Serendipity on Broadway

People mean well when they say, “When God closes a door, he opens a window,” but I still find the phrase mildly annoying. I mean, who wants to hear about the next open window when you’re looking at a closed door? Yet, it didn’t take me long to consider the window when I was staring at the inside of the securely latched bathroom door, holding the loose antique knob in my hand.

That morning, Carlos and I walked the perimeter of the Broadway property, preparing for another junk haul. We rounded the corner adjacent to the neighbor’s fence, and there it was—a petite school chair from the 1920’s or so, with a solid metal frame and a wooden seat. It hadn’t been there the day before, and it’s sudden arrival was odd, even a little creepy. It was placed on the sidewalk facing the fence, as if the fence were an old chalk board and it was time for a lesson. The creep factor was palpable. Carlos and I looked at the chair, at each other, and back at the chair.

Carlos broke the silence. “How did this get here?”

“Good question.” I didn’t want to think about why it was there, but I went for the logical explanation. “My guess is that someone had a little happy hour time here last night. It’s not visible from the street, so I guess someone hung out here.”

“Hmmm. You think so?” Carlos didn’t look convinced.

“I don’t know, but it’s going on the junk pile.” With that, I picked up the chair and stacked it with two trashed satellite dishes on the side porch, ready to be picked up the next day.

We went off to tackle our rehab tasks for the day. At one point, we took stock of needed supplies, and Carlos explained that the bathroom door needed a new knob because the stem was too short, causing the handle to fall off. I made a physical note in my notebook, but I failed to make a mental note. This will become important later.

Later… Carlos headed home and I was about to lock up, when I realized that instead of stopping at the rest area on I-70 (my new favorite place), I could use the new, sparkling, functional bathroom on site. I crossed the threshold and closed the door behind me. As I closed it, the knob separated from the spindle and I was trapped.

Dramatic, you say? No. A vacant property with no one around, at least no one who means well, and no way to exit. Then I looked past the claw foot tub to the double hung window. Could I fit? Probably. Am I too old for this business? Definitely. Will I break something? Maybe. But it’s a first floor bathroom, so what the heck?

As I stood on the edge of the ancient tub and unlocked the window, I surveyed the situation below and laughed out loud. A few feet below me, that creepy chair rested on the planks of the side porch, pushed against the wall like a step stool waiting to aid my escape. I slipped through the window and lived to tell this tale.

You might call it serendipity, but I prefer to think of it as God’s sense of humor. God didn’t close that door on Broadway. I did, and I knew better. God provided me with an open window, but He knows me and did me one better, with a ladder, a soft landing, a laugh, and a story. I’ll take that over serendipity any day.

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