This is a story about how the Universe took care of me in a completely unexpected and entirely improbable way.
As I tell it, I wonder if I am making a big deal of something trivial. Yet, given the fact that this story makes me smile every time I think of it, I feel inclined to share it with more people. Maybe it will make you smile too.
I have been in need of some gear for volunteering with the animals at the Marine Mammal Center. The requirement is some form of hearty waterproof pants or overalls that can withstand lots of scrubbing, disinfecting and, potentially, sharp things (like baby seal teeth). I would also need a pair of boots, equally tough.
The need for gear had been an obstacle for me previously--one of the main reasons I held off on joining an animal crew. It hasn't felt like the right time to spend money on things that aren't entirely necessary, especially on something that is a volunteer activity for me. But when the opportunity arose recently to join a Harbor Seal crew, something I had really longed to do, I figured I should just suck it up and buy the gear.
The boots were easy. I found a pair of $20 gardening boots at a hardware store, and I purchased them during a "happy hour" sale, which reduced them (remarkably!) to $10.
Purchasing the pants then became my mission, but it was easier said than done. The hardware store that sold me the boots didn't have any, nor did another neighborhood hardware store. A popular San Francisco sporting goods store, which sells nearly every sports item under the sun, didn't have anything either.
Each time I failed I was directed to a store called West Marine, which I knew would have what I needed, but at a hefty price (+$100). After three failed attempts, though, I woke up last Saturday morning intending to go to West Marine in the afternoon. It was time to get the job done, and I'd saved enough on the boots to stress a little less on what the pants would cost.
This is an awful lot of "setting the scene," so I'm going to speed efficiently to my conclusion now:
While running around the city with my running club (a part of the city I don't know very well, I might mention), I happened to notice a sign for a garage sale. In small print, the sign said, "fly fishing and other items." Interesting, I thought, but only for a brief moment. I had almost forgotten about it by the time I finished running (12 miles) and eating breakfast with a few teammates (hot chocolate, eggs and toast), but there was the sign again on my drive home. Without really knowing where I was, I attempted to find the sale, and I eventually succeeded and parked.
Twenty minutes later I got back in my car with a barely-used, perfect-fit pair of "waders," the waterproof overalls that fly fishermen use. They had cost me $20, which went to support a women's fly fishing club in San Francisco.
The best part of the sale was the interest that the sellers took in my story. All the women in the club were seniors, and they crowded around me like a bunch of sweet grandmothers, as I tried on the pants over my running clothes, wanting to help. One women took charge of adjusting the straps, and the others inquired about my work with seals. They all wanted to see the photos from volunteering last week and hear more about what I do there. It was actually hard to leave, and one of the women pitched me on trying fly fishing "now that I have the right gear for it."
I grinned the whole way home. What a great group of ladies. And, seriously, what are the odds of stumbling upon a garage sale with fly fishing apparel at the precise moment (the precise once-in-a-lifetime moment) that I'm on the hunt for such apparel? And how did I manage to spend only $30 when I expected to spend six times that? You can't wish this stuff up! The Universe has a sense of humor sometimes, and I was a lucky direct recipient of its humor last Saturday.
I am grateful, and I am amused. And, most importantly, I am prepared to do the work I've committed to doing at the Marine Mammal Center. I can't wait for my next Thursday shift!