At the end of the day I do the pat down. I check my pockets for the stuff that has ended up in them. I try to hang my keys on the hook by the garage, my wallet goes in the brass bowl and then I sort out the other stuff. Usually, it’s bits of paper, cough drop wrappers and reminders. Last Wednesday had been a full day. Lots of meetings and a full contact prayer meeting for DNOW led to a late night . When I got home, I sat for a few minutes and then headed to bed. I reached into my pocket. I forgot to hang up my keys on the hook. Then I reached into my left front pocket and pulled out a huge pieces of hardish plastic. It was my number from lunch. I don’t know how for most of the day it had been in my pocket and I had not once noticed it. Sometimes, I am oblivious.
Rewind about nine hours earlier. I sat down at the table and my table-mates asked me, “Where is your number?” I stopped and look around. “I did not get one,” was my reply. I walked back to the front counter. “I did not get a number.” There was no accusation in my tone, it was an admission that I had walked away without the number.
They looked at me. They typed into the cash register. “Your number is 64.” They looked through the cards and found no 64. “Ill just tell they guy delivering the food your number.” I went back to the table and my food appeared on cue.
Later that night, when I pulled out the card, I realized that I lied (“I did not get a card”) and I stole (the card was in my pocket). On further reflection, the cashier knew that I had been given the card. That is how she got the number for my order. She never let it interfere with helping me. On Friday, I returned to the scene of the crimes. I pulled the card out and walked into the lobby. Several of the workers looked at me. The worker that had helped me was not there. I apologized for taking their card and for asserting that I had not been given a card when I clearly had been given a card. I was told that I was banned from the store for two weeks.
Then they laughed at me. They took my order. They gave me a card, it had 64 on it. I sat at the table with the number right next to me. I was humming the Beatles song, “When I’m 64.” In part it reads, “will you still need me, will you still feed me, When I’m 64.” I’m thankful that they still brought me food. They were good sports about the whole thing. I wondered how many people never bring the cards back?
Sometimes our errors are hard to see layered under our reasons and justifications. Sometimes the evidence is powerful and convicting. I’m praying that I see my errors more clearly and then make them right more quickly.