While living in a Kenyan village in the late 80s, I often traveled by “matatu.” A matatu is a small truck with a cab rigged onto the back. Folks climb in, and when the thing is full, the driver heads down the road. This form of travel has it’s dangers and is not for the easily frayed. The “departure time” is “when the truck is full.” And “full” is a subjective term, which could involve people hanging off the back, a goat braying in the middle of the cab, or sitting check-to-jowl with 25 people in a space designed for 10. My friend Viddy, with whom I often traveled, when the loading of the matatu got absurd, would say, “Could be worse!” Viddy had a great sense of humor, and she’d seen it all, so I followed her lead in laughing rather than getting steamed up about the craziness.
I was reminded of Viddy’s “Could be worse!” exclamation this afternoon when the fire alarms went off at the church where I serve. I lept up to see what was going on, forgetting to save the document I’d been working on for about an hour. I gathered on the lawn with the Haitian women who had been cooking stew for hours in the kitchen and the children of the preschool that meets in the lower level. Just after I had called the fire department, a huge thunderstorm started. Huge. The preschool director moved the children from one spot to another trying to keep them from getting drenched. Once the firemen had determined the church building was fine (still not sure what tripped the alarm), I realized that a huge piece of glass which had been resting in the drying rack on the sink had shattered all over the sink and the counter.
Could be worse!
Everyone is safe. No fire. That counts for a lot.
I haven’t seen Viddy in 25 years. But she still helps me keep things in perspective. And when I get home tonight, I’m going to pull out this classic kids’ book, which is also a good lesson in remembering to complain about and fear the things we should complain about and fear, and to let go of the rest. Stay dry, everyone!