For those of you paying attention, you’ll recall I’ve mentioned that I’m going through a divorce. I will not be maudlin and pontificate about any of the details here. I am only writing about it at all because Tuesday was the day when I got to file the paperwork making our divorce final, which involved a trip the Burbank Court House. And hilarity ensued…
It seemed wise to get a leg up on the lunch-time crowd, so I left work at 11:15 to file my one form. The experience started with the security guard at the front door, a 300+ pound African-American man, 60 if he was a day, who looked me up and down as I walked through the security gate and said in a slow drawl, “I like your shoes.” Eew.
I made my way upstairs to the Clerk’s Office which was blissfully free of people. I walked up and handed my form to the woman at the counter. She didn’t even glance at me before she stamped it and handed it back and said, “We need three copies and two self-addressed stamped envelopes.” Excuse me? “Where can I do that?” I asked, to which she replied, “There’s a Fed Ex Kinkos down the street.” Great.
So I made my way back downstairs, past the creepy security guard who leered at me the whole time, out the door and down to the next block to the Fed Ex Kinkos. I made my copies easily enough, bought an entire box of envelopes (a pity, since I have thousands at home that my Mom gave me after an unnecessary trip to B.J.’s Wholesale Club about 9 years ago), and asked the man at the counter for stamps. The whole time there was some woman who thought she was ahead of me in line yelling at the poor guy. He instructed me to the ATM machine next door to buy stamps (how convenient!). Done! Easy peasy! Crisis averted!
I made my way back to the court house and walked through the gate as the security guard said, “There’s those shoes again.” Eew. Back upstairs in the Clerk’s Office, it was starting to get crowded – they had one window of a possible seven open and there were about four people in line. I hastily started filling out my two envelopes, at which point my pen ran out of ink. I grabbed one of their pens which was out of ink too. I finally found a working pen, finished filling out the envelopes and added an excessive amount of stamps to each just to be on the safe side. This task completed, I got back into the line. It was at this point that I looked down at my three copies of my form and noticed that I’d left the original form on the copy machine at Fed Ex Kinkos. I believe my reaction upon realizing this was to yell “Damn it!” and run out the door, but I can’t be totally sure since I was getting into a bit of a tizzy by that point and actually contemplated pretending one of the copies was the original so I wouldn’t have to walk by the security guard again.
Of course, being a perfectionist and a nerd, I didn’t do that. I marched myself back downstairs and was relieved to see the security guard leaving – it must have been his lunch break. I ran by him in case he was thinking of asking me to join him. Then I ran to Fed Ex Kinkos, grabbed my original form, and ran back into the court house. Back upstairs in the Clerk’s Office, the line was literally out the door. There had to be at least ten people in front of me.
And this is when the story takes an unexpected turn for the better. A woman at the front of the line said, “Ma’am, you can come up here.” I think I looked at her like she was from another planet, and she said, “You didn’t hear me before, but I said I would hold your place for you.” I said, “But what about all of these people?” And she said, “It doesn’t matter, you were here first.” I’ll never see her again, but I kind of love that lady.
I am often reminded that so many things in life come down to your own perception and choices. My grandfather, 96 years old and an inspiration if ever there was one, is forever telling me to be happy and to “always laugh.” Sometimes it seems like goofy or trite advice, but he’s clearly on to something. There are so many things about this divorce scenario that could make me feel horrible about where I am in my life, and there are certainly lots of reasons I could dwell on the entire ordeal. However, I prefer to talk incredulously about the pervy security guard, laugh at my own stupidity (I left the original on the copy machine! It’s a rookie mistake!), and feel ever so grateful for the kindness of strangers. It is truly all about how you choose to look at it – “always laugh” indeed.