One last tale from our adventures in the great white north, and sadly this one is a tale of woe. Then again, after watching this week’s Game of Thrones, it will probably sound like the happiest thing you’ve ever heard!
So Sarah and I stayed at a hotel which gave us a tremendous amount of coupons. We got money off of our dinners, free gifts, and other nice items to kind of make the trip feel a bit more homey. It was really nice! One of the coupons we were given was $50 in free slot play at one of three local casinos. Sarah and I aren’t gamblers, but we figured since someone was essentially handing us money and saying “go nuts,” then go nuts we shall! We saved the coupon until the end of the trip, and figured we’d hit the casino on the way home.
One of the casinos was in Buffalo, so immediately after we crossed the border, we found our way to the casino. This proved more difficult than one would think, as every street in Buffalo is currently under some sort of construction. Seriously, it was amazing anyone gets anywhere in that town. We found the casino, and a parking lot adjacent that said “Free Parking for Casino.” Made in the shade.
We went over to the Casino, where we were the youngest people by at LEAST 30 years. It was crowded, loud, and full of cigarette smoke, so Sarah and I agreed to get in, lose someone else’s money, and get out as quickly as possible. After giving the kind cashier our “junk” email addresses to get our 50 bucks, we began to play.
We actually made out alright, coming away with roughly $30. When you consider that we went in with nothing of our own money, and came back out with $30, that’s a pretty good day at the Casino. We weren’t millionaires, but we decided we could at least treat each other to one last nice lunch on the way home to cap off our trip. As we were walking out to the car and discussing what we wanted to eat, Sarah said that someone had put a flyer on my car. I was immediately annoyed. Imagine how much more annoyed I was to discover that it wasn’t a flyer at all, but a sticker telling me that I had been booted for neglecting to pay for parking.
Have you ever had a moment where your blood boils?
The instructions on the flyer from hell said that we were to pay $100 at the pay station. After searching the parking lot high and low, we found a pay station on the other side of the lot. Angry angry angry. We followed the instructions on the sheet. Angry angry angry. I placed my credit card into the slot. Angry angry angry. The machine in question froze and wouldn’t accept my card.
What level do you go to when you’re angry on top of your blood boiling?
The flyer had phone numbers for support on it, but no area codes listed with any of the numbers. If it were my Jeep, we would have just left it there. But I kind of like this Subaru (despite my decision to not use it at all for the next month), so we hung in there. Eventually we got a hold of the manager of the place. I told him (as politely as I could muster) that the machine refused to take my money. He told me it had taken everybody else’s money all day. I reached through the phone and punched him in the mouth. No, I didn’t. I told him that for as much as I felt like I was being taken advantage of, that I would just love for someone to come take my money so that I could get on the road and go home. He told me he was dispatching one of his workers, who would be there in five minutes.
Fifteen minutes later I had resolved to punch whoever showed up in the mouth. I was as angry as I’ve been in a long long time. As I was contemplating just how hard it could be to pick the locks on a car boot, the service vehicle showed up, and out stepped…
You know, that group of people I work with, defend, and try my best to shepherd spiritually? Yeah. One of those. At first it made me even more angry. You could tell by the shape of our phone conversation that this manager knew exactly what he was doing, how to get precious dollars out of the hands of casino visitors with confusing signage. And when I was finally hoping to take my anger out on someone, the manager hides behind a teenager. Lame. “Face me yourself coward” I thought. But no such luck. And so now I was left with a metric ton (still working through the metric system from Canada of course) of anger, and really really not wanting to take it out on this kid who had found a crappy job taking the punches for some jerk parking lot manager so he could go to college or at the least have some ice cream money.
We starred at the pay machine for a while, and he realized it was frozen too. He called his manager and they talked for a bit before it finally worked, they had my money, and the teen and I started walking back to my car. In that moment I do what I always try to do when there’s no hope for me. I try to help the next “me” that comes along. I told the kid that they really need to get A) better signs and B) a better payment machine, so that I’m not so tempted to punch it in the mouth. The teen muttered something about how he isn’t in charge of all that. Sarah and I hoped in the car, and after about three more detours, got the heck out of Buffalo.
As I was replaying the whole situation in my mind on the way home, I kept thinking that I wish I had handled it better. I was angry, and I think justifiably. I was taken advantage of. Signs that promised one thing delivered nothing of the sort. And so I was angry. And even though I held back with the teenager in question, I certainly didn’t show him the kind of love or generosity that I want to be known for. I certainly didn’t show him Christ. Sure, he was part of the establishment that was fleecing me, but Christ tells me that if someone asks for my shirt to give them my coat too. He had my shirt. I kept the coat. So I don’t know if I could have handled this situation any differently, but I know that I wish I had. I don’t know if I could have kept anger at bay, but I kind of wish I was the kind of person who could be loving, even in that situation. It’s something I’m going to have to work on, and I hope you will too.