As we near the end of the year, on quick reflection, it would be fair to say “see you never 2017”. I’ve heard people promise a quiet, happier, better 2018. Personally, the last 4 months have been weighed with cancer, and the death of my step dad, and my grandmother. It’s been more lonely than I realized. Nationally, Trumpy Pants still has a twitter account. The biggest mass shooting in America happened, yet no new gun laws have even been brought to the table, and we continue to blame everyone else for our problems. Ugh, it’s too cold. It’s too hot. And they have yet to announce a sequel to the Power Rangers movie.
Yet, with the bad, there is the good. Even within that bad, right there in the face of it, there is light and laugher. At my step father’s funeral, I learned about the little things he did. Like helping a pregnant woman across an icy parking lot daily, and calling someone when their partner was sick regularly. He was seen a beacon for so many strangers. I ended up comforting them and their lose, when I initially assumed they came to comfort me. We feel every loss because of how much we gained. When my grandma died, my uncle and cousins from England and Alberta came home. Between tears, we found space and gave permission to share stories, to play a round of limbo in the kitchen, and to simply laugh. There is a special magic savoring what once was.
And sometimes in life, you pick up an unexpected passenger that isn’t what you wanted, or asked for. But I’d bet that there’s always a good story somewhere in there. Take the work blunder that my Dad made this past Friday.
This is my Dad. Roy Plumton. He’s a man of few words, with a surprisingly big mushy heart. He’s the kind of Dad growing up we didn’t have too much in common. He wanted to build things and get dirty, I wanted an Easy Bake Oven. Within our differences, we have our found our love, and unwavering support for one another. And throughout my life, he’s been my role model for being an extremely hard, responsible, dedicated worker.
My Dad has worked for Enterprise Car Rentals for almost ten years. This is his post-retirement gig: Mondays, and Fridays, he cleans cars, drives cars, and picks up costumers wanting to rent cars. Typically, most weeks are similar, and the joys of getting to know regular costumers, and finding random stuff left behind that can be re-gifted at Christmas are a few of his highlights. His goal is simply to do a good solid job every day.
Friday, I woke up to a text message that required an immediate phone call. My Dad made a big mistake at work.
This is that story.
Friday, it’s nearing the end of his shift, and his last one of 2017. He’s asked to pick up a costumer from a big apartment building. He’s in a large pickup truck, and isn’t able to maneuver in the tight lane around the building. It was arranged that he would pick up the costumer just outside, as is normal procedure in congested areas. Also normal procedure: He’s not told who specifically he is picking up.
As he approaches the building, a woman waves at him. He pulls up, asks if she is going to Enterprise, and she says yes. She gets in, and off they go. Pretty standard.
Dad initiates small talk as they drive along. She has two children, is working on her New Year’s plans, and religion has helped her find more good in her life. For the man of few words, I’m impressed how much ground my Dad can cover with a complete stranger (family, fun, and religion!).
As they arrive back at Enterprise, and Dad pulls the truck to a stop. The costumer doesn’t move to get out. Dad thanks her for the ride, and invites her to go inside to pick up her car. She looks back at him, blankly with a little confusion. He says again, “You can go inside to get your car”. (pause) “You said you were going to Enterprise”.
“No, I didn’t say that”. (Okay, more confusion. Dad pauses again). “You picked me up from Bethune Street…”
Dad: “OH F#CK!”
The punchline text message that my Dad sent: Ooppps picked up a hooker instead of the customer and brought her back to the office before figuring it out
I share this story as it was my favourite text message of 2017, and it was too good not to share with the world. It’s an example of a simple amazing mistake. One that highlights the humor (to me at least) in those unexpected moments (Dad might say the embarrassment 😉 ). And a moment we choose how we react to. Isn’t that life? How do we live, leave, and start a year? We can slam on the breaks, or stare into the void of the rearview mirror, or focus solely on the unknown horizon. Or, maybe, we choose to find the joy with the open road, in the standstill traffic, if you’re on your own, or with a friend, or with a… well, whoever happens to get in your car ;).
Within the anger, there is a hope rising. And with every loss, there is a win. With those relationships that don’t always come naturally, you might find your best friend. There is so much beauty and sunshine even within the most terrifying of snow storms. I’m not saying it’s all good: I’m saying it’s not all bad. With the dark of Al and Grandma dying, they remind me every day to live: Don’t wait for the calendar to flip to find your joy.
With that, as 2017 closes, and 2018 begins, I invite and encourage you to look at the dark this year, the frustrations, the disappointments, and the regrets. Find the peace, find the life, and find the humor. Thank you 2017 for pushing me, hurting me, and loving me. I’m as ready as I can be for the trials and the celebrations and everything in-between that 2018 will present. And like my Dad, whoever wants to join me in my car, I welcome you.
Song of the Day: A Million Dreams (The Greatest Showman: one of 2017’s best movies!)
Bonus Prim Photo!