A talent for chaos

I blame it on my grandfather. When he came round to tea, my grandmother told stories about a funny man who was always getting himself into trouble, Laurel and Hardy style. One time, he locked himself out of his car and had to go through a pile of old keys from scrapped cars until he found one which unlocked his own car. While visiting friends, he mislaid his car keys and they turned the house upside down in a futile effort to find them. He gave up, decided to walk home and the missing keys tumbled out of his hat as he put it on his head. Another time, he locked himself out of his house and had to break in through the bathroom window. A neighbour caught sight of his legs disappearing through the window and called the police.

I was quite old, perhaps eleven or twelve, before I twigged that the hero of all these stories was my grandfather.

I’ve inherited his talent for self-created chaos. It lay dormant for a while, but it’s come back in full force over the last few months. Not long ago, I had an incident with car keys which my grandfather would have been proud of. I bundled the dog into the back of the car and closed the boot. The car doors clicked as they automatically locked, and I realised that I had dropped the car keys onto the floor of the boot while I adjusted the dog’s seat belt. I could see the keys lying beside the dog, but none of the doors would budge.

Fortunately more help is available for people like me than there was in my grandfather’s day. I called the AA, with the help of my mobile ‘phone, an invention which my grandfather never took to, although he did learn to use a computer in his eighties. The AA man managed to squeeze a wire through the door and hook up the handle to unlock it. I was amazed at how easy it is to break into a car. Perhaps car doors aren’t as solid now as they were in my grandfather’s day.

That wasn’t the last silly mistake. The bank sent me a card to replace the one I had accidentally torn up. Well and good. Life went back to normal and I could pay for the shopping. Not long after, I was sent yet another new bank card. Perhaps this was the one I would have got anyway, if I hadn’t needed a replacement. I decided that I didn’t need two new bank cards and so I shoved the new, new one onto my in-tray and made a note to myself to ‘phone the bank and ask them about it. I hate ‘phoning the bank, especially giving my personal details to a computer while I wait to talk to a flesh and blood person, and so this item was way down my priority list.

Last week I did the kind of mega shop I do once in six weeks to stock up on tins and food for the freezer. I put everything through the check-out, bagged it and when I tried to pay, my card was refused. Shooting an apologetic look at the queue of customers behind me, I ran out and tried the bank machine which informed me that my card was invalid.

Hmm. I suspected that it had something to do with that new, new card and so I asked the supermarket staff to put my bags in the chiller while I ran home to check. I ‘phoned the bank and a very nice lady explained that my new card ran out one month after the new new card was issued, regardless of the expiry date.

I had to return to the supermarket, put everything through the checkout and bag it all up again. This time the payment worked. I returned home, tired, but feeling as if I had managed to maintain a sense of humour and a little bit of peacefulness and patience with myself. Sometimes it’s hard living with myself, and so I have sympathy with other people who have to put up with me.

What has this got to do with faith? Nothing except that it’s part of life.

This was going to be mainly a funny post, but since I wrote the first draft, I received news that the close relative I wrote about earlier has become ill again. It felt as if I was taking up a burden, that is almost too heavy for me, one which I had perhaps never completely put down. It’s a burden which doesn’t make any sense because there is nothing I can do by worrying. Didn’t Jesus say something about burdens? Handing my burden over means trusting that God really is there, knows what he’s doing and that he’s really got our best interests at heart. It’s comparatively easy with a self-induced mix up with bank cards, but it’s a lot harder when it comes to the health of someone you love. I’m not sure I can manage that much trust right now.

If anyone is reading it, I would appreciate a prayer, or just a thought, if you prefer to put it that way, for me and my family.


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