Tell us about a time when you managed to extract yourself from a sticky situation at the very last minute.
The Universe always provides for me.
It's my mantra.
I could probably list at least fifty instances of the God(desses) reaching down and saving this girl. But this is the one I recount most often.
It was just after the New Year. Our daughter Josie was still in grade school. I had spent a lot - even for me - at Christmas. Just thinking about the pending credit card bills gave me agita. It was early afternoon on a Friday, my husband Juan sat reading in his chair and I said, "I wish I had a thousand bucks to start the New Year right." He answered with his usual, "Don't worry we'll be fine."
I remembered smiling and agreeing with him. Then I headed upstairs to visit an elderly neighbor who had asked me to stop by the day before. *Enrique was in his late eighties, never married with no children, and we had sort of adopted one another. He has come to the United States during the Second World War, and had gotten his citizenship by serving in the US Army. I loved to listen to his stories about his early days in Mexico, and arriving here in the United States with 5 $20 gold pieces in his pocket.
Enrique greeted me always with, "Come in. Come in. Sit down. Sit down." I took my usual seat, and he lowered himself with a soft grunt into his own chair. His eyes were sparkling. Looked like he had a secret or something.
"What's up?" I asked.
"I have a surprise for you; for Christmas and your birthday. Remember all those forms you filled out for me last year?"
I have always been The Paperwork Kid for friends and family. "Sure I remember. Tax and insurance forms, right?"
"Yes, and the money came through, and I saved out some for a birthday and Christmas present just for you."
Enrique withdrew a simple white envelope from his cardigan pocket. The envelope went back and forth between us as we did the no it's not necessary no I insist thing for a couple of minutes. Finally he won and I put the envelope in my pocket. We chatted for a while about this and that, and then I thanked him and left.
I peeked inside the envelope as soon as the elevator doors closed. Hundred dollar bills? Hundred dollar bills. Ten of them! I spun around out of sheer excitement. The elevator door opened and I found Juan still in his chair reading in our apartment. His eyes nearly rolled out of his head when he looked up find me holding a fan of crisp hundreds.
Talk about your Happy New Years.
*not his real name