When Rules Don’t Apply by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

There were five tennis courts, all occupied, and usage was limited to one hour if other players were waiting. As we signed the board for an open court, Ted approached. “See those four ladies over there on Court #1?” he asked. “The rules don’t apply to them.” He shared that a few weeks ago he gave up his court to that foursome. When he returned two hours later and they still were playing, he told them their time was up. They not-so-kindly said they had been on the court only 10 minutes. Ted reminded them that it was he who had given them his court two hours before and he did not appreciate being lied to.

I like Ted.

Fast forward a month. My son, Andy, his wife Kristen and I unluckily ended up on the court next to the four dishonest women who thought they were prepping for Wimbledon. We, on the other hand, were there to have fun and laugh. When the inevitable happened and Kristen’s ball landed on the enemy’s court, my family stood frozen as, with great flair, the women played out their point and then dramatically retrieved our ball.

Fifteen minutes later, when it happened again, we were grateful they had racquets and not guns. This time, they all yelled “Let” loudly enough for everyone on all five courts to know they had been inconvenienced. That’s all it took. I knew what I needed to do. As more people arrived looking for a court, I periodically announced—rather loudly– how much time we had left. “We have twenty minutes before our hour is up.” “We have only five minutes left.” You get the point. The ladies had no choice but to exit their court since those waiting knew they had been there longer than we had. V-I-C-T-O-R-Y!

There are two treadmills in our community center gym. This is the sign hanging above every piece of equipment:

Simple, right? After 30 minutes, I am to GET OFF and let someone else use my machine. Apparently, two individuals don’t get it. The other day, I used the elliptical while they spent an hour on their treadmills. When one finally stopped, I pointed to the sign and asked her if, since I had used the elliptical for 30 minutes, I now was allowed to get on a different machine. (Yes, a little manipulative.) She became defensive. “I was only on my machine for 30 minutes.”

I repeated my question. She looked at me like I didn’t have the I.Q. to even push the start button. What she failed to realize was that she had accidently left her “Summary” on her machine–how many calories burned, maximum heart rate, etc., including her 63!!! minute time.

Where was Ted when I needed him?

Why is it some people think the rules don’t apply to them? Police arrest people who violate the law, but what do you do on a tennis court or exercise room? And yes, I know that as a Christian, whatever I do needs to be done in love. Is it possible to hit people with my tennis racquet in love or drag exercise freaks off their treadmills in love? Would Jesus appreciate that response? Uh, probably not. Even if they lie? Uh, probably not.

What Jesus wouldn’t do is ignore the offense, especially if that selfishness caused other people to be inconvenienced. When James and John requested a special place in Heaven, Jesus put them in their rightful place: “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” The message was clear. At the cross, Jesus would drink from the bitter cup of wrath in order that ALL his followers would make it to Heaven. Trying to elevate themselves above the other disciples was not Jesus’ way.

He, like Ted, just managed to do it without manipulating.

Next time, I’m going to try that.

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