Before the ink was dry on my holiday request form my Dad had already planned how I was going to spend my precious five vacation days. One of the most important errands he had lined up for me was finding him a new garden bench and as my Dad is a canny Yorkshireman I knew that this would not be a “one stop shop” event. Obviously I had other more relaxing plans, which involved a deck chair and several glasses of wine, earmarked for my leave other than spending it as a bench test technician.
As the supermarket run was the first item on the agenda, I was despatched by the old fella with strict instructions to fill the tank up with petrol on his old jalopy and to check the tyre pressure and oil en route. Feeling somewhat aggrieved, I called into the village garage and proceeded to get the tyre pressure check out-of-the-way as I finished a car pulled alongside me and a cheery senior citizen got out to enquire whether the machine was easy to use and if the beeping sound that indicated the tyres were filled, loud enough to hear. As the garage was situated on the main road into the city, I offered to assist the gentleman with the task in hand. Once completed he confided in me that he was ninety and had reached that grand old age by avoiding hard liquor and wild women; I felt duty bound to point out that he was currently in the company of one who was becoming wilder by the minute owing to my Dad’s ever increasing demands.
Once at the supermarket, as instructed I purchased the roll on gel weed killer that the old fella had requested in his war against the Snakeshead which grew in abundance within our garden; think he was a bit worried in case my mother was tempted to make some jam with the poisonous berries and put it in one of his sandwiches! As the checkout operator packed it with the rest of my shopping I asked if she would wrap it separately, not wanting to it to contaminate any food purchases, as I was too young to be orphaned and besides after the garden bench debacle and all the complaining I had done I would probably be the main suspect should either of my parents expire prematurely in suspicious circumstances.
On the return journey I called into a new Beauty Salon that I had noticed on the way home from work one night so thought I’d call in for a brochure as I felt that a little pampering would not go amiss. Once inside, the interior reminded me of the Turkish salons I had visited and I soon realised I was the only customer. An immaculate lady with a heavily middle eastern accent introduced herself to me as the owner, Hami. I booked an appointment for the following weekend for a facial. She placed her hand on my shoulder and remarked that I seemed stressed – no kidding! She guided me towards a chair and said as she wasn’t busy she’d give me a free Indian Head Massage which would help me sleep. We chatted as she efficiently massaged my aching head and when I asked how she came to be living in the UK, she confided in me that when she was a small child her family had fled Iran during the conflict in the middle of night when they were lucky to escape with their lives after their home was bombed and she and her siblings received horrendous chemical burns. The medical treatment they received was at best inadequate as is often the case in war-torn situations but her parents were determined to give their children a better life so they all escaped into Turkey where they spent a few weeks living rough. She recalled sleeping shivering on the ground during a thunderstorm when the rain and cold soaked their clothes.
Suddenly my increasing list of grievances seemed petty and trivial. I remembered my Grandma frequently saying to me “stop focusing on how stressed you are and instead remember how blessed you are” when I whined about some minor childhood injustice. Funny how it took a complete stranger to remind me how very lucky I am.
Needless to say I returned home remorseful and determined to be less impatient.