I was wrapping up a story and thinking of the myriad loose ends.
The beans to be heated up for dinner (again). The facts to double-check. The stripped bed to be made. The e-mails to answer. The umpteenth trip to the grocery store. The floors to mop.
And a phrase I hadn’t heard in two weeks popped into my head: “And that’s just the way I like it!”
That’s what the head of Habitat for Humanity told some 400 volunteers in Atlanta earlier this month before a weeklong building project in Haiti.
Jonathan Reckford warned the volunteers that in addition to the emotions Haiti would stir up and the hard physical labor of construction, there would be inconveniences and lots of ways things wouldn’t go according to plan. Cold showers. Not enough drills. Long dinner lines. Army cots. When you feel a complaint arise, he said, tack this on: “And that’s just the way I like it!”
So in Haiti, when problems arose, you heard this a lot, often followed by a chuckle.
I thought it was a clever way to head off the small things, the things that when you’re tired or stressed, become big things. The things that can push you over the edge.
Plus, it was a good reminder that in spite of whatever foul-up we experienced, it wasn’t the kind of razor’s-edge crisis so many Haitians have been living before and after this horrible earthquake.
So, the catchphrase provided that niggling thing called perspective.
It’s the quality you hate when what you really want to do is vent about The Complaint Du Jour.
Sometimes that’s healthy — purging our systems of the bog, be it traffic, a sleepless child, the never-ending list of chores.
I never fell back on Reckford’s words during that busy, humbling week in Haiti. Other than a trigger-happy laptop mouse, there wasn’t much reason.
But I don’t think it’s odd that the phrase seems germaine now — two weeks and over 2,000 miles away.
As we enter the holiday crush with its expectations and hectic pace, I’m going to try to lean on things being the way I like them.
Yes, it’s red beans for the fourth meal this week. But few meals are better than red beans and rice. Yes, there’s some homework to do on a story. But I’ve got a job. And I happen to love it. Double bonus. Yes, the floors are littered with dog-hair tumbleweeds. But they’re beautiful wood and Jack is a forgiving and loyal (if undisciplined) friend.
Plus, God willing, beloved out-of-town family will be here soon to share a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. With out-of-this-world greens and stuffing, I might add.
Truly, just the way I like it.