A few hours after Sonya’s return I jumped an early plane to Orlando. I arrived exhausted, but in good spirits. While extricating my driver’s license to clear security I noticed the absence of money in my wallet. Zippo. Nada. The null set.
So after securing a rental car I darted through an ATM to get cash. You must have cash in Orlando to go anywhere, because as soon as you leave the confines of the airport you immediately encounter hungry tollbooths, which fiercely refuse plastic.
I make it to the Doubletree just fine. For each tollbooth encountered I diligently went through the cash line, where a kind person gladly accepted my money.
I had no reason to expect anything but the same on return this morning, but alas, the Orlando plague struck again. I exited for the airport, noted the sign that informed me the toll amount was $1, grabbed a $1 bill off of the seat next to me, and slowly rolled down the ramp.
Bad news. Very bad news. There was no person at this tollbooth, just a steel watering-trough-on-a-wall that only accepts coins for its diet.
I had no change. Silly me. I had forgotten to buy a roll of quarters to go along with the stack of bills from the ATM before venturing out into the wilds of Orlando.
In shame I assessed my alternatives. I could i) park it there. ii) get out of the car and work my way back through the line behind me to ask for quarters. The line was getting longer, so this showed promise, but I was too proud to try it. iii) jam the machine by throwing the dollar bill in my hand in their quarter-catcher. This would be a reasonable protest to one of the few places in America that only takes some forms of US currency, but not others, and this option was clearly the most emotionally desirable. I hate this.
But the conscientious side of me (what still remained) took over, and I elected to drive away, hoping to avoid jail time. The flashing red lights at my departure further endeared me to Orlando tollbooths.
As I stewed in anger over this experience, a thought flashed through my mind. It was from the 11th floor. Here it is: I bet every patient on the 11th floor would love to be at a place in life right now where they could be irritated by this tollbooth. Every one.
Irritants in life do this to us. They cause us to lose perspective. They enslave us, blind, us, and numb us to the sweet gift of life.
Tollbooths might not irritate you like they do me. You may like tollbooths. You may like them so much you have one by the side of your pool for decoration, and take Sunday drives to feed them.
But I’ll bet good money all of us have things that irritate us so much that we lose sight of the sweet gift of life. In fact, sometimes I think my life is more defined by my responses to irritants than a celebration of the sweet gift of life.
That’s one thing a journey on the 11th floor will do for all of us. If we let it, it will help us put irritants in perspective.
The sweet gift of life is wonderful. I need to be sure I never let irritants = my life