Saga

“Alright, let’s go around and say our highs, lows, and God moments of the week.”

This has always been a prompt I’ve dreaded in Bible study, not because I don’t like sharing about my life with others, but mostly because I never have anything that happens to me that is of significant importance to share.

That is…until this past week.

This past week has been one of extremes in terms of emotions. It was literally a high, low, and God moment all wrapped into one. I’m writing what happened for those who are willing to listen so that maybe you can learn something from it, or if not, then just find some amusement and satisfaction out of it like I already have.

Let’s flashback to Friday. It was after my last class, and at this point, I was exhausted. I was in that mood where I was annoyed with everyone and everything and just ready for a restful, relaxing weekend. My three roommates invited me to go to a haunted house with them after their musical theatre master class, but after hearing it was $30 to get into the door, I decided against it (I’m just a poor college student) and opted to stay in and get ahead on homework and lettering orders. Talk about a crazy Friday night. My friends left for their master class at around 5ish, and I got pretty bored and lonely soon after they left. And since I hadn’t been grocery shopping in what seems to have been decades, I decided to pack my backpack and camp out at the Panera Bread down the street. Homework and broccoli cheddar soup is always a win-win in my book. I got to Panera, parked in a Panera-Bread-Customers-Only parking spot (this becomes relevant later), went inside and ordered my food from the very nice Assistant Manager, then sat down and got in the zone. If you’re wondering, I got zero homework done, but it’s fine. Instead, I hand lettered a cool thing. I watched vlogs by my favorite YouTubers. I ate soup and a salad. Life was good. Or so I thought. I glanced up out the window that overlooked the parking lot. My eyes skimmed over the Panera-Bread-Customers-Only parking spots where I had parked my car. With the exception of one car which was not mine, they were all empty. All the spots were empty. My car was gone!

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The cool thing I lettered feat. my salad, which was delicious

At first, I thought I was delusional. Maybe I parked somewhere else, I thought. But I soon realized I was not delusional, that I was in fact sane, that I had actually parked there. I packed up my things so fast, which was a true challenge because all of my belongings were spread out everywhere. I grabbed my stuff and sprinted outside to the Panera-Bread-Customers-Only parking spot that my car had formerly occupied. My mind was racing and was probably filled with some pretty un-Christian words. I was furious, but even more, I was terrified. Who am I supposed to call first? How am I supposed to tell my parents someone had stolen my car? Should I call the cops? My interrogation of myself was interrupted by a nice couple dining at SATCO:

“Were you parked there?”/”Yeah!”/”Oh no way, they towed your car.”/”WHAT?!?!”/”Were you in Panera?!”/”YES!!!”/”You’re kidding, that’s ridiculous! Talk to that guy in the Jeep, he did it.”

There’s that conversation. I stormed over to the guy in the Jeep. I think he worked for security, but even now I’m still not too sure. He was very nice and guided me inside to where he talked with the Assistant Manager. After awhile, he told me my car had been towed by Panera after the General Manager asked everyone if it was their car and no one said anything. They’d been having the problem of SATCO/other non-Panera customers taking up their spots. Wait, hold up. I had been sitting in Panera for around an hour, and no one asked me anything. Or else I surely would have said something, because no one wants their car towed. The security guy gave me the number for the towing company and told me that at this point there was nothing Panera could do. I called the towing company and talked to a man with a gruff voice who informed me I would have to pay $125 in cash to pick up my car at this address. I was infuriated. In angry tears, I demanded to speak to Panera’s AM. She was no help at all; even after explaining the situation to her, she was very unwilling to empathize and didn’t try to help a girl out. “Call back on Sunday and I’ll let you know what we can do…at best, we can reimburse you $75,” she said, even though she was the one who took my order and more likely than not knew I had been at Panera the whole time. COOL, right?

The problem then became that I had to find someone to drive me 5 miles to pick up my car which was previously parked, and rightfully so, in a Panera-Bread-Customers-Only parking spot. This was a problem because everyone I would have called was busy: my roommates and other friends were going to the haunted house, and several of my other friends were at a res hall talent show. The situation seemed bleak until one of my friends said he could pick me up (hi David, you’re my hero and I owe you big time). We drove to the tow lot which was very sketchy. There, I paid $125 in cash to get my car back, which was good because I got my car back, but really bad because a night in which I was aiming to avoid spending $30 turned into one in which I was forced to spend over $130.

