Part 1: Still learning
Have you ever made a small mistake which blossomed into a large problem? I did a few weeks ago.
I have made lots of mistakes in my life. I remember the time when I was 9 or 10 years old and my father took me to work with him. He was a plumber, and I learned to work hard by helping him on jobs where he needed someone to crawl under a house or into an attic with a very tight space, or by digging ditches to lay pipes. In Colorado pipes must be laid at least four feet under the ground because of the winter frost and I learned how to dig deep, straight ditches at a young age with a pick and shovel.
On the way to such a job we stopped at a burger joint where I bought a very large bag of fries. I loved fries, and still do, though I have to restrain myself from eating them now. I could eat them with impunity when I was digging ditches; now they migrate directly to my waistline. I ordered the biggest bag of fries on the menu, probably intended for a party of 10. On the way out I saw that they had little bags of salt and big bags of salt. Since I had a big bag of fries, I naturally took the big bag of salt and emptied it into my bag of fries, shaking it well to disperse the salt throughout. Once in the truck again, I happily dug into my bag of fries, only to discover that the big bag of salt was actually sugar. I was forced to eat my crisp fries covered with sugar, which substantially diminished my enjoyment. I learned two valuable lessons from that mistake: check it out before you eat it and there are no big bags of salt.
Perhaps I did not learn it too well. Many years later I was at a dinner meeting at a restaurant with a large group of people, where prime rib was served. I have always considered prime rib to be a delicacy, and it is usually served with a baked potato. My plate was served and I quickly removed the aluminum foil from my potato and broke it open. I like to prepare my potato while it is hot so the sour cream melts all over it. I quickly scooped up a delicious ball of sour cream and slathered it over my potato, my eyes glowing as it melted. Only when the first bite entered my mouth did I realize that my “sour cream” was in fact horseradish intended for the prime rib. Having no sense of smell, I could not tell until I actually tasted it. I like horseradish on my meat but it is not nearly as appetizing on a potato. Seeing my consternation, the waitress quickly came over and offered to remove my potato and replace it. Abashed as I felt, I would not allow her to waste expensive food and ate the potato as it was. Perhaps I felt to punish myself for acting so precipitously. Another valuable lesson learned, but again, none too well.
A few weeks ago I was asked to perform a wedding on a Saturday. I knew the groom and was happy to officiate for their special occasion. I met with the happy couple a few days earlier to go over details. I had them fill out a sheet to explain how the wedding would proceed. I also made sure that the event was properly registered on my portable calendar, which doubles as a cell phone. I entered the date and precise time, 6:30 p.m. We were all happy and excited about the event. My only problem was concern about the heat, since 6:30 p.m. in July usually means blistering heat, and it was an outside wedding. Nevertheless we confirmed the occasion and parted with expectations of a joyful wedding day.
To be continued . . .
Glade Roper is a Tulare County Superior Court Judge. He writes occasionally for The Recorder.