Tuesday, September 22, 2009

20 Years Later

Yesterday I received a reply to an e-mail I'd sent for my husband from a local newspaper guy. The man's closing line was, "Tomorrow, you'll have the front page of the paper."

Why? I wondered. Lately that's been reserved for local murders and I'm pretty sure my wicked thoughts concerning work haven't spread to reality.

It's cloudy today. Suppose to rain. We haven't had rain, real rain, in over two weeks. (I know, my Irish lads and lassies, but that's not good in the very hot south...turns us into a fire waiting to happen). Of all days to be reminded of the thunderstorm from hell: Hugo Anniversary Year 20. Hubby announced this morning that there was no newspaper in the mailbox. Odd. It's usually there before I go to work. I checked again on the way out. No paper. Now I'm beginning to wonder if this is some kind of elaborate practical joke. You'll be on the front page.

Dear lord, I'm not walking in my sleep doing bad things, am I? crossed my mind as I headed for work.

So curiosity got the better of me. Doesn't it always? I stopped at a store on the way to work and checked to see if they had the local paper. They did and with the world's boldest headline of "Tracking Hugo" I knew it was today's edition. Grabbing one, I placed it on the counter to pay for it when the headline below it caught my attention.

"Civil servant's journal chronicles storm's approach, aftermath"

I groaned as an old picture of me appeared to the left of the largest article on the front page.

"What's wrong?" asked the cashier, a bubbly young girl who often mans the front register.

"Of all the crappy photos," I mumbled under my breath. Yes, I HATE having my picture taken. So they'd dug back into their archives to retrieve one of me holding my MIA bracelet when I'd returned it a couple of years ago.

"What's wrong with the photo?" she asked, taking the paper to ring it up.

"Not my best," I muttered, somewhat humiliated at having been caught talking out loud. Occupational hazard, you see. Work with senior citizens long enough and you catch it.

"It's not bad. But why are you on the front page?" she asked, suddenly looking at me as if wondering where the murder weapon was.

"I wrote that," I said, nodding to the article as I dug for change. "A friend works at the newspaper and they were looking for stories about Hugo. So I shared my journal entries with her."

Yeah. Journal entries which looked as if the CIA had gotten a hold of them. The Editor and I had both giggled, in agreement, that some things were not for public consumption...especially if you took the time to note which public officials did not do their job during a disaster. Some of them are still employed. Some who have their fingers on the pulse of my pay check. So I blacked out um...unkind references and crossed out family stuff. I will, however, take this moment to publicly thank hubby for boiling water on a camp stove so I could have a hot bath during Hugo.

"Why?" she asked, puzzled. After all, she probably wasn't even born when Hugo came through. That checked my ego fairly fast. "Why would you know about this?"

"Because I was there. In the Emergency Operations Center," I answered matter-of-factly. "I went in Thursday morning at 10 a.m. and the next thing I knew it was 8:00 Friday morning and Hugo had blown through."

"You mean you helped people?" she asked, almost looking....awestruck.

"I hope so," I answered softly, the voices of all those people who called too late for me to help echoing in my head.

With a smile, she turned toward me and started to applaud. As I walked out the door laughing, she was still applauding.

Man, what a nice way to start the day.


Kim Ayres said...

You need to get a few wealthy friends to club together to fly me out so I can take an updated photo of you that you'll like :)

hope said...

You know, I'd actually TRUST YOU to make me look...photogenic.

Soon as I get the money, I'll let you know. ;)

Peggy said...

Hey sister, friend!

Many kudos to you, and what a
a great salute....Nobody ever stood up and clapped for me.
You do help people and you MADE A Difference in so many people's lives. I'm guessing that you make a difference in people's lives, everyday.
I've been reading your blog now for quite a while and I think, wow, I wish we lived closer!
I so admire people that can write well enough to be published.To be able to put sentences together and tell a story that make people feel so many different emotions. I clap for you too!!!
PS Maybe you can send some creative juices my way.

steven said...

hello hope - i'm really glad to read this as it provides the perfect segue from the original story through to your being recognized - albeit in a small but meaningful fashion. have a peaceful evening. steven

Titus said...

Is "You go, girl" suitably American? A guy named Gok Wan who advises ladies how to dress uses it over here. Anyhow, You Go, Girl!

Take up Kim's offer as soon as soon as funds allow. You will need a good photo for the back of the first book.

Titus said...

Oh, I'm applauding you too.

mapstew said...

If Kim is going over, can he pick me up on the way and I will serenade as you pose!
(I won't eat much, but I do need a lot of Guinness!)



hope said...

"Thanks Peggy", hope replied bashfully, wondering if she had inadvertently tooted her own horn. Yeah, I was raised to be one of "those" people who believe in the Golden Rule. And sap that I am, I like the internal reward from that kind of stuff.

My husband just called from his shop and said, "Okay, now you're famous like me. {Running family joke from all the press his archery shop has gotten}. So, where's the money?" I tease him that it's suppose to be "RICH and famous." Had to tell him,"Well gee dear, no one wrote about me so I had to do it myself...for free."
So I'm not so sure I'm a great writer who was published as much as a push over for friends in the newspaper business. :) But I swear one day we're going to figure out how to get all of us in a room at the same time!

Steven, you're so nice. :) It was an odd moment of pride mixed with an equal dose of embarrassment. Means I'm still normal.

Titus...I love that phrase! I do worry that I ramble on about ME too much though. I swear I can write about other stuff, but I'm easier to interview I suppose. :p

Map, if I hadn't already sworn to my Mom