiful words that literally brought tears to my eyes. The nice gentleman with the little girl and the rescued Pom said “What I have to do will only take 5 minutes. I’ll hold your dog for you when I come back out“.
Ok, so this man pretty much just sprouted wings and donned a halo right right before my eyes.
I was struck later with what an AWESOME example he set in that moment for his little girl, who couldn’t have been more than 4 or 5 years old.
I uttered the words “Thank you” and stood outside to wait.
The sweet lady I had spoken with earlier came walking by on her way into the store, and asked me what had happened.
Close to losing the battle against becoming a blubbering mess, and not really sure why, I explained to her that I couldn’t bring Samson in with me.
And then, more beautiful words. “I’m not in any hurry. Let me hold your dog for you. You go ahead“. My second angel.
Thank you Lord.
I thanked her profusely, explaining that the other gentleman had already offered to hold my little guy and she went into the store, somewhat reluctantly.
As promised, Angel #1 with the little girl was out in a flash. He took Samson from me and I entered the store.
I’m not usually much of a crier, but at this point, I was really having to fight back those darn tears – partly because of the roller coaster of emotion, but mostly because I was so humbled by the kindness of these two strangers.
I thought of Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another”. How many times do I pass by strangers in need, but, unlike these two kind souls, I’m too busy or distracted to notice?
Later, I’m cut to the core by this realization and the conviction that I need to slow down and pay attention to the needs around me, not just the big ones, but the small, everyday ones.
I walked up to the manager to put my name on the list – and then, I hear these words from Angel #2, the lady who had offered to hold Sam. “Put her name ahead of mine – she needs to go next“.
I was undone.
The manager bumped me right up the list and got an employee to help me immediately – showing his own version of kindness, which didn’t go unnoticed.
I told the employee my story and he was so friendly and helpful, and did everything he could to get me set up and out of there as soon as possible.
He knew I was a bit emotional, so he made small talk about a recent trip to Atlanta he had taken with his family, and we discussed Atlanta’s horrendous traffic (always a popular Atlanta topic). Angel # 3. 😇
My phone purchase transaction was being done at a station right by the front door.
I looked out and saw the man kneeling down, holding Samson, with his little girl standing beside him.
I mouthed the words “Thank you” and wondered if he had any idea how this one seemingly small act of kindness had rocked my world.
With the transaction underway, and knowing now that I could hang very close to the front door with my car parked right outside, I went outside and took Sam from the man.
I was overflowing with gratitude as I thanked him again and put Sam in the car with the air running, leaving the door unlocked.
I stepped back inside, not more than 10 feet away from the car, watching like a hawk to make sure no one made a move toward my car – and the little furball inside 😊
I AM willing to risk life and limb to save my little guy.
Fortunately, it wasn’t necessary this time. 😋
I wrapped up my purchase, the proud owner of a new iPhone 7 Plus, and bid farewell to my Verizon friend.
Before leaving, I went and found Angel # 2, the sweet lady and thanked her once more.
I hopped in the car, relieved to have a phone for what would be the remaining 7 hours of my trip (thank you Atlanta road construction).
But more importantly, I was touched to the very depths of my soul by the compassion of a few strangers who crossed my path for less than an hour of my life.
Through each of their actions, they taught me a valuable lesson on the impact of even the very smallest acts of compassion and kindness.
In Colossians 3:12, Paul tells us: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
Lord, thank you for showing me what it feels like to be on the receiving end of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Please give me eyes to see the endless small ways I can show Your love to others.
And to my new friends at that Verizon store right off of I-75 in Ocala, Florida…
You’ll probably never see this or have any clue how you impacted my life for the brief time that our paths crossed, but I pray that you’ll receive a double portion of the kindness you showed a forlorn traveler and her little dog on a hot April day.