Monday, January 15, 2007

The 8th Dwarf

When I was about 14 or 15 I took the role of Grumpy in the church pantomime of Snow White and the 7 Dwarves. As I could be very moody (and what teenager can't be?) the image stuck and my family still seem to think I'm in a bad mood whether I am or not. We live up to expectations or we live down to them. If someone expects you to be grumpy all the time and treats you like a moody so-and-so, you tend to behave like it. Well, I did/sometimes still do.

So on Monday, when I started to write this post, I could have got really grumpy in the car on the way home when I noticed rather a lot of steam coming out from under the bonnet.

I could have got really really grumpy to find that not only was there no oil, there was also no water, and neither of the warning lights had come on.

I topped up the water, and begged some oil from a kind neighbour, and smiled and was cheerful and tried not to be grumpy.

I went to the garage and bought oil for myself, and oil for the neighbour, and then went shopping. Because the neighbourhood isn't brilliant in places, you have to put a coin in the shopping trolley to release it from the rack, otherwise they get stolen, rammed into cars and shop windows, vandalised and dumped. I've long since stopped getting grumpy about never having a £1 coin for the trolley, so I have a handy little token on my car key-ring. I did my shopping, spent too much but was glad I didn't have the added expense of the bi-weekly bottle of rum any more and discovered, when I got back to the car, that the trolley token, mykey-ring, and my car key had disappeared!

Oh, lots of reasons to be grumpy! The assistant I spoke to shrugged and said that no-one had handed any keys in and turned away. I had to ask if she would consider putting my shopping somewhere safe while I looked for the keys and maybe she might like to help me look.

So ... frantic phone calls to a sister-in-law who wasn't there, a long wait outside in the cold, another trip into the store to ask if they could look again, another phone call to the sister-in-law to come and get me, tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat and the thought, 'I can't even have a drink to get over this when I finally get home ...'

And then one of the staff found my keys and all was well, and I went home and didn't drink, and was grateful, not grumpy ...

And the next day, on the way to work, the engine started pouring out steam and I panicked and drove to my friendly mechanic so that he could check if it was safe to drive, and he did a few tests and said yes, but he booked it in for Monday to run more thorough (and more expensive) checks. I got to work almost 3 hours after leaving home - 13 miles away - and I could have been grumpy but my new colleagues had seen me arrive from the window and had gone to get me a cup of coffee before I even got to my desk because they figured I'd need it. And my boss was stuck in traffic so he didn't even know I was late - although I told him when he arrived, and even then he didn't mind.

Had I been in my old job, had this all happened before I admitted I was drinking too much, I would have been grumpy about all the car problems. They would have been the final straw on top of my old crappy job, and I'd have gone home and drunk at least half a bottle of rum.

Financially I cannot afford to have car problems but that doesn't matter at the moment. Right now I am just so grateful that I didn't have an accident, that I have such kind colleagues and that I know a great mechanic who keeps my old heap of a car on the road. I am grateful that God was keeping an eye on me during the terrible wind storms that killed 13 people this week and kept me on the road safely despite all the car problems.

I feel for Grumpy, I really do. I sympathise with him and I have often been him in the past, but right now I ask myself how I can possibly be grumpy about simple mechanic things, like the car, when so much else, so many more important things, are going right?

So, if I could add another dwarf to Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Dopey, Sneezy, Sleepy and Bashful, I'd add Grateful and, much as I love Grumpy and identify with him, I think I'd rather be Grateful than Grumpy.

Whichever dwarf you are, or even if you are Snow White, have a Happy day!


Mary Christine said...

It sounds like you have got the proverbial "new pair of glasses".

Anonymous said...

holy crap! what an awful time you had!
you sure do have a lot to be thankful for :) it's cool that you can see that now.

I agree with MC - nice new glasses.

Shadow said...

yikes!!!! shitty day, i'm impressed how well you handled it..... and i like your dwarfs. i also tend to bounce between them...

A Tampa Realtor said...

Lol, Grumpy.

Cool post!

Nancy said...

Hooray for Grateful.

Very nice post, and I'll join you in being grateful as well.