By Kurt Baumann
According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word “serendipity” means “the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought.” My old fifth-grade teacher explained it as “looking for something and accidentally find something else.” That describes my day, on Thursday, December 3rd, when I found something that I hadn’t had for a while.
My original goal was to work on a paper for my writer’s group, First Monday, First Person, and read it at our next meeting. On her way to do an errand in Sun Prairie, for some work on her car, Joan, a nice lady from my church, agreed to drive me to the Columbus Library, then take me back home at 3:30.
Before that, I had some errands to do. Since it was the third of the month, my Social Security benefits were directly deposited to my checking account. Since I use this day to pay my monthly expenses, as well other bills, and do grocery shopping, it’s a busy day for me. After phoning for a taxi, I was driven to my bank, where I did my transactions.
Since March 2020, COVID19 has made its presence known. Wearing a mask when riding in a taxi, because of possible airborne virus transfer contact with the driver, was a rule of the taxi company. American National Bank’s branches, in Beaver Dam, passed the same rule, and closed its lobbies, for the same reason. Drivers had to steer through the bank’s drive-thru while customers talked to the tellers through the drive-thru intercom. This is how I withdrew my money, and made money orders to pay my bills.
After my errand at the bank, the taxi dropped me off at the post office where I mailed my bills and Christmas cards. COVID19 rules were in effect there, too. People wore masks and did social distancing while waiting in line. From there, I walked to Recheck’s Food Pride, where masks and social distancing were required, did my grocery shopping, and phoned for a taxi which took me home.
Joan arrived at my place at noon, drove me to the Columbus Library, and we arrived at 12:30. Sadly, I had forgotten that a person had to make an appointment to use the personal computers. Making matters worse, the library would be closed from 1:00pm-3:00pm. Before getting out of Joan’s car, I used my Trace-Phone to call the Library and make an appointment, managing to secure time on a P.C for half an hour. At 3:30, Joan would be back for me.
COVID19 had thwarted me again.
For half an hour, I printed various articles I had wrote and submitted. Two of them I sent to the leader of my writer’s group. She had been nice enough to put it on her blog, “True Stories, Well Told.” I enclosed them with my Christmas cards and sent them to my various relatives. These were as close to Christmas gifts my budget could afford–and I wasn’t above bragging. Since I couldn’t finish my article in time for my writer’s group meeting, I also printed up some old “Letters to the Editor” submissions I had made to the Beaver Dam Daily Citizen, over the years, to read when we virtually got together.
When the Library closed at 1:00, I left, having two and a half hours to kill. Looking for a place to eat, I saw a tavern that was open. Though I don’t usually visit them, I decided to make an exception. Once inside, I ordered a Diet Pepsi and was disappointed when I found out they didn’t serve any food. Despite that, I prepared Christmas cards to my relatives and enclosed my articles into each of them. The bartender, a heavy-set, thirty-something lady, with dirty-blonde hair was since enough to give me some Scotch tape so I could seal the flaps of each envelope.
After that, I relaxed, drank some sodas and played a couple of songs on the digital jukebox. Before I left. I was told that there was another tavern around the block that served food. On my way there, I stopped at the Columbus Post Office and mailed my Christmas cards. The new tavern was a basic bar and grill on the outside, but on the inside had an Old California decor. It had a warm atmosphere of heat from the kitchen and spicy odors of Mexican food
I ordered a salad along with a Diet Pepsi and had a late lunch. It could have been COVID19 or mid-afternoon when people were at work, but I was the only customer there. I can’t recall how long I stayed there, but I enjoyed the meal, thanked the owners, and left to return to wait at the Library. Joan came by a little earlier that I expected, but I didn’t mind. She drove me back home, to Beaver Dam, and dropped me off at Park Avenue Sports Café, where I relaxed and had some coffee before going home.
I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t finish my article, but it occurred to me that I actually had a good time that day. COVID19 may have closed a bank lobby, instituted a mask mandate and social distancing in post offices and grocery stores, even limited the hours at the library—but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the day, despite having to change my schedule.
Thanks to serendipity, I sat in a Columbus tavern, drank soda, prepared my Christmas cards, listened to songs on a digital juke box, mailed my Christmas cards, had a Mexican meal in another tavern, drank more soda, and had a good time doing it—and COVID19 didn’t stop me from doing it.
Can anyone believe I did all that? That Thursday, December 3rd, part of me remembered how to appreciate life.
© 2021 Kurt Baumann
Since 1983, Kurt Baumann has lived in Beaver Dam involved in his community theater, church, and contributer to his local newspaper. After working a variety of jobs for most of his life, he has retired to do some writing. He has written one book: The Written Works of Kurt Baumann.