After a three week silence, having settled back into the rhythm of work, I am trying to recapture the excitement of this blog. We have been travelling--to California, and then to the Panama Canal. Travelling light, I left the laptop at home, and made a conscious decision to disconnect while on the cruise.
The trip afforded so many magic moments, or moments with the potential for magic and awe passing in cognito for a multitude of reasons, giving lots of food for thought for the next while.
Seized Moment No. 1: Yvette Drives to Calgary
We left from Calgary, delivering our VW Jetta to Daniel and Lindsay, meaning a two-car convoy. I feel nervous about this, fearing a ten-hour white-knuckle drive, knowing I have never driven this distance alone, even in optimum conditions. It's warm at 7 am as we pull out of the driveway, and, for half an hour, the road is clear. Then--ice, and lots of it, which drifting snow is polishing. The new Elantra is hugging the road, and I am able to maintain a speed that's comfortable for me and the cars behind me. By Moose Jaw, the road clears. Feeling more secure, and captivated by a mellifluous voice interpreting Danielle Steele, I enjoy the drive, and pull in to Calgary patting myself on the back. I am delighted--getting older and doing things I have not done.
Seized Moment No. 2: Original Joe's
Dan, Lindsay, Elmer and I step into the foyer at Original Joe's, still prattling and laughing. It's Friday night, so, of course, there's a wait. We expected it, settle in, and just keep chatting. After a few minutes, the manager advises us, "You'll be seated in a few minutes."
"We have all the time in the world," I reply, clearly without thinking. Oops!! True, we are mellow, but admitting that to the manager might not advance our cause. Oh, well, too late--might as well laugh about it.
Our waitress incarnates beauty, sincerity, and affability. Luscious long brown hair frames a twentyish intelligent face, and curls about her shoulders. Kerry projects honesty energy and love of people. Nothing put-on here. With a smile and bright eyes, she offers to bring samples of raspberry and huckleberry beer to make decision-making a little easier. Her genuine smile creates an instant rapport that permeates the entire meal.
After serving the beer and waiting for our comments, she tells us that the soup is tomato-red pepper. "Really? It's my favourite soup!" I exclaim again, having only sipped a few swallows of the 9 oz glass of red wine I am indulging in. Dan and Elmer order the ribs special, I have pulled pork, and Lindsay the salmon. We continue to catch up, not having been together since August. I am having so much fun.
A few minutes later, she returns. Bad news. There's only one rib special left. So, who gets it. Dan pulls the short straw, as he can come back whenever he likes, and Elmer will enjoy the ribs tonight. It's not an issue. We are enjoying being together, and the environment. The food is great, and the atmosphere feeds our jovial mood.
"Will there be anything else?" Kerry asks.
"No, thank you," Elmer replies, "we'll just have the bill when you're ready."
Before we can resume the conversation in earnest, the manager is at our table.
"How was your meal?"
We rave about the food and our experience. "Just fine; very tasty."
"Great," he continues. "We are taking care of the bill for you this evening."
Silence. What? We must have misunderstood. Or he is joking. So we try for clarification.
"You're teasing us, right?" Apparently not. He is serious. Every Friday night, a staff member chooses a table to receive a complimentary meal. Really. I am dumbfounded then, and even now, recalling the experience as I write.
We leave a generous tip and profuse thanks. Later, after I've posted to Facebook and Twitter, we wonder if maybe Daniel set this up with the management in order to pay the tab. If he did, it's an Oscar-winning performance for both him and Lindsay. "No," he says, replying to the direct question a few weeks later, "but I wish I'd thought of it." No artifice again--just the same amazed look that it happened.
What a way to begin a holiday--with delight, with an unexpected moment that will live forever in the family annals. Each time the story is told, the awe and magic will reappear. Yes, this incident is unusual. Why us? Was our jovial, festive mood contagious? Did the waiting and the menu change play a role? Who knows? The moment reminded me to be present for the magic and the awe that accompany me each day if I just take the time to track them.