Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tripping Up

                Many times throughout our lives there are people who cause situations in our life that trip us up in our journey to holiness.  For the past eight and a half months, I have had such a person in my life.  Unfortunately, she has also been in my son’s life.  The ending result is hopefully he learned an important lesson.  For me, I was reaffirmed that God hears my prayer.
                Last June, I was excited about my son going through the different mile stones of being a senior in high school.  Well, I should clarify.  I was excited to do the pictures and the football season.  The rest is a bit sad.  Since I was so excited and wanted to make sure I had the pictures done before the summer became too hectic, I started the process in June.  The last week of the month, we went done to a photographer’s studio.  I had admired her work since the summer we moved here about thirteen years ago.  Besides school pictures and baby pictures, we have only done two professional sessions as a family and those were through our parish.  I was determined to get excellent pictures.
                She scheduled us for later in the week.  The session went beautifully.  We took a bunch of indoor shots.  We traveled up to a small little town in the area and she did a bunch of shots by the creek and by an old truck.  Of course, we had some football shots and formal shots, but the best were the casual shots in the woods.  Within a week, we had the booklet of pictures that we were able to show family members at a big family reunion.  After we came back to town, we sat down to order the pictures.  I was very impressed.  We got this all done in two to three weeks.  I paid the full amount for the pictures because she said they would be done in four to six weeks.  The end of August was the latest.  I commented that it was perfect and I could get pictures out to family for Christmas.
                No call came in August.  I had done a lot of traveling and figured I missed the call, so at the beginning of September, I went to the store.  I got the distinct feeling I was interrupting her.  I figured she was preoccupied and didn’t think much of it.  She said she had been busy doing a bunch of summer weddings and would get to the pictures.  I reminded her of the yearbook photo that was due in October.  She said she would have the order done by then.  I wasn’t in a huge hurry, so I thanked her and went on my way.  Really, I didn’t mind.
                A couple of weeks later as the deadline to the yearbook started closing in, I began to get a bit concerned.  I started calling and calling.  I left messages.  I became concerned and e-mailed the teacher of the yearbook staff.  In a very polite way, she said that there were certain photographers in town who where hard to work with.  If we needed too, the teacher would set us up with another option for the yearbook.  Great!  Would I ever get my photos?  Finally she called two days before the due date saying the one picture was done.  (She never did get one of Michel’s friend’s yearbook picture done.  She had her pictures taken in August.)  When I picked up the picture, I asked when the rest would be getting finished.  She said she would get to it.  I reminded her that I did want to give them to family for Christmas.  In fact, I had a really cool framing project for one of the parents that I wanted to do.
                I will freely admit.  I was irritated.  I hate conflict.  I avoid it like the plague.  Needless to say, I put off calling her until the beginning of November.  This was the latest I would be able to wait to get the pictures out with the one framing project in particular.  Her true colors showed during this conversation.  First she stated that she didn’t do any processing in November.  “But the pictures were in June.”  I couldn’t believe her.  Then I was informed she was too busy to work on my pictures until all the Christmas pictures and cards were finished for her other customers.  My thought was if they wanted their pictures in time they should have been in her shop in June!  She ever so patiently explained that seniors didn’t need their pictures until the spring.  Maybe they didn’t need the wallets, but I needed the rest of the pictures.  The icing on the cake was that she would sacrifice and do develop the pictures so I wouldn’t have to call anymore.
                You guessed it.  I didn’t get the pictures before Christmas.  Being tired of the entire situation, I decided I would let it rest.  If my son received his announcements before the pictures, I would then start looking into options of dealing with this horrible businesswoman.  Well, I complained to my mother-in-law and my son decided he would take on the project.  Being he is eighteen, I thought it could be a good learning experience.  Though I paid for him, they were his, so… 
Right after Christmas, he started going to her store weekly asking about the pictures.  By the end of January, he was pretty angry.  I told him to let it rest.  So, he messaged her on facebook.  He then heard the friend who did her pictures in the fall received her photos.  Hum, we were still waiting.  Last Friday, he went to see her with his younger brother.  I didn’t know he was going to.  A couple of days earlier we heard she had his portrait in her window.  Well, he confronted her.  Words flew.  She threatened to call the cops.  The younger son got him out of the shopping area.
They came straight home and he told us everything.  Minus one word he used, I had no objections to what he said.  We told him he was wrong in the word choice and he wasn’t allowed to go to her store, lesson one.  I was very surprised.  Normally he is a very respectful gentleman.  I now know I won’t have to worry about him sticking up to injustice.  This happened on Friday.  Monday she called saying the pictures were finished.  I let the machine take the call. 
Monday night I kept debating.  I didn’t want to go into her shop alone, but my husband is out of town.  I also didn’t want him to come because the cops would probably be called.  He has been beyond angry about this since October.  I also realized the pictures could be a source of irritation when we have to look at them on a daily basis on the wall.  So I had a talk with said son.  He said he would be fine with the pictures if we got a discount.  I had to explain that hell would literally freeze over before that would every happen.  He was again angry that she had won, lesson two.  The good guy doesn’t always win.
My affirmation came on Tuesday.  During my nightly prayers Monday night, I prayed God would show we the answer of when to pick up the pictures.  I couldn’t sleep most of the night fretting over the stupid situation, imagining the not so nice things I wanted to say to her about her business practices.  Yet at the same time, I wanted the blasted pictures.  Tuesday afternoon came and I hadn’t heard from God.  Gurr.  Since it was my insistence that I get the pictures through this photographer, I figured I had to battle the dragon.  Armed with the pamphlet that said pictures would be done in 4 to 6 weeks with the all encompassing ‘barring studio schedule’ and my check duplicate, I left the house. 
Driving up the last street, my stomach was rolling.  I get physically sick when conflict hits me.  I got angry with myself for being such a wimp.  I said one last prayer before arrival.  “Okay, I need help in this mess.  God, Jesus, saints, and angels, I need you surrounding me when I go into that store.”  I think instead they went ahead of me and cleared the way.  The photographer was gone, so I only had to get the pictures from her secretary.  They are gorgeous, but we will go somewhere else next time.
Through this time of our life, my son learned to stand up for himself and adjust his language.  He did falter a bit in his walk, but he dusted himself off and will try again to win the next battle.  I turned to God in a moment of crisis and He stuck with me.  I didn’t do anything rash and he didn’t put me in a place that would tempt me.  Even people causing chaos can help us grow in our walk.
Blessing to you all.

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