I was low on gas and heading into work this morning, driving south on Summit with just a hint of dawn in the pale blue of a cloudless sky. A slight breeze twittered leaves along the chilly street. Just before I got to Kansas Avenue, I noticed the sign at Casey’s displaying “$1.77/gal” and decided I’d whip in and fill up the tank. With the nozzle set on the lowest notch, I headed inside for a breakfast snack.
The doors to the pastry cabinet were propped open in a not-to-subtle and terribly effective marketing ploy. The smells of caramel and chocolate mingled in with deep-fried yeast bread and blueberry muffins. I wanted an apple fritter but they were plastered with a thick cover of caramel. Yes, I’m aware that some people would love a thick layer of caramel on their apple fritters but I prefer mine with a simple, thin glaze. While contemplating this existential dilemma, I picked up a quart of chocolate milk.
I gave up on the pastry choice and started looking for peanut butter cracker snack packs. I am easily frustrated when searching for peanut butter crackers and distracted by the smell of fresh pastries. So, I compromised and picked out a blueberry muffin. After paying for breakfast, I bade the small group of employees clustered behind the counter a good day and made my way back out to the truck.
I decided to capture the historic gas price in digital transfixion and stepped out to take a picture of the sign. When I returned to my truck, another guy with gray whiskers yelled over at me from his truck, “Wanted a picture of these low prices, huh?” “Yep,” I yelled back. Not ready to give up conversation at that point, he yelled back, “You go down just across the state line into Oklahoma and it’s about fifteen cents cheaper.”
Oh, my! Talk about existential dilemmas!!
I searched for the reverse button on the pump so it could suck all the gas back out of my tank and I could drive for fifteen or twenty minutes in each direction and save myself a whopping buck-fifty. I couldn’t find the reverse button so I glumly pulled out the nozzle and set it back on the pump. Feeling quite ashamed of myself for having wasted my limited resources in such fashion, I recapped the gas tank and closed the covering lid, darkly envying all those who enjoyed the manifest blessings of buying gas in Oklahoma.
Actually, I reflected on how greed can rob us of even small pleasures. There’s hardly any fact or factor in this world that couldn’t reveal that someone, somewhere has some perceived advantage over us. Even in the land of famine, someone seems less hungry than us. Even in the land of plenty, someone else has more than us.
Truth be told, sometimes the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. That being the case, I guess that neighbor has to mow his grass more often than I do mine!
When we delight in the day the Lord has made and live in genuine appreciation, we can always find some situation in which to give thanks and be grateful.