A column you can help me write

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 8, 2008

This column was born early this week as I pumped gas at a filling station somewhere in Georgia. I hope you’ll help me finish writing it.

I left Hertford County early Sunday morning en route to my mother-in-law’s house just outside Enterprise, Mississippi. A little later that same day, my wife left the house we still own (it’s for sale if you know anyone who might be interested) outside Athens, Texas, also bound for her mom’s house. That leg of my trip would be a little more than 800 miles. That leg of her trip would be a little more than 400. (The next day, we would leave Mississippi en route back to North Carolina, but we would take two days to travel those highways this time.)

As I stuck my credit card into the pump for about the third time at that Georgia gas station n the credit card folks think I still live in Texas and are distressed that I’ve been spending money in North Carolina n I found myself more than a little unhappy with the world situation, particularly as it relates directly to me.

At that point in time, I was about to call the credit card company for the third time. The first time, the Chinese guy on the other end of the call told me the card had been “put on hold” because “security” thought somebody might have stolen it because, with a Texas address, it had been in use in North Carolina for eight weeks. I explained the situation and gave him my new address. He told me everything was OK. But the next morning, the card wouldn’t work in a gas pump in South Carolina. I called the company again and, talking to somebody in this country this time, provided the last four digits of my Social Security number, my mother’s maiden name and my old and new addresses. The fellow I was talking to that time said there was no record of my call the night before. But he promised (that’s the word I made him use) me that this time all was well.

It wasn’t. The card still wouldn’t work in Georgia. My call to the credit card company this time was not so polite. In fact, I explained to the (Chinese again) operator this time that his is not the only credit card company in the world and there are lots of them out there that would enjoy my business. Patiently, he told me my card’s status was good, but that “the merchant” where I was trying to use it probably had not “updated” since that morning.

On top the inconvenience of all that, 800 miles is a long way to drive and I had not enjoyed the miles already behind me and was not looking forward to those yet to come.

And gasoline was still more than $3.80 a gallon. (I think the oil companies are training us. Once upon a time, we thought $2 a gallon was outrageous. Now we think they’re doing us a favor when it falls below $3.95.)

In general, as I stood beside my car in with the gas nozzle in my hand, I had a bad attitude.

But then it dawned on me that things weren’t really so bad.

By that evening, once I finished those 800 miles, my wife, Sherry, and I would be a couple again. From that perspective, all the things that were irritating me paled.

I’ve been single and living in a motel for two months n that’s eight weeks, or 48 days, or 1,152 hours, or 69,120 minutes n and I was tired of it.

A couple of weeks earlier, though, I had signed a lease on a house and about a week earlier, I had rented some furniture and moved in.

And now I was on my way to bring Sherry to North Carolina.

And within another month or six weeks, the moving truck would arrive with our own stuff.

And sometime within the next year, we’ll find and buy a house and all will be well with our world.

Suddenly, my glass was half full instead of half empty.

So, as I got back onto the road (I have a couple of other credit cards and two debit cards and I even had some real money; the credit card company’s incompetence didn’t really hurt me; it just made me mad) I started writing this column in my head. I started thinking of things I n and you n can be happy about.

Below is my list. I hope some of you will add to it during the next few days. If anyone does, I’ll share next week.

• Starting today, each and every new day is an opportunity to begin by putting yesterday’s mistakes in the past where they belong.

• Football begins in less than a month and goes on for several months after that — even if it seems like longer for some.

• All the things you have that money can’t buy.

• George W. Bush is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term as your President. And so is Bill Clinton.

• Ice cream — any flavor.

• Friends who not only believe in you, but help you believe in yourself.

• The many good places to eat in this area.

• Living in a country that provides more choices than any place else on earth. You can live your life, believe what you want, say what you must and worship — or not.

• Children (and of course, grandchildren).

• Our remarkable founding fathers who had the good sense to determine that presidents, senators and congressmen would not have life-long terms in office. They forgot about that when it came to the Supreme Court, but three out of four ain’t bad.

• Our sun rises and sets each and every day without any help from any of us, no matter how important we might think we are.

• Men and women who adopt other people’s children and love them as much as any biological mother or father ever could — perhaps even more.

• Any day that Angelina, Brad, George, Britney and Paris are not mentioned in the news.

• Music that raises your spirits.

• Any child, sound asleep, snuggled in a nest of soft blankets.

• Getting old without feeling older.

• The generosity of people who never fail to provide for those in need, especially in our community.

• Bumper stickers that make you laugh just when you need it most.

• Having love in your life …

The remainder of my trip wasn’t nearly as long as the first part had been.

I’ll hope to hear from you.

David Sullens is publisher of the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald and Gates County Index.