I often think about incompetence.
Tonight for instance, I thought about it a lot. I had plenty of time to do so because I was driving around Muncie for a 1.5 hours with two pecks of apples looking for a church with “Grace” in its name.
I cussed all the way to the west side of Muncie, and then back to the east side, and then to the south side for good measure.
The first church I walked into with my two pecks of apples, I was close to where I should’ve been – only two blocks away. One of the staff members of Teamwork for quality living, the group I was meeting with, was conducting a class there.
“Hi, Kelsey,” Carrie said. “Wrong church.”
This was neither a surprise to her nor me. The last two days I had called her twice for the phone number of the woman in charge of the dinner. I was charged with bringing dessert which had been decided should be apples, which is a lot of pressure. You’ve gotta find some darn good apples to be worthy of the “dessert” label. I took my job seriously and went to a local orchard. My two pecks were handpicked by apple experts.
I was proud of my pecks and I held them up as if I were Paul Revere signaling that the British were coming by sea. The peck of Jonathans in my right hand and the peck of Golden Delicious in my left simultaneously dropped as I realized that I was incompetent for the first time that evening.
Carrie pointed to the east and said something about Grace Church. I wasn’t sure where it was exactly, but I have an iPhone so I really don’t need to know anything whatsoever.
In my car, I typed “Grace Church Muncie, Indiana” into my phone and the directions said it was located five miles to the west.
Well, Carrie was in the basement and the stairs wound down two flights. It would be easy for her to get her directions mixed up. And everyone knows that basements are like the Bermuda Triangles to one’s mental compass.
Never mind that it is her job to know where the meetings are and to guide others to the meeting places. I have an iPhone and it said to drive in the exact opposite direction that’s what I was going to do.
At Grace church on the west side of town, I parked amid a few cars. A soccer game was wrapping up and I walked past the players to the church with my two pecks at my side. There was one player for every car and no one was in the church.
I think she said it was “Grace Baptist” maybe the church changed its name, so I’ll visit every Baptist church in Muncie. (The logic wasn’t good, I know. In fact, it’s not logic at all.)
There are a lot of Baptist churches in Muncie according to my iPhone. I drove into the empty parking lots of each of them and cussed. I cussed my way from church to church.
I called my wife, Annie.
“I’m driving around (expletive) Muncie with my (expletive) two (expletive) pecks of apples and I can’t find the (expletive) church.”
I’m pretty sure that it’s okay to use expletives before “Muncie” and “two” and “apple.” But in front of church?
Annie started laughing, the kind of laugh that I try really hard for but only get when I’m pissed about something stupid or injure myself.
And then the battery in my iPhone went dead.
Muncie isn’t that big. In 1.5 hours I probably could run the city’s perimeter, but I couldn’t find the Grace church that I needed to be at. I was an hour late already and every stoplight turned red on my approach.
I was in a hurry to go, but had no idea where I was going.
At one of the thousand of red lights, I looked in the rearview mirror. I looked me in the eye and we made a pact: We are going to find this church if we have to drive up and down every street in town. So we might as well calm down and keep our crap together because at this rate, we’re about to roll down the windows and start chucking apples at innocent passersby.
I took in a deep breath and made my piece with the world.
The light turned green and there it was…
The church was right where Carrie had pointed. I pulled into the parking lot laughing, not cussing. I walked into the church and held up my pecks.
Everyone was done eating and I was just in time for dessert.
The apples were delicious.
That’s a nice place to end the story, but I feel like saying some self-help BS here. If you’re not into it, stop reading. I’m not normally into that kind of thing either.
I embrace my incompetence and I think it’s one of my better traits. After all, there’s not that much difference between humility and humiliation.
In the only really negative review my book received, the reviewer pointed out how stupid I was when I asked Bibi Russell if she had met Gandhi. I could have left this out of the book. I could have painted me as a dude that knows everything, sealing over any of my gaps in knowledge in the writing process. Just as I could’ve walked into the Grace church and told Carrie that my car broke down, or my wife called with a mini-emergency, but I didn’t. I told Carrie about my 1.5 hour expedition to every church in town and she suggested the name for my next book, “Cussin’ to Church.”
I do stupid things. It’s funny. So I share them.
Someone slips on the ice and falls. You’ve all seen this. Who looks like the bigger tool: the person who hops up and limps off like nothing happen or the person who lies on the ground laughing? Who do you help up? Who do you ask it they’re okay?
There should be some kind of profound quote about laughing at yourself. Let’s take a shot:
If you can’t laugh at yourself who can you laugh at?
That seems like it’s probably taken. How about…
A joker’s folly is his greatest performance.
And something more Zen…
If an idiot is an idiot and no one is around to see it, is the idiot still an idiot?
Think you can do better? Give it a shot.