I learned a valuable lesson today...
I rented a car to drive from Chicago to Las Vegas, about a 22 hour drive. In the end, I discovered that the car's registration had expired and all four tires were completely bald. What should have been a 22 hour drive, at worst 26, ended up taking more than thirty. In returning the car, I was sleep deprived, upset, and in a foul mood...
I walked up to the rental counter, pushed my way through the long queue to get to a woman holding a clipboard, wearing a rental car company name tag that read "Becky".
"Is there a manager on duty this morning?" I asked a little louder than I should have.
"There are four on this morning, and if you tell me what happened I can get you to the correct one.
"Well," I retorted, a full sneer in my voice, " you all rented me a deathtrap! Four bald tires! No registration! Long drive!"
The frustration poured out of my soul and into my words. She very politely pointed me to the manager, and I proceeded to vent to her as well, knowing full well that none of this was either of their faults. She offered to call the Chicago office and try to get it sorted, leaving me standing awkwardly with Becky.
I often, as a Master Mason, wear jewelry that proudly displays the Masonic Square and Compass, and today it was a large ring on my right hand. Becky looked over and said, "Oh, your ring! My brother is a Mason... we cremated him this morning... so, you are at least having a better day than me." Tears filled her eyes as she told me about her amazing brother, who I had just learned was MY brother as well, and his wife and 9 kids. She told me about how his brother Masons had been there for the family in the days, weeks, and months leading up to his passing, and how much his brothers and the fraternity of the lodge had meant to him.
As you can imagine, my heart melted, and I too was standing in tears, wishing to take back the previous 10 minutes. I expressed my sorrow to Becky for the way I had acted, as well as to her manager. I remembered the Worshipful Master, demanding of me something of a metallic substance, of which I had none, not even a button. I was told that that moment was not to trifle with my emotions, nor to embarrass me, but to teach me a valuable Masonic lesson, that of charity.
I learned just what Charity really means today, as I walked away from a car rental counter, having expressed my love for this woman, and our brother. I also learned that no matter how bad my day might seem, no matter how hard it is to keep my head above water, there is always the possibility that the person next to me is having an even harder day, and I as a Latter-day saint and Mason have covenanted and taken upon myself a solemn obligation to have and show charity toward my fellow travelers. What started out as a negative experience, ended with my making a new friend, and being touched by the love of a brother I had never met.
Please, if you have the means to do so, donate to help this fine brother's family. Share this post far and wide so we can make sure that his wife and children are cared for in their future.