Adding insult to injury
By: By Lisa Smartt
I got lost. I didn’t get turned around. I got lost, completely lost. I had just finished speaking about my personal inadequacies at a convention in Murfreesboro. Within 20 minutes of leaving the convention hotel, I was smack dab in the middle of an “inadequate” moment. I needed to travel east toward Knoxville but I missed my exit. How did I miss my exit? That’s a lot like asking Granny how she makes biscuits. She just does. When it comes to getting lost, I just do. It’s part of my identity.
I think the first problem is that I start thinking deeply about life. Thinking is a perfectly noble activity unless it keeps you from reading exit signs. I can walk and chew gum at the same time. I just can’t think and read exit signs at the same time. When I realized I had traveled far past my exit, I decided to pull over and ask for help. But the ramp led me on a spiral loop-to-loop which got me even more confused. While recovering from the dizziness, I tried to provide some positive self-talk, “Look, Lisa, this is no big deal. You’ll just ask someone for help. Breathe deeply.”
I pulled into a fast food restaurant and developed a brilliant plan. I would enter the restaurant and look for the oldest local man I could find. I would then explain that I needed to get to Knoxville. An older man would smile and say, “Why, young lady, that’s no problem at all.” He would then impart brilliant yet simple directions and all would be right with the world. With a broad smile on my face, I disembarked from the vehicle and proceeded to lock the car. Only one problem with the brilliant plan. My keys were resting securely on the car seat. The car seat of the locked car. Yep!
Now I was standing in the parking lot of a Krystal somewhere in the state of Tennessee next to a car with the keys securely locked inside. This is my life.
After entering the restaurant, I found the local man I had envisioned. “Sir, excuse me, I’m in a bit of a pickle. I’m lost AND I locked my keys in the car. So, I guess I need two favors. The name of a local locksmith and directions to Knoxville. Well, no, don’t give me the directions now. Y’see, I’ll forget the directions ’cause I’ll be distracted by thinking about the locksmith. Let’s do one thing at a time.” After scouring the phone book, we called a local locksmith and sat down to wait. I was glad the older man stayed with me because the first thing that locksmith asked was, “Where are you?” And that was clearly above my head.
An older woman who worked at the restaurant felt sorry for me and brought me a cup of coffee. Her kind words blessed my heart, “Honey, sometimes days just go bad. I had a day like that yesterday. Y’see, my husband died a few years ago. And yesterday I was a cryin’ and feelin’ all bitter, but then, I thought, ‘I am TOO blessed to be invitin’ myself to my own pity party!’ Yeah, I did!” Her crooked teeth formed a smile that was the most beautiful I had seen in a long time. When the locksmith arrived, I wrote down the directions to Knoxville and hugged my new friends good-bye. The whole experience took 30 minutes and cost a cool $50. But that’s perfectly fine. In the process of losing my way, I found it.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. Her book “The Smartt View: Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets” is available at The Messenger, The University of Tennessee at Martin bookstore or by mail for $10, plus $2 shipping. Send checks to Lisa Smartt, 300 Parrott Road, Dresden TN 38225. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 4.23.08
Lisa Smartt, Smartt View