Opinion

Those laughable moments

I knew it was going to be a day to remember, a day to reflect upon for years to come, a day to celebrate with a strong belly laugh or two — and indeed it was. 

It all began with a visit to a grocery store, where I purchased a few necessities for myself and Mrs. Ouellette, my former mother-in-law. She adores Chinese food, so I called in a takeout order from the nearby Chinese restaurant. Once my groceries were in place in my car, I walked gingerly over to the restaurant and picked up the order, pushing through the slushy snow wearing my new sneakers, which I might add are not at all suitable for such meandering. 

I placed the food in the back of the car with the groceries, making sure everything was snug. I plodded around the back bumper and slid behind the steering wheel, noticing the scrumptious scent of the Chinese cuisine wafting toward me from the back. I headed toward the exit. I heard the warning sound from my vehicle safety center, and assumed the alert was in regard to my unfastened seat belt. When the alarm continued, I knew there was an additional need for concern. From nowhere, a small white car drove on my right hand side, the driver pointing toward the back of my SUV. Uh-oh! I had not closed the back door. I thanked the driver of the car and reached for the control to close the hatch. 

The whole incident reminded me of the scene in “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” when John Candy and Steve Martin are headed down the highway, and are incessantly warned by a driver on the other side of the median that they are “going the wrong way.” Little did I know a comedy of my very own was about to play out within minutes. 

I reached my destination, parked my car, and got out to retrieve one bag of groceries and of course, the decadent Chinese food. My eyes scurried from one corner of the back cargo area to the other. No brown paper bag containing the food was seen. I blinked several times before realizing and acknowledging that the food was, quite simply, missing. And I knew exactly where it was: back in the parking lot of the shopping plaza. It had undoubtedly slid right out of the cargo space and right onto the snow-covered drive. 

I stood there for a moment as the reality of my situation hit, along with a visual of that packaged food shooting out of the back end of my SUV as I drove away in absolute oblivion. I shook my head and went back to the driver’s seat, remembering to close that back hatch, a move I never intended to miss again. 

I called Mrs. Ouellette on my cell phone, explained the situation, and decided I would get her second favorite takeout lunch: a fish filet and fries. I drove by that side entrance to the plaza, not daring to glance to my right to see if I could spot the bag of food lying there on the snowy drive, abandoned and inedible. I laughed out loud, finally able to see the humor beyond the humiliation of forgetting to close the car door.

All went well with our lunch date. We laughed a great deal about the fate of the Chinese food, and Mrs. Ouellette ate her fries and sandwich with gusto. When I left her, I must admit I went back to the plaza yard, just to make sure that food was not scattered about like some whimsical signature left behind by a woman clad in a pink coat, shuffling through the heavy snow in new sneakers. The food, of course, was nowhere to be found.

My friends, there are moments in life when we readily berate ourselves for a wrong decision, a forgotten task, an inappropriate word, or any number of faux pas we commit as human beings. As I grow older and somewhat wiser, I have given myself a gift of sorts: permission and ability to laugh at myself.

In the everyday flurry of life, we sometimes take ourselves way too seriously. There is no shame in harmless human error. Granted, that food that fell out of the back of my car could have been a Godsend for a hungry individual, and perhaps with that in mind, I will surprise someone at a drive-thru by picking up the tab for their order. Maybe I will pay for a pizza delivery or anonymously send someone a restaurant gift certificate. 

Regardless, I will not be too hard on myself. I will turn this around and cushion my carelessness with a good deed and a smile. 

Please be safe and remember to be kind, not only to others, but also to yourself.

Belinda Ouellette lives in Caribou with her Goldendoodle, Barney.  You may email her at belindaouellette9@gmail.com.

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