I would love to share a story about one of the most unique gifts that I received for my birthday, which was July 29th. It was from the fabulous city of Lake Geneva, here in Wisconsin where I live. Margie, in her very loving manner, planned a surprise for me. We drove out to Lake Geneva, which is about 45 minutes away. She had an address typed into my GPS so I did not know where I was going. When we arrived at the destination, there seemed to be less parking spaces than there were cars looking for them. Whatever this surprise was, it was due to happen at a certain time which was rapidly approaching. We circled the area for several minutes getting a little more nervous with every second that ticked off the clock.

Then it happened. I circled the block and there was a spot right in front of where we were going. Someone had just vacated and I pulled in. We celebrated our good fortune and hastened to our send off spot. I discovered this was a port and we were to get on a boat. This took you around the lake that gave the city of Lake Geneva its name. It was a guided tour that explained each of the houses on the side of the lake. They belonged to business tycoons such as Wrigley and Nabisco. During this informative trip out on lake, they also served us a delicious ice cream sundae. Margie relaxed in my arms as we listened to the information tell us all about the lake and the people who lived there. By all accounts it was a wonderful experience.

the boat we were on

As the tour ended and we began to pile off the boat, I felt sorry for all of the people who parked far away. After such a relaxing tour, some had to walk quite a way back to their vehicles. I felt grateful for our good luck in finding an open spot so close to the boat. Then I saw it – a little piece of paper under the windshield wiper. About 6 stalls down from where we parked there was a “metered parking” sign. Not familiar with the area, and in such a hurry I did not stop to look around. Margie was rather upset. Having planned this fun excursion, she did not want it dampened by a citation. I was a lot less bothered. It is true that I did park illegally. It was also true that it wasn’t very clear that it was a metered spot. Still, I did commit the infraction. It even had my birthday on the ticket. It was only $20 and gave me a good little chuckle. Seeing how upset Margie was and how worried she was that it might lessen my ability to enjoy my birthday, melted my heart. It was a great sign of how she really cares.

To me, this parking ticket will remind me of the fun boat tour we went on. It will remind of all the neat things we learned as she relaxed in my arms. It will remind me how we laughed as we enjoyed our ice cream. It will remind me of how much she cares and how she was so worried that it might impact my ability to enjoy my birthday. It will even remind me of the other cool surprise of the day. We went to a drive through safari! There were bison, camels, emus and lots of other animals that would come right up to the car. The bison even stuck his head in and grabbed the bucket of food right out of Margie’s hand. We had a big laugh about that. This one ticket will forever remind me of all of this.

I certainly could have let the ticket ruin the fun times we were having. What good would that have done? I knew Margie felt bad as it was and if I would have gotten upset it would have only served to make her feel worse. At the end of all of that, I still would have owed $20 to the city of Lake Geneva. I could have focused on how poorly the signs were placed for someone unfamiliar with the city. I could have called and yelled at the city clerk. Sure, maybe they would have thrown out the ticket, but at what cost to me? Loss of peace of mind and quite possibly one of the best days I have had in a long time. I would have also made the love of my life feel terrible when she worked so hard to plan everything. That would have been inconsiderate. Instead, I am using this ticket as a physical reminder of all the fun we had that day and the amazing lady I had that planned it all. Plus, I hope the few dollars I spent on the ticket went to do some good for the city that hosted all of that fun and the people who work in it. Can you think of a situation that you can turn around and use for your advantage?

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