pathwriter’s note: What a gift Anne Lamott is. I’m so glad her son and her editor talked her into getting on Facebook, because it means she writes posts like this from time to time—and usually just when I need them, like today.
This is a true story.
I have been doing a bunch of radio interviews to promote the coming paperback edition of Some Assembly Required, and so was in San Francisco recently. There was no street parking to be found, so I parked in an underground garage. I stuck the ticket in my wallet, went and did the interview, came back to the car, and got ready to leave.
But I couldn’t find my ticket. It wasn’t in my wallet. I looked for it there, again and again, but couldn’t find it, so I rifled through my purse. The ticket wasn’t there, either. I took everything out of the purse, put it on the passenger seat, and pawed through it, like a Samuel Becket character.
Sighing loudly, I looked everywhere it could have fallen—the console between the front seats, the ashtray, the floor, the glovebox. Then I got out, exasperated with myself. I am getting so spaced out.
I don’t want to be put in a home yet!
After a minute, though, I remembered Rule One: radical self-care. Militant and maternal kindness to one’s own time-consuming and annoying self.
I gave myself some encouragement, all but sang, “You can do it Cinderelli, Cinderelli.”
I bent in, and examined every spot in the front seat. I sat in both seats so I could skootch them backwards, and then beneath. It was a CSI car exam. Then I did the back seats. I frisked myself again. Looked through my wallet, and then my whole purse, again.
Finally, I decided to try and talk my way out past the guy in the exit booth. I mean, I do this for a living. I started the engine and headed toward the exit, passing a small man in a garage uniform on foot. I rolled down my window, and said, “Can you help me? ‘I’ve lost my ticket.”
He threw up his hands. “It’s 38 dollars.” I thought he was punking me at first, so I beamed, since we were now co-conspirators in the playful game.
“I know–but can you help me? I’ve been here less than an hour.”
He shook his head. “It’s 38 dollars for a lost ticket. All lost tickets. 38 dollars.”
I said I understand that, but I just really needed his help.
“No one can help you,” he said, like a voice from the crypt.
I wanted to smack him. Then I spoke verrrrrrry slowly, to help him grasp the nuances. “I’ve only been here fifty minutes. But I’ve lost my ticket, and I just need you to help me explain this.”
He spoke verrrry slowly, too, to help me better understand: “No…one…can…help….you.”
My entire childhood flashed before my eyes. I thought I might begin tearing at the flesh on my forehead.
“Okay,” I said coldly and began rolling up my window.
“No one could even help my BOSS,” he said. “My BOSS would have to pay 38 dollars.”
I nodded. I felt very crazy, victimized, misunderstood. I drove twenty feet, and then pulled over. I got out of the car. I frisked myself again, like Joe Friday. I bent in and examined the car, under the seats, the console, every fucking square inch of the tear. I got back in.
Maybe twenty minutes had passed. And then I remembered something—that I believe in God, in divine assistance, for the frazzled and mentally challenged, like myself. So I hung my head, and prayed.
I said, Look, God. I’ve got a problem. I’ve tried everything, but now I need you to step into this. Help me be okay with having to pay the 38 dollars; help me know that I need to do better next time, and keep better track of things. It would be great if we could somehow together find the ticket, but otherwise, help me not be such as Ass Hat. help me be a good sport, and just pay.”
After a minute, I started laughing quietly, sort of with and at myself simultaneously, gently. When I opened my eyes, there, on the floor of the passenger seat, was the little blue ticket.
“Oh, my GOD, Dude,” I said to God. “You are such a show-off.”
Then I drove to the exit booth, paid my five dollars, and dove up the ramp to the sunlight.
Anne Lamott, Facebook post – March 22, 2013