Old People Don't

I wanted to wake him up and tell him that it was okay that he wouldn’t be who I tried to get him to be, that it was okay that he didn’t cooperate with me all the time - that ashes don’t, old people don’t, why should little boys?
— Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies

I had the privilege of hanging out with two different Taylors this morning. How 'bout that? 

The first was a new friend I met at church recently, and whom I met for breakfast at Tandem this morning. After we ate, we took her baby and Sailor in the strollers for a walk on the trail. It was delightful and easy conversation, and perfect fall weather. I'm grateful to have the kind of margin in my life at the moment that lets me out the door on a Tuesday morning, to follow where a new friendship might lead. 

The second Taylor was at the library on our way home from the walk. Sailor and I stopped to get a few books and DVDs and ran into an old acquaintance I met months ago. I was thankful that her name popped into my mind at just the right time. Taylor and her three cute little A-name girls in their matching monogrammed Halloween shirts, who had come to the library for Story Time, were checking out a few books before leaving. We stood by the checkout area and chatted and remembered how we met and planned for a future Story Time together. 

It felt planned by someone bigger than myself that the only two Taylors I know would match the same morning. And right between these two pleasant exchanges was one old and ornery librarian. 


I usually choose to do the self-checkout machine at the library for fear of getting stuck with a slow-moving, ultra-conscientious librarian who opens every book and DVD and takes twice or thrice as long to check us out. Today, however, I opted to give the lady behind the desk a try. Oh dear. From the get-go, I realized she wasn't the nice old lady I had hoped for. She got on Sailor right away for accidentally placing her books on the scanner mat too soon. Then she decided to sit and wait for Sailor to take everything out of the bag and stack it on the counter before she would proceed any further. It felt like an eternity, and once the librarian was finally ready to begin, it was her "Only four books at a time" order that annoyed me.

I hate to feel slowed down - even though I know it's good for me. But it grates on me when someone is following an arbitrary rule and tells me I should follow it too. Before long, the librarian said my card wouldn't allow any more DVDs to be checked out, and rather than finish putting the remaining books on the card, she proceeded to sign out of my account. I was annoyed even more by this because I had wanted her to put all the books on the same card so that I had less materials on different accounts to keep up with for renewals. Once she handed me the receipt, I told her I'd take the remaining stack to the self-checkout and use a different card. And off Sailor and I went, a quick turn behind us, and finished our processing there.

But now my mind was processing, too, about how quick I was to become annoyed by an old lady just doing her job the best she knew how. I stacked my stack eight books high under the self-scan light, on purpose, just because I could break the rule on my own. And I could feel my heart breaking a little bit, too. Breaking from not being gracious and kind, from not being more patient, from not letting the old lady be the old lady in the transaction. I don't have to be right or quick or first. I don't have to have it my way. I forgot those truths for a few minutes this morning, but the Holy Spirit did a little heart inspection and had a word with me. And then Anne Lamott had a word for me as well. 


It's okay that old people don't cooperate all the time. And it's okay that I don't cooperate all the time either. I am sometimes childish and immature, but God is bigger than my weaknesses and remains steadfast during my lapses. I say it each Sunday at church, during the time of Confession: We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. And come this Sunday, I will remember the librarian when I say I'm sorry. 

Thank you, God, for two Taylors on a Tuesday and for a librarian to teach me about loving my neighbor.