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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Rules tend to eliminate the human facotr

Friday, April 15, 2011

It was our 38th anniversary. Dave telephoned from Mexico, saying he had made us reservations at our favorite restaurant and also purchased tickets for the Gala at Angela Peralta, the historic theater in downtown Mazatlan. I had numerous times -- all in vain -- visited the site to see if it was as magnificent inside as the locals described, but I never found it open.

Dinner reservations were at 5 and the show began two hours later. We were told to be at the theater early because seats weren't reserved, no big deal since it was within walking distance of the restaurant. Dave and I enjoyed a delightful meal in the outdoor courtyard (salsa made at our table -- yum) and then, about 45 minutes before curtain, headed to the Peralta. My husband, typically flat-brained when it involves a theater event as opposed to a sporting one, seemed proud that he had orchestrated such a perfect gift for me. I was thrilled.

There was no waiting line, assuring us we would get first pick at the seats. Dave handed our tickets to the man in the booth. His was not the typical Mazatlanian response because the majority of Mexican people are kind and friendly. After staring blankly at our tickets for a few seconds, he mutely handed them back to Dave. I asked what the "problema" was. (Adding an "a" to the end of a word is my attempt to be bilingual.) Apparently this was the right night but the wrong place. The tickets Dave had purchased were for a fundraiser at the orphanage. For some reason, the theater's name was printed on them. Okay, perhaps I'm not quite as bilingual as I thought.

I started laughing which seemed to irritate the ticket guy who opted to not give us directions to the orphanage. "He's crankya," I told Dave who was still in shock. As we turned to leave, the theater doors cracked opened and an elderly, toothless gentleman glanced outside, probably to see what was so funny. Dave and I pounced, asking if I could just peek inside since we were already there and had purchased tickets we thought were for a show there and every other sort of pathetic excuse we could muster.

"No," he replied.

"No?" I asked, as if there might be a slight language misinterpretation.


Dave gave it his best shot. Charades style, he implored, "She teaches drama in los estados unidos and wants to look inside for just a minuto."

"No." No doubt related to the ticket taker, I whispered to Dave.

Leaving the theater, even Dave had to laugh. I told him that at least the tickets were tax write-offs since it was for an orphanage fund raiser. He reminded me that we were in Mexico. No I.R.S. here.

These two Peralta employees operated by the rules. No exceptions. No unique circumstances. But then, it's so much easier that way, isn't it? Black and white. Etched in stone. The problem is that rules, certainly necessary in most cases, have a tendency to eliminate the human factor and do little to enhance relationships. Read Leviticus. Hundreds of rules. Read the Old Testament. It was all about performance...until Jesus, a personal Messiah, came on the scene. He was all about seeing the individual and not the law. He operated with grace.

It's not a big deal that I didn't get into the Peralta Theater. Dave and I are still laughing about our anniversary, and I hope it is a message I never forget: choose blessings and not rules.

Oh, yeah, and learn the language.

Patty LaRoche
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