What Was the First Stone?
I had a rough time this morning. I woke up remembering today was Sunday, and I was out of eggs. That meant I needed to make a trek to the local farmers market and get back home before my daughter needed the car to get to work by 8:30. No problem, I incorrectly thought. I have plenty of time.
I took my time checking on messages from the previous night while my body went through its own waking up rituals. I was up and dressed for a day of physical labor in no time. It was more than an hour before my daughter needed to head to work. Almost 7:30. The farmers market opened at 8, but vendors often start selling as soon as they are set up and ready for business. I only needed eggs, had to be back by 8:15, and was ready to go. So I headed out.
It was a beautiful morning. I was thinking about my to-do list as I have another project in my bathroom. I recently painted it. I needed to devote my day today to that task. The sun was shining. The temperature was perfect indicating today will be warm but not too hot. So much to appreciate.
The drive down to the farmers market was quiet. Mostly green lights at intersections. Few people out yet. Cars were just starting to arrive and shoppers were getting their bags ready to fill with fresh produce. There really is something wonderful about an open air market.
I walked up to the egg stand, the same happy man as always. I have a pretty good idea where he raises his chickens in a nearby town. The eggs he sells were freshly gathered from the hens that very morning. I love his eggs. They actually have flavor unlike what I get at the grocery store, and they don't get so easily crushed on the way home by a minor bump in the road. Tough eggs. Hard to crack. I wish I was.
I attempted to ask for eggs only to have this normally happy gentleman get all apologetic. "I have to wait. She is watching me. I can't sell until 8 o'clock." I seriously felt like I was buying drugs.
"She makes the rules. She won't let me sell until 8."
Sure enough, there was a woman off a ways watching us. She was standing guard so to speak to make sure no buying or selling was happening before 8. Seriously? Time just got shorter for me.
It was 20 minutes to 8. I needed to get home by 8:15, and I had a huge project ahead of me. I decided it would be a good idea to do something to soothe my nerves so I wouldn't get upset over such a simple thing as needing to wait before buying some eggs. After all, they're just eggs, right?
I got back into my car and headed over to the nearest Starbucks. Very close. I figured I could get my order and be back by 8 to get the eggs and get home. I made my order online on my way so it would be ready as soon as I arrived.
Nope. I arrived to an apologetic employee trying to explain to all the customers waiting as she was flying around prepping food and drinks that they were short staffed. The other employee mumbled something about someone not showing up as she poured the coconut milk into my pink venti. Hm. Well, it was obvious they were going to have a difficult morning. I decided to not let it get to me. I wanted to be a grateful customer. They were going to have a bad enough day as it was. I didn't need to add to it.
I finally got my breakfast. Already 8, and I needed to get back to the market.
I drove over to the market. The lot was full and getting fuller. Way more than normal at that time. I finally found a place to park and ran over to the egg stand. There was a line. It took some time but not as long as it could have. I got my eggs. 8:10. I might make it by 8:20 if I hit most of the lights green like I did on the way down.
I was optimistic because the traffic was very light. Red light. Red light. Another red light. Here is another. Red. Red. Even this light that almost never changes from green is red. Are we kidding? I hit every single light red. I arrived at 8:22. My daughter was understandably anxious to go, and my optimistic mood at the start of the day was long gone.
I still have yet to start my work in the bathroom, but I decided I would do a better job if I got myself to calm back down and reclaim some of my better attitude from earlier in the morning. I sat down to eat my Starbucks breakfast sandwich, drink my pink drink, and watch a little news.
My mind wandered to how people's decisions affect others, even unintentionally, even on total strangers. I thought about the concept of the rock dropped into still water that creates rings of ripples.
When one person does something, or doesn't do something, it is the rock dropped into still water that creates the ripple effect changing the trajectory of other people's plans, moods, conditions, decisions, etc.
That woman making sure no one buying or selling before 8am had a ripple effect on me, all other shoppers there, and all the sellers who were ready to sell. I could have driven off and not spent another dime at that farmers market ever again if I had been angry enough. I chose not to be that angry. I don't know the reasons for why she is coming down so hard on the rule. Frankly, I think it's ridiculous. But, it could be for insurance reasons, or it could just be she is one of those people where rules cannot be broken no matter what. Maybe breaking minor rules gives her major anxiety? Or, maybe someone came down on her about it.
Running over to the Starbucks should have been fine, but someone decided not to make it to work this morning. That affected every single person at that Starbucks. The other employees, the customers waiting for food, the families in the cars waiting for their food so they could get to whatever destinations they had, the people at those destinations, etc. Lots of ripples there.
I got back to the farmers market and now there was a line which shouldn't have been there if that rule enforcer hadn't been watching so closely earlier.
Every light red? I don't even know what to make of that. That was just bizarre. Every. Single. Light. Red. Bummer.
And to top it all off, I was late creating another ripple effect for my daughter, her employers, and their customers.
So, where was the catalyst? What was the first tossed rock? Was it with me? Did I get out of bed too early? Was it with the rule enforcer at the market? Was it with the egg guy who didn't break her rule? Was it with the person who didn't show up to work at Starbucks? Was there another event that led to his not making it to work such as a car accident or his catalytic converter was stolen? Was he unable to afford to put gas in his car, therefore this is all Putin's fault?
Tongue in cheek humor there, people. Let's not launch into a political debate.
Or, was I caught in the cross hairs of multiple pebbles tossed into the water all at once?
I don't know what started the whole cycle. I only know it made my daughter late for work, and she wasn't going to be in a position to blame me or others for that. She would be blamed by her employers.
We live in a society where we want to correct other individuals or groups of people. We point out "Karens" and old white men. We automatically go to blaming gangs for every murder on the news. We point fingers at the other political party for every injustice that surrounds us. And so on, and so on.
How often to we look at the rocks in our own hands? What role did I play in tossing in a pebble that affected someone in my vicinity I didn't know, didn't see, didn't experience how I impacted their day? Have we stopped giving general consideration to the strangers around us?
This makes me not want to leave my house ever again. What would that do? Maybe the rock I am about to toss into the water by leaving my house tomorrow actually has a good ripple effect? What if me making a wrong turn causing another car to miss the green light actually prevents that person from being in a major accident 20 minutes later, and all I had to endure was them honking at me in anger at this moment?
We don't know what we don't know. But, maybe, we should all do more to think about what we are doing and the choices that we make?
How is your day going? I hope better than mine. I have work to do on my bathroom. I need to stop writing to all of you and get to that. Who knows? Maybe I am preventing you from getting to that Starbucks drink you've been craving. Have a great day!
Thanks for reading. Shoot me an email if you wish at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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