I’m predictable enough that no one thinks I’m unpredictable. I’m unpredictable enough to avoid being kidnapped in broad daylight. My phone isn’t configured to my location. I vary my routes. I don’t have set activities for each day of the week. However, I realized today that there is one flaw in my attempts to avoid potential kidnapping.
I was at the library, returning one set of books and checking out my latest holds when I realized the one way in which I’m utterly predictable. Actually, I didn’t figure it out – the librarian did.
“Thanks,” I said, when he finished checking out my books.
“See you next week,” he said.
No matter what, he will see me next week. I just can’t stay away. So let this be a warning to all future kidnappers – don’t take me in front of the library. It may seem like the easiest place to find me, but I’ve got people there who expect to see me soon. And if they don’t, they know something is terribly wrong. I’m predictable like that. And they know it.
I don’t have casual relationships. At least, not with my shoe repair store. It took my a few years to find my current place, and our relationship has been slow and rocky. The first few months were a honeymoon period – I’d bring them shoes and they’d fix them on the spot. They changed my watch band and made me three extra holes in it so that it could fit me. At the high point, they would nod in recognition when I entered the store, and stop what they were doing to wait on me.
Then we went through a rough patch – taps kept falling off my shoes, as they warned me might happen but which I still didn’t appreciate – and I considered giving up on the relationship and starting over someone else. But, after some time apart, and long consideration, I went back. The parts of the relationship I didn’t appreciate – that watches would continue to break and shoes need to be resoled – were not their fault. It wouldn’t be right to give up on something so promising when the failings were no one’s fault. So I went back. Their joy was palpable – smiling, they asked why it had been so long since they’d last seen me. That sealed it. While I’d always liked the gruff men who worked there, I didn’t know that they felt the same. Our feelings mutual, and my expectations managed, our relationship began to thrive.
I’ve been with them ever since. Now, past the highs and lows of our early time together, they continue to surprise me. Last week I brought them my watch to fix, not for the first time. They switched out some parts. They handed the watch to me, and I handed them the money. With a look and a head shake, they waved my money away. Because that’s the kind of relationship we’ve worked hard to establish.
City of Thieves
by David Benioff
Siege of Leningrad
can be survived, but really
that’s the least of it.
“Be the bigger bear.”
– Special Correspondent Dena
Dena always tells us to be the bigger bear. For years I assumed that that was a cute-and-fuzzy way of telling us to be the bigger person – to be gracious and generous even when our patience was frayed and kindness tapped out. But Dena kept saying that in situations when it seemed that gumption, not giving, was called for. So I finally asked what the motto meant.
“If you cross a black bear, grab some sticks and hold them over your head. Make the bear think that you’re the bigger bear. That way you’ll scare him off and win – and not die.”
That sounds more like the Dena we know. The one who knows that you aren’t a doormat – you’re a bigger bear. So be one.