Inventory on Route 33

“I never went to bed in my life and I never ate a meal in my life without saying a prayer. I know my prayers have been answered thousands of times, and I know that I never said a prayer in my life without something good coming of it.”

Jack Dempsey, Heavyweight Boxing Champion 1919-1926

“Why is the car slowing down?” I asked myself. My foot is still on the gas pedal.

The car itself answered my question a moment later. It said,”Clink, clack, and clunk” before coasting to a stop.

Then the car quit speaking to me altogether. The battery was dead and wouldn’t even make a squeak when I turned the key.

I was thirty miles from home on a stretch of highway that had no lights. The AAA answered my call and said they could rescue me in about two hours. Now what? The sky was pitch black with a small sprinkling of stars. I started considering the possibilities I had for passing the time. If I got out of the car I could end up a meal for a wild coyote or worse yet the infamous Bogeyman that grown ups had been warning me about might seize this opportunity to take me prisoner. After a quick phone call to my wife, I decided the best use of my time would be to stay in the car and count my blessings.  

Four years ago I had accepted a job as an educational assistant in the city school system where I lived. It had been advertised as an ideal job for a senior citizen like me. Pick the days you wanted to work, pick the school you wanted to work at. It sounded like fun and I had a vision that I was going to sit in a corner with a young child and help him or her learn how to spell cat. Boy, did I get that one wrong.

From the get go I was working with special needs children. Thank God I had some great teachers supervising and feeding me encouragement. It was the most challenging adventure of my life. And you’re talking to someone who was in the marines and married to a redhead. The bottom line is it became very hard to complain about anything after spending the day with children who were blind, sitting in a wheel chair, autistic, emotionally damaged or abused.

So I passed some time gazing at the stars and saying the names of the kids I had worked with. Comparing the struggles these children and their parents face everyday made a broken down car seem like something to rejoice about. If that was the worse part of my day, so what. The car could be repaired and I was unhurt.

Beginning with food, clothes, shelter, alive, living in the USA with a great wife, family and friends – it doesn’t take me long to realize counting my blessings is the most important math I will ever do.