I asked myself a hundred times why putting something — even a three-foot tall air cooler — back into its original box could possibly defy every blessed effort. After an hour, I finally texted my neighbor Macrina. She had the whole reboxing done and the unit in the back of my car within three minutes. I tried not to feel inadequate as I thanked her and got ready to drive into Lodi.
The little gaggle of customers at the UPS store stood in a vague line staring at the red-headed clerk and a flustered woman with chalk on the back of her pants. I occupied the enviable position of next to be helped, but the boy kept shuffling between a computer to one side and the counter, earnestly conversing with the lady as her hair drifted from a loose ponytail. I contemplated the two-wheeler standing by the back wall, figuring the odds of my navigating the box from my car without costing myself a two-hundred dollar refund.
Two more customers swung through the door, stopping cold at the sight of us. I grew increasingly concerned about asking the store employee for help with six other people waiting and him clearly alone. I turned and announced that I needed to get a large box inside, and wondered if anyone might assist. The guy behind me, big, burly, with a small package balanced on his foot, looked down and over at something fascinating just beneath the parcel.
“I’d be glad to help,” I heard, and sought the face of the volunteer. A pudgy man, who looked as though he might be only slightly more capable than I am, grinned at me. Out at the car, he hoisted my package onto his shoulder. I recalculated my opinion of him as I dashed over to the entrance just as the lady who had been in front of me emerged.
A few minutes later, I headed towards the drugstore, grateful for the absolute ease of the return process. I tucked the receipt into my glove compartment at a red light, turned east, and starting looking for the CVS. As I drove, I had a sickening recollection of my new ATM card sitting on the desk in my writing loft. I shook my head. Up, down; good, bad; easy, hard. I did not have the energy to go into the bank to make my deposit. It would have to wait for the next trip into town.
I caught sight of my eyes in the rear view mirror as I parked. My head fell forward onto the steering wheel. I sat completely still for the span of three long breaths. It’s going to be all right, I whispered. Everything is going to be all right. I resisted the temptation to recite a litany of those items as to which the outcome remained hauntingly uncertain.
On the way back to the island, I made an illegal turn into a Starbucks drive-through. Sometimes I just need a tall Americano. I nursed the drink over both bridges and onto the levy road. I turned Neko Case louder as I made my way between the shimmering river and the wide stretches of summer cropland.
It’s the second day of the fifty-fifth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.