by Barbara Giordan (Barb and her husband and son attend Grace Covenant Church in Elgin, Illinois)
I hate change. My distaste for change is best illustrated by a trip to San Francisco. I accompanied my husband Dan, on a business trip. He casually pointed out a restaurant by the wharf and said, “You have to try their crab”.
I returned to the restaurant the next and as I glanced at the menu. I was overwhelmed. They must have served crab about 300 different ways. I wanted to try the crab he recommended but which one was it? I settled on soft-shelled crab because it had a vaguely familiar ring. The waiter brought a steaming hot plate and settled it in front of me. “Will there be anything else?” he asked. I wanted to say, “How do you eat it?” I didn’t though because I felt shy, as uncharacteristic as that seemed.
As I stared at the crab, I realized I was seriously out of my element! I sipped my water, ignored my crab, paid my bill and left. At that moment, I made a decision: I needed a hotdog.
I grew up in Connecticut, frequented New York and considered myself a New Yorker of sorts due to our proximity to the city. I recalled with great longing, the hot dog vendors situated on each street corner selling their wares. In New York, you gave the vendor your money, and they handed you a steaming hot dog sandwiched between sheets of waxed paper and smeared with ketchup or mustard. It was simply heaven!
I crossed the street to Ghirardelli Square. I visited their infamous chocolate shop and sampled their chocolate. Later, I sat by a splashing fountain and was almost lulled to sleep by the warm sun, the melodious rhythm of the water and a guitar player who was strumming a Latin love song. I didn’t though. I had a mission and I couldn’t be deterred.
I walked by a row of charming Victorian Houses converted to shops and then I climbed a hill. The “hill” was so steep that gravity was barely able to keep me upright. Sweating profusely and at the end of my rope, I flagged a cab. The cab driver pulled over and said, “Lady, inSan Francisco you don’t flag cabs. You go home and call them.” This shocked me. In New York I had perfected the nonchalant wave and whistle. Somehow, this made me more determined than ever to find a hotdog. I craved the familiar.
I slowly trudged up the hill. I found my hotel, and rudely demanded that the concierge direct me to the nearest hotdog stand. I stomped out of the hotel and headed in the opposite direction. At this point, you might call me a dog with a bone. Anyway, I walked for miles until I was weary and despairing. The houses were becoming increasingly seedy and if commonsense prevailed, I should have turned back. I approached a woman who was standing on a street corner minding her own business. I ran up to her, and shouted, “What kind of city are you running here and where are your hotdogs?” She looked at me with disgust and said, “Lady, I don’t know. Go away!”
I trudged down the road, totally despairing. I entered a take out Chinese restaurant and asked the proprietor to sell me something. “What do you want?” he asked. “I don’t know”, I muttered. “It’s not a hotdog.” “Lady, you have to order.” I grudgingly gave my order, ate the food and left.
All this is just to illustrate how much I hate change. San Francisco was bright and sunny. The music was melodious and the people were actually pretty patient now that I reflect on my abysmal behavior. I missed all the blessings of the day. I was too busy looking for the old and familiar. Who knows how many times Christ metaphorically tried to offer me a steak and I missed the experience because I wanted a hotdog. If only I had admitted my ignorance to the waiter. I would have experienced a different San Francisco and more importantly, San Francisco would have experienced a better me. If only, I admitted my ignorance and fear to Christ and leaned on him instead of my own understanding.