Patsy grabbed the wrist of her coworker just in time. “If you stick that pencil in there again, it will be your finger next time.” Patsy hadn’t had her first cup of coffee yet, and already the grind of the pencil sharpener bore a hole in her head.
Joani wrenched her hand from Patsy’s grip. “Grouchy this morning, aren’t we. I can’t write with a dull lead. You know that. It has to be sharp and pointy or I just can’t write.”
If just one library patron complained about the noise, Patsy could toss the evil contraption in the trash. No one even looked up. “So can’t you just use a fine point pen? A fine point pen stays sharp, and is so very quiet.” Patsy dug into her bottomless pit of a purse for aspirin.
“Then you’d be complaining about my mistakes.” Joani returned to her desk and began scratching her pointy pencil on her artwork for the children’s program.
The phone rang, splintering Patsy’s headache into every recess of her brain like broken glass. “Hello?”
She’d like to have heard the caller but at that very moment the vacuum cleaner roared like a jet engine taking off. She put her hand over the receiver. “Please, Edna, couldn’t you do that before we open the doors? I can’t hear a word.”
The cleaning lady just shrugged her shoulders and kept roaring on. The cord snaked along the floor, long and tangled. Entering patrons had to step carefully for fear they would trip.
“Okay, Lord, you said you’d never give me more than I can handle. Could you please just fast forward this day for me? Please give me something to hang onto.” Patsy whispered under her breath.
A Bible verse found its way into her aching head “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” All things? Even sharp noises and irritating people?
The morning wore on. She made her bank run every morning about ten o’clock. Patsy decided to walk to the bank and deposit the money collected for fines over the last week. A breath of fresh air might ease her headache. She retrieved a money bag from her office and headed to the front desk for the cash.
A man wearing a hoodie and black sunglasses entered the front door. Patsy had noticed him sitting on a bench outside several mornings that week. He stepped over the vacuum cleaner cord and walked right up to the front desk.
Before Patsy could say, “May I help you, Sir?” he planted one hand on the counter and with the other pointed a gun right at her head.
“Put that money bag on the counter and back away.” His gruff voice meant business. Patsy froze.
“Do it now!” His tone aroused the attention of her coworkers and several of the patrons. Joani stood and walked to Patsy’s side. The man cocked the gun and snarled. He reached for the money bag. “Get back, both of you.”
Joani brandished a sharpened pencil from behind her back. She stabbed the man’s hand that reached for the bag. He screamed in pain and dropped the gun. Edna pushed her vacuum quickly behind him, tangling his foot in the cord. He fell to the floor.
One of the patrons called 9-1-1. Within moments sirens blared. Red and blue lights flashed into Patsy’s shocked stupor. She nearly fainted as she watched the police carry the robber away. Joani helped her to her seat.
The next day she presented Joani with a brand new box of pencils. She watched as Joani ground them to a point. Edna vacuumed away. These two “all things” had worked together for good.
She’d have to lecture them that if something like that ever happens again, let the robber have the money. $54.25 is nothing to risk lives over. Even so, given the Bible verse she’d thought of that morning, she had to believe they did the right thing.
Just now, though, the grind and the roar were music to her ears.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)
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