“Gishmei bracha!” I kept reminding myself, as I surveyed the scene through the wall of windows in my dining room: Droplets of water were bouncing off the patio table and chairs, and running in rivulets onto the tile floor, forming muddy puddles here and there. But, admittedly, I was not entirely convinced. To be sure, I was absolutely certain that the life-sustaining precipitation falling from the heavens was precisely what we needed, and indeed had been praying for several times a day for the past few months.
But, rain, as well as lower than usual temperature readings, on my designated shopping day, seemed slightly less than the stuff of which benevolent blessings are made. I was just getting over a protracted cold, and had already spent enough time outside in a persistent drizzle at the beginning of the week, when I had traveled back and forth via public transportation to visit my beloved aunt in the hospital. And although I am not especially self-centered by nature, I honestly do prefer remaining warm and dry to venturing out in even a relatively mild winter storm.
The forecasters had predicted the weather quite accurately; in fact, the frum radio stations had even advised listeners to get their Shabbos shopping and preparations done early. And I had complied, or at least attempted to. I visited both large supermarkets, as well as the nearby paper goods store, on Tuesday rather than the usual Wednesday. And not just once either. However, despite multiple trips to the market, I was sadly not able to pick up everything on my list. Assuming I had written a list. Which I had not. Either way, I would have been unable to buy some of the items, because they simply were not in stock, or were already picked through by other customers.
Because the P-word was just over the horizon in any case, I decided to utilize this opportunity to downsize my usual purchases. Time to start using up some of the surplus in the freezers instead.
My more immediate problem was the bank. By the time I had filled out the deposit envelope, stamped all the checks and made it to the bank the previous day, said financial institution was already closed for the day. So I slid the prepared envelope through the slot and went about my other errands.
However, every fourth Wednesday is payday for the cleaning man on our block, and I am the designated schlepper who has to pay him. Unfortunately, as of the night before, I was still short over 800 shekel. Worst-case scenario, I would scrounge around for available cash in my own home and pay in advance for the rest of the year. But, I was reluctant to go that route unless I had exhausted all other possibilities. For any number of valid reasons. (One of which is that I have an aversion to being broke!)
Instead I contacted some of the delinquent residents of our block who had not even begun to pay the dues for this year. Not surprisingly, neither my e-mails nor my phone messages were even acknowledged, much less responded to.
So as I surveyed the growing puddles on my large mirpeset, I felt somewhat agitated that I would have to make another trip to the bank to withdraw the cash I needed by the time the cleaning man had completed his work.
Suddenly I was shaken out of my morose reverie by the shrill ringing of the phone.
“We kept missing each other!” said the French-accented voice of my neighbor on the other end of the line. “I left the money with my wife. You can pick it up at any time…”