On Saturday, I got up for my run. The plan was to run four miles, so I planned to take the route I always take for a four-mile run: a one-mile circuit through the neighborhood that I call “Around the Town” and that takes me down to the park; then one lap on the nearly one-mile paved loop around the park; then a Two-Mile loop through a different part of town which brings me back home.
I went to the bathroom before I left. This might be TMI for some of you, but running makes me have to go to the bathroom. There aren’t always handy places to go when you’re out running, so I try to make sure I go sufficiently before I leave. I went, and I thought, I might need to go again before my run is over, but I figured that I’d be down at the park after one mile, and the park has restrooms. I’d be fine.
After my mile Around the Town, I did indeed need the facilities. I was happy to get down to the restrooms at the park… only to find the women’s room locked. “You have got to be kidding me,” I thought. It’s not like this was the middle of the night. It was between eight and nine in the morning. I turned and tried the men’s room, because let me tell you, I needed a restroom badly enough to not care that the stick figure on the door wasn’t wearing a skirt. Locked. I was angry. What is the point of having restrooms at the park if you’re not going to allow anyone to use them? So I had to run/walk back home (which thankfully is probably a quarter mile at the most) to use my own bathroom. I grumbled to myself most of the time, and made plans to call the town offices on Monday morning to express my displeasure.
Post-bathroom break, I was feeling much better physically, and I was hoping that the remaining miles in my run would shake the grumpies from my head. I ran the 2M-Loop, thinking now that if I just went three today instead of four, it wouldn’t be the end of the world, and feeling that I was going to boycott the park today just because I was mad. (I’m sure that boycotting the park made no difference to anyone but me, and in fact no one even knows I boycotted the park except for me and those of you reading this blog.) After three miles, though, I decided to go ahead and finish my four, so I went one more time Around the Town.
I was nearly finished, just a few blocks from my house, when I ran past Vine Street, where some friends of ours live… for now. They are moving out, and Maria was holding a yard sale to get rid of some of their stuff. As I crossed the street, I looked toward their house and saw Maria taking her bored eighteen-month-old for a little walk down the sidewalk. I ran toward them and stopped to chat. The little one started to fret, maybe because Mommy stopped walking, or maybe for some other reason. At that point, all of the stress that Maria has been feeling with moving, having some uncertainty and lots of changes in plans, and dealing with it all with two small children, overflowed and she started to cry. I tried to comfort her; I said some things that I hope were helpful and not trite; and I gave her a sweaty hug (she said she didn’t care that I was sweaty.)
I didn’t really know how to help, but I stuck around to chat with Maria while she manned her yard sale. Her husband had to work, and I’m sure it wasn’t much fun running a yard sale on a rainy day while watching two little ones. So I helped the littlest go up and down the steps, which he found to be great fun but isn’t very good at yet, and talked with Maria about a variety of topics until her dad showed up. Then I ran the last three blocks home.
So I was thinking later, if those bathrooms had been unlocked, I would have kept to my planned route and wouldn’t have passed Maria’s house, wouldn’t have stopped to talk, wouldn’t have been there to listen to her worries. I don’t know that I was a lot of comfort to her, but I would like to think that just by giving her a listening ear and an adult companion for a half hour or so, I helped her a little bit. Maybe God knew that’s what Maria needed on Saturday morning, so He made sure those bathrooms were locked so I’d have to divert from my plan.
But I still plan to call the town and complain.