The Fickle Finger of Fate


Lately, I’ve been reminded of the saying “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.”

With so much uncertainty on the employment front (I may or may not be transferred to another city), it is difficult to make a decent decision on any matter, large or small, leaving me feeling as wishy-washy as Charlie Brown.

We awoke to a hot Saturday morning and felt the urge to get out of town for a couple of days.  There is just not a lot to do in this remote desert town.  Without a movie theatre or a shopping mall for a hundred miles, about the only public place to get out of the heat and into the air conditioning is a restaurant.  And we only have a few of those, mostly overpriced, visited by us over and over for the past three years.

We thought about heading to Phoenix to see a movie, maybe do some shopping (we have some things to return to Wal-Mart), have a good dinner, stay overnight and drive back after breakfast on Sunday.

We have been through this routine dozens of times.  Sometimes it’s Phoenix, sometimes it’s Yuma, or it could be Nevada or over to the Coachella Valley.  Anywhere but here, our sizzling, baking, boring town.

My wife urged me to hurry up, and I jumped in the shower.  By the time I was ready, we had decided that despite the fun of this sort of spontaneity, it might not be such a great financial idea.  When you figure on three meals out, a hotel room, movie tickets, shopping, two tanks of gasoline and incidentals, this little jaunt would likely run us a couple hundred bucks at least.  We wisely decided to stay home and crank the air conditioning.  My wonderful wife roasted some vegetables for me and I went out to Starbucks to bring her home her favorite iced tea.

Now we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to handle our upcoming vacation.  Although I haven’t yet discussed it on this blog (fear not, I will), I am a crazy Scrabble addict who loves nothing better than wandering all over the West playing in Scrabble tournaments.  There’s a big one coming up in the Bay Area, about eight hours drive from here.  Now that we may have to move, however, we are seriously debating the wisdom of spending the large sum of money that this little venture would require.  Not only that, but we have my niece’s high school graduation to attend right after that, and I’m not so sure it would be a good idea to take so much time off of work when change is in the air.  My vacation time has already been approved, mind you, but the thought of being away from the office for two weeks right now leaves me queasy.

Sometimes you just have to sit on it, stay put, preserve the status quo and see what happens.  So now it’s Sunday, we’ve been spending the weekend at home doing a whole lot of nothing, and we wake up and decide to go out to breakfast.  This sounds like a great idea, particularly since a coupon for a free Everyday Slam printed out with our receipt on our last visit to Denny’s.  I start salivating at the thought of fried potatoes, grits and eggs.

It was only 11:00 a.m., but the mercury had already risen to 106°F out here in the desert.  We jumped into old Holly, blasted the A/C and drove down to the end of town where Denny’s sits next to the freeway entrance.

As we turned into the parking lot, we noticed that all the parking spaces near the door were taken.  Driving around the lot, we quickly figured out that there were no spaces available at all.  A vehicle occupied every single parking space.  As we drove past the entrance, we noticed a line of customers standing inside the door and sitting on the banquettes, all waiting for tables.

Oh, that’s right, it’s Mother’s Day!  Our mothers both live hundreds of miles away, so we weren’t going to be seeing them today.  We had already sent out cards and we would call them later.  But just try to get into a restaurant for brunch.

We drove down the street to the Sizzler, only to find the same scene we had just experienced at Denny’s.  While it used to be that Dad made breakfast for Mom on Mother’s Day, or else the kids brought Mom breakfast in bed, it seens that these days the way of the world is to take Mom out to eat.  Even if it means standing in line for an hour.

If you’re not a mother, and you’re not visiting your mother, you’re just plumb out of luck.  And so, like our spur-of-the-moment weekend plans and our Scrabble tournament vacation plans, our Sunday brunch plans evaporated before our very eyes.

It doesn’t matter if you plan for months or make a spontaneous decision.  Either way, fate gets the last laugh.


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