Monday 6 October 2014

Grace and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

There’s a children’s book called “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” and one Thursday in August I was convinced that was my day.

That was my day before 11am.

Unlike Alexander I didn’t wake up with gum in my hair, nor did I trip over a skateboard. But as I walked to my car to drive to the office I was feeling overwhelmed, and I was juggling three or more bags with my laptop, stuff, dinner for friends and more.

And then I got to my car, parked a street away from my flat, where I routinely park.

And that’s when I saw the red thing on my front tyre.

In the book Alexander wants to move to Australia and right there, carrying too many bags, standing in the rain, I thought that sounded like a great idea.

Because, let’s be honest, getting your car clamped is a bad day in English. Getting your car clamped in a country where you feel like you have approximately zero of the words you require?

Rachael and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

So, I ripped the notice from my window and stomped home. I called my good friend Kristin and got out all the “I’m having the worst day in the whole entire world”. She was wonderfully sympathetic and was with our Czech teacher, and they were willing to make the call for me and deal with it. I decided that I needed to deal with this but I was grateful that I had back up.

And so I called the number. I had no idea what the notice said, but saw the word for “call” and there was a number. Here’s how the conversation went, translated from my bad Czech.

Policeman: “Good day”

Me: “Good day. I don’t have good Czech.”

P: “Well, I don’t speak English at all.”

M: [deep breath] “Well, I parked… on a street... in the centre and now I have… a red thing… on my… tyre.”

And, please know, I said tyre in English.

Well, we figured it out. Even though I’d forgotten the name of the street I parked on. And I think I understood I was to meet him at the car.

A few more minutes waiting in the rain later and the policeman arrived.

He spent a lot of time telling me to calm down, he asked how good my Czech was, and explained that they wanted to clean the street that morning and there had been a sign. A sign I’d missed.

He told me the regular fine for this was 2000kc (just under £60, or $100) and went into his car to write my ticket.

When he returned he told me the fine would be just 100kc (£3 or $5). I only had a 200kc note on me, and he didn’t have change. So instead he walked to the shop at the corner of the street and returned with 100kc change.

As I drove away I was so grateful for grace – grace that my language helped me survive this interaction, grace from the police officer, grace from God.

And then I got onto the motorway/highway to the office. Northern Irish people may know the company Sawyers who sell fish and have a shop behind Boots in Belfast. It’s a store that has a lot of memories from my childhood and my granny.

Well, in my little town on the border of Czech and Poland there was a Sawyers lorry (truck) – complete with a Northern Irish number plate.

It felt like crazy grace that reminded me of all the places grace had beautifully shown up that morning.

I’m grateful for the grace that overwhelms terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. And thankful that it reminds me I do not want to move to Australia.

No comments:

Post a Comment