The moments before we departed on our trip seemed auspicious. We poured a full bottle of wine, with water, for Hermes, with two requests: Keep us safe on our travels, and grant us good fortune in Vegas.
We used the Greek alphabet oracle and drew what seemed to be a positive response. So off we went, all optimistic.
Our first flight went fine, but then our second one was delayed several hours due to mechanical problems. Luckily we had no more connections to catch, but we had about four hours of sitting idle in Detroit waiting. Then we had great difficulty finding dinner in Vegas, involving cabs, crowds, noise, way too much walking around getting hungrier by the minute, finding two-hour waits for overpriced food before finally getting what turned out to be a good and reasonably-priced dinner at Margaritaville.
Our gaming also sputtered. I think we lost around $20 or so in the slot machines, although there was one point I could have stopped about $17 ahead.
Then it was on to California for the family visit that was the main part of this trip. After a couple of decent days, I got a stomach bug and spent Saturday with the rest of the family touring a ghost town that luckily had decent public restrooms, because I needed one about every twenty minutes.
After that ordeal, I had to drive myself three hours back to Vegas to come home (Lynda is staying out an additional week), still fighting the stomach upset. And once I finally landed, it took me an hour of wandering around the airport parking lot to find my car.
It certainly seemed like he was ignoring my prayers or even deliberately screwing with me, but having had a couple of days to think about it, I’ve had some notions of why. I think I am guilty of doing just what I’ve advised others not to do: Treating the gods as wish-fulfillment machines.
Here I come to Hermes, after months of very inconsistent worship, suddenly approaching with a bottle of wine and a smile and a ‘by the way, could you maybe … ‘ “Hermes is not an ATM” is the wording that crossed my mind.
And I think there it is. Reciprocity. The gods are not amenable to being hit up for big favors after months of neglect. He didn’t let me down, and he certainly granted the most important part of the request, safe travels. But he did rather firmly remind me that this is a two-way street.
Hail to the fleet-footed, quick-witted shining one.