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June 6, 2013

The Man from Iowa Said I Was Frustrated…(Thursday Morning Coffee)

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

morning coffee graphicYesterday, I was told (once again, mind you) that I do not sound like a Lutheran pastor. Or as I was described by the gentleman from Iowa visiting New Jersey to see a sick relative:

“You sound like a frustrated New Yorker with an ego complex.”

His reason for this rather broad assessment? I mentioned to a security guard at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck that there were a number of SUVs parked in their visitors parking lot that were taking up two parking spaces, and since parking is always at a premium in that fairly small lot and there were a large number of cars idling in the lot waiting for spaces as I drove through ten minutes before without finding a space, thus causing me do what I normally do when visiting Holy Name Hospital – park my car on the street –  I thought I could give the security guard a suggestion.

“You guys should boot those trucks and tow them.”

Does that sound frustrating? I don’t think so. A slightly elevated aggravation level? Maybe. Frustrated? Nah.

And does that suggestion show an ego complex? Please!!

But the Iowan was serious with my “attitude problem” that apparently he surmised was part of a greater problem with everyone who calls the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut region home: We are always in a rush.

He said that he couldn’t understand why people in New Jersey seem to always be in a hurry. His examples: First, at a restaurant the night before, he said the food came out too fast. Apparently his family didn’t have enough time to finish their appetizers. Second, standing on line at the Starbucks in the hospital lobby, he said the person behind him yesterday morning kept sighing as the barista was doing whatever a barista is supposed to do with one of those Starbucks coffee drinks. “Rush, rush, rush. All you people are in a hurry,” he said.

Obviously, he’s never listened to a Tri-state area traffic report. Rushing is something we New Jerseyans don’t do very well since there seems to always be a lot of traffic everywhere. And if our dinner at a restaurant took longer to arrive at our table than it takes to eat to the bottom of the bread bowl, yeah, we’re going to get a little hot under the collar.

And apparently I spoke too fast. “When you told the security guard about your problem in the parking lot, you said it too fast. Slow down, a bit.”

Honestly, I do not believe I speak very fast. Granted, the Gospel reading on Sunday morning seems to fly by as a read it. But speaking too fast? I didn’t want to get upset, though my blood pressure and the New Yorker gremlin that lives inside my head were urging me get all Bronx on the guy. But as a clergy person, a Lutheran pastor, I held my tongue.

When the security guard walked away, I decided to play good pastor and asked him why he was standing in the lobby of the hospital. He told me that a relative of his was very ill. And when he finished, I reached out my hand and asked him if it would be OK to say a prayer with him.

“Right here?”

“Yes. Right here. And I don’t care if we are standing in anyone’s way; they can walk around.”

A quick smile came upon on the Iowan’s face, and I prayed for his sick relative and for him. As the “Amen” crossed my lips, he patted me on my left shoulder and thanked me.

And yes, I still believe Holy Name should boot SUVs that take up two parking spaces in their lot. Or, they should at least charge them ten bucks for taking up two spaces instead of the regular $5 parking fee.


The first shipment of “A Simple Way to Pray” arrived yesterday. Read this weekend’s announcements to find out how you can get a copy.


Those who ordered a wooden American flag for your front lawns from our Crafters, the projects are completed and are in the back of the church (otherwise known as the narthex, for those who are unaware of what the back of the church is called). They cost $15. If you’ve paid, great. If not, put the cash in an envelope marked “Craft Flags” and place it in the offering plate. Oh, and you can take your orders this weekend.


During the summertime, we open up our hymn selection process to our worshippers. In your bulletin this week, you’ll once again find a copy of the Hymn Selection card. All you do is fill it out and either place it in the offering plate during worship or hand it to Warren Born, our Minister of Music, or myself after church.

This weekend, we sing our first worshipper selection: Onward Christian Soldiers.


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