Some Glass Must Fall

Cars & Bars is a storytelling series compiling specific moments, mundane and exotic, from my work as a valet and bartender.

Into each life some rain must fall.
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Once upon last night, a guest named Wendy McCown [not her real name] shared a few comments about her experience at a mid-luxury hotel.

She wrote:

This was my first time staying at the hotel. It was wonderful. The shuttle was a God-send.

The only thing was the broken glass that I found during the 2 days spent there. I appreciated the prompt call from the house-keeping manager, the hand-written note and the small, nice platter of cheese and fruit.

But, the experience could have been a disaster with the many, many shards [of glass] I had to personally pick up. If I had been cut under foot, I would not have been able to leave for a hiking trip the following week. Point being, leaving one piece of glass maybe, but there were so many including smaller fragments in the grouted areas.

Also, and I know this is an issue at every Starbucks, but the line was ridiculously long and the wait was impossible most mornings.

For me, the only difference between the poet's words above—"Into each life some rain must fall"—and the comments of this particular guest is, well, I'll go ahead and say it: that tiny-huge matter of perspective.

OK, to be sure, no one who dutifully, if not happily, serves a hotel's management regime is advocating this course of action: a covert, Level 4-type strategy to improve guest performance by leaving broken glass, including shards, on the bathroom floor.

But God works in mysterious ways.


Speaking of God, although it is certainly miles beneath his genuine perfection and true power, for our purposes let's cast God in the role of the Hotel. (I know, I know, if Jesus was any indication, God would always-ever choose a dirty barn or perhaps a musty cave. Anything but a mid-luxury hotel.)

As for you and me, with every good reason I imagine that we must graciously see ourselves (and all of humanity) as this particular Guest. Apparently, Ms. McCown was unusually shaken by the whole broken-glass ordeal, calling it an almost "disaster" in light of an upcoming hiking trip. Who knows what she might think when that hiking trip materializes, if she runs into a venomous snake or suffers a twisted ankle.

And what to make of this broken glass? I suppose it must—surely—embody and represent the many shards of life. No one who spends any fleeting time on this planet's imperfect landscape is immune from these shards: hardship, pain, suffering.

Thus the poet waxes philosophical even in his simple metaphors: "Into each life some rain must fall."

But it also must be said: Sometimes—when we're sleeping on a King-size bed with a duvet; when numerous pillows surround us and cushion us from the world outside; when a ridiculously comfortable bathrobe is hanging on a faux-wooden hanger in the closet; when we are able to pick a movie, via remote control, according to our whims, according to our own preferences; when a moving rectangular box can take us up and down at the touch of a button—we tend to forget about the broken glass scattered all around us.

Some of it seen. Much of it unseen.

Some of it detectable. Most of it undetectable.


In the poet's image, we modern people have somehow lost the expectation that rain is inevitable. That rain exists. That rain is no respecter: it doesn't care if you can afford a mid-luxury hotel, or not. Or if you stay in one almost every week of the year.

Simply put, it rains.

The theology of this particular guest, like our theology if we are to be completely honest, seems always willing to interpret God's divine involvement in our lives—"The shuttle was a God-send"—when it directly benefits our own needs at the exact time we need it.

On the other hand, more often than not it is probably the case that we cannot fully understand this matter of the broken glass. Why? Why me? Why us? Why now? Why?

Maybe God is, indeed, like the Hotel. At the end of the day, he will gladly reimburse us with a small plate of cheese and fruit for all our troubles!

I highly doubt it.

More likely is this, that God has allowed a little glass to fall into your life, to fall into mine, for reasons we may or may not understand. Perhaps we will find a brave, new contentment or rest. Maybe our trust will grow and deepen. Perhaps we will actually come alive.

Maybe, just maybe, the Starbucks line is a distraction from what really matters.

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