Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The kindness of strangers is overrated

Over the summer I ventured into the city of Lockport. Normally I spend as little time in Lockport as possible, it’s not that I don’t like Lockport; it’s just that there isn’t much to do there. For some reason, the one main strip they have in the city catches fire often, I believe due to the fact that it is so depressed that no one visits. They have a vacuum store on State Street, but that doesn’t even appear to have the pull it used to have.

While in the city I was out door knocking and introducing the church I attend IN Lockport to the city OF Lockport. You would think at one point the two would have met, or at least waved to one another but in most instances, neither knows the other is there. Some people think, “Why Craig, that’s really strange.” Or “Why would you want to do that?” or my personal favorite “This is a Baptist church? You guys use tambourines in your service and stuff?”

Sadly there are no tambourines, but I have a deep desire to see people end up in a church that they enjoy going to. I have lived long enough to see what it’s like when a person does not have a church home. After my Grandfather passed away on my Dad’s side, we had a Rent-a-Rev come in and ask us nice things about my Grandfather. He scribbled notes down to try to assemble some aspect of my Grandfather’s life together and I thought for a moment how nice it would be that someone in some clergy actually had known my Grandfather. During the service it seemed so impersonal. Like a funeral Ad-Lib where you insert the noun and verb and adverb and come up with a story of the person’s life.

Now if you’re an atheist, I understand that a person who is a practicing well, anything seems pointless to you. But when you die I am sure you want people to say nice things about you. Like how hopeful you were for the future and stuff.

Back to Lockport though. Ending up on a street the first house I came to and knocked a woman came to the door. I introduced myself, said where I was from and asked her if she attended church anywhere. She proceeded to tell me yes and then began telling me how her son passed away recently, and that she really missed him and would like prayers from our church. She then asked if I liked puzzles.


“Yes! Do you like them? My son and I use to do them all the time.”

Oh no…puzzles. I sort of guessed where this might be going. You see, to me a puzzle will inform you how obsessive compulsive you are. How something that sits on your kitchen table unfinished is just a physical manifestation of your failures in life and how you never completed anything, The very fact that the puzzle not being finished shows you don’t care enough about it to take care of it and see it develop into what it should be and that is why your puppy ran away and got run over. Oh no….puzzles and I, we don’t hang.

“Of Course I LOVE puzzles!”

How could I not like puzzles? Obviously an important activity between her and her son I was not about to tell her that puzzles and I have never gotten along. ‘Wait right here!” she said and walked back into her house.

No sooner can you say “I wish she was a catholic who thought I was a Jehovah Witness” does she come back to the door with not 1 but 3 puzzles.

“These were the last 3 I ever finished and would like you to have them.”

SIGH….why couldn’t she and her son had collected large screen televisions…

I take the puzzles, thank the lady and am on my way. When I get home I show the kids my prize, thinking they will take these puzzles and lose them. They disappear for several months never to be thought of again.

That is, until Brandon brought one out last week. He was sitting in the living room putting the pieces together and I saw him developing the same relationship I had with puzzles. No sir, the cycle of abuse must end now, we shall be victorious. I inform Brandon to put the puzzle back in its box (he had only take out a few pieces and it wasn’t hard to put away).

Brandon, Katie and I spent the past couple of nights assembling this puzzle. It has 3 horses on it. Running free on a beach somewhere. They look happy, content to be in puzzle form.

I immediately turn on my advanced puzzle making skills, taught to me many years ago. Build the border first. Yes…preciousss…the border first. You cannot bring order to chaos without a boundary. Without it, the Great Nothing will consume the 3 horses, and the beach they are on with the childlike empress and your puppy is run over again with your parents just telling you he ran away. The Border first!

After 1 hour the border almost assembled of this 300 piece puzzle and there is a missing piece. The border is incomplete.

I swear to you I wanted to quit right here. I already assessed the remaining pieces and none of them was the final border piece. My mind went into fix it mode…did Brandon lose it? Can it be on the floor? Is it at the puzzle lady’s house? Can I go over there and check for it? Would she mind?

I didn’t say anything to the kids, Katie had joined us and they were happily building out the 3 horses. But I knew, it didn’t matter. Even if you assembled the entire puzzle, by default it will not be complete. It’s unfinished.

Over the course of 2 days and a night the children went to bed and I furiously fit the rest of the pieces together to have ended up with 2 missing pieces. The border and a horsey is missing his femurs.

Now what’s the moral of the story? Could I call the manufacturer and request those pieces specifically? No, they are already out of print. Could I find the same puzzle at a garage sale and grab those two pieces? No, then I will have 1 complete and 1 incomplete puzzle. Was the lady at the door an agent of Satan and knew of my complex and gave me incomplete puzzles? Maybe…but I doubt it.

No. The Moral is children that when you go to anyone’s door, ever, for any reason, take nothing from them unless it is hermetically or factory sealed.

Honestly though, I enjoyed the time with my kids. Katie is 10 and Brandon is 7 and I will never have this time with them again. I am thankful that we were able to have fun together, just like the previous owners did.