The afternoon was all mine. After a morning of errands and exercise, I settled down to lunch, and looked forward to four hours of time, my own time. I could do what I wanted. I felt pleasure in anticipating the freedom.
Just after I finished eating, my cell phone rang.
“My car won’t start,” Sharon said. “I’m up at the Chevron on Lako Street. Can you please come and take a look?”
I felt the disappointment, frustration and anger rise. No! No!
“I know. I know,” my wife said.
“I’ll be right there.”
“Right,” I grumbled.
I drove along Alii Drive and turned up Royal Poinciana Drive. I slowed at each of the precipitous and innumerable speed bumps on the street. I followed a landscaper’s truck that crawled along, pulling a wobbly metal trailer. “Hurry up! Get out of my way!” I growled to myself. I wanted to get to the gas station, take care of the problem, and return to the afternoon that I planned.
My wife was right. Her car would not start. I checked under the hood and saw nothing obvious.
“Guess we’ll have it towed,” Sharon said. “Let me call the mechanic.”
I looked in the glove compartment. I found the emergency roadside service telephone number, but I could not find a current insurance card.
“They are not answering,” Sharon said. “Can you please drive me to my meeting and pick me up at four?”
I felt my stomach clench and my throat tighten as my beloved afternoon shortened.
I drove my wife to her meeting and went home. I had at least three hours in my day to myself. I got into writing on my computer.
My cell phone rang.
“The mechanic said it might be the key,” Sharon explained. “Something about the computer chip not connecting with the ignition system.”
“Okay. We can check it out at four after I pick you up,” I said.
“Can you go now and try the spare key? If it isn’t the key, we will want to have the car towed as soon as possible. It is Friday afternoon.”
I could barely move my tongue in my torment. “That is the last thing in the world I want to do right now.”
“I do not want to drive back up Royal Poinciana over those stupid speed bumps and go back to that crazy-busy Chevron station.”
“Thank you. I really appreciate it,” my wife said.
“Right,” I mumbled.
If I could have thought of any way out, I would have. The situation had me.
I drove up the street, and over the monstrous bumps, behind yet one more creeping driver.
I pulled into the Chevron, which was not as busy as I anticipated. I tried the spare key. The car started. The problem was solved.
I drove back home (behind a low-riding car that had to stop and take each speed bump at a forty-five-degree angle).
When I got home, I had about an hour-and-a-half left in my afternoon.
I felt frustrated, cheated, and personally victimized by reality. I had an idea of what I wanted my day to look like, and life got in the way. This is precisely what Buddha meant by greed, anger and delusion. Craving, grasping, averting. Translation: suffering.
When I told my wife about it later, we both laughed.
“I knew you did not want to do it,” she said.
“It had nothing to do with you. I just had an idea about the way things were supposed to go and they didn’t.”
“I know. And I appreciate that you showed up.”