Fast forward to Saturday. The events of Friday night resulted in me harboring so much anger and frustration. I ran over the night’s situation in my head countless times- was there something, anything, I could’ve done differently? I was taken over by anxiety and guilt that followed me the remainder of the day, which was in unfortunate timing because that Saturday was Preview Day, and since I’m a Bruin Recruiter I had to act extremely excited and preppy for all of the prospective Bruins, even though I felt the exact opposite.

It’s Sunday. I called the AM like she told me to, and at this point I was just ready to get a definite answer. Even if it was not the news I wanted to hear, I think I actually would’ve been okay with receiving $75 because I would’ve gotten around half of my money back as well as a resolution to a very annoying situation. But when I called, the AM told me the GM was talking to his superior and told me to call back on Monday for a definite answer. Okay, I thought, if the GM is talking to his superior that must mean he’s trying to work out something, right?

Now it’s Monday. I tried to call Panera four different times, but each time I got the busy tone on the other side. My frustration mounting, my parents graciously volunteered to call the AM for me, and they got through. And you know what happened next? The AM told my parents that I told her I left Panera for one and a half hours. One and a half hours. Okay, seriously? This was insanity: the AM distorted the truth and made the story into something completely different, not to mention completely wrong. And why would I tell her that if I actually did? That would’ve ruined whatever I had been fervently fighting for in the first place. At this point, I truly believed there was nothing more that could be done, that I’d have to settle for the $75 the AM initially offered. But my dad still wanted to talk to the GM, so maybe there was a sliver of hope.

Tuesday rolls around. Dad left a message for the GM to call him, but he never did.

Then comes Wednesday. I got a call from my dad during convo hour with the best news I’d ever heard: the GM was going to give me a full reimbursement. That was music to my ears. All at once, all the burdens of stress and anxiety that had built up as a result of Friday’s incident were lifted off my shoulders. I ecstatically went to Panera after Genetics lab to collect my money. It felt oh so good.

Why did I go through all the effort to write down this saga that was my week? I honestly have no idea. It’s kind of a boring and over-dramatacized story, but it was important for me. This was the first time I really had this kind of a “low”: one where I was practically alone in an unprecedented and intimidating situation. I have been fortunate in life thus far to not have had any devastating events directly impact me; I have been blessed with good health, a supportive family who loves me, and stability in my life. Though this Panera story is absolutely nothing compared to what some people may go through once in a lifetime or even possibly on a daily basis, it was a big reminder to me that bad things happen. They happen, and we get blindsided. We don’t see it coming, but when it comes, it hits us hard. And yes it’s the worst, mainly because for awhile, things feel like they’re spiraling out of our control. It feels like there is no hope for a better outcome. This past week was also a gentle reminder to me that despite all of my efforts, I am not in control. I am not in control because there is Someone greater than me Who is. I can ultimately find security, strength, and redemption in the One who holds the whole world in His hands. Isn’t it great that there is healing where the Lord is?

Those are just some comforting insights I gained from the events of this past week. And to top it all off? A high even higher than Mt. Everest. That Wednesday night, I was expecting some of Kashi’s friends from Highlands. When I walked out to introduce myself, *surprise!!* Kashi was there too. (That guy just continues to amaze me, I am a very lucky girl.) It was a fun, rejuvenating night of new friends, fellowship, really good food, and a lot of laughter. A lot of laughter as in laugh-until-you-can’t-breathe-and-you’re-actually-developing-abs kind of laughter.

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The Highlands crew and I

That was my week. A big bundle of anger, disappointment, frustration, gratitude, and excitement. I hope that yours wasn’t as much of a rollercoaster as mine was. And if it was and still is, it will get better! I know for some people it isn’t this simple, but sometimes all it takes is a little perseverance and a lot of prayer. As cheesy as that may sound, it’s true. It also takes an army; find your support system, whether it is your family or best friend, and vent to them. It never helps to hold negative emotions inside of you. I’m guilty of this all the time and I can say first-hand that the side effects are never good. Also, listen to their advice – it never hurts to get an objective opinion on things.

If you’ve read this far, I seriously commend you because this was the longest, strangest, most rant-y piece I have ever written. You’re awesome.

And I need to end here: the homework I didn’t get finished at Panera is waiting for me…

you are loved more than you will ever know by someone who died to know you -romans 5:8

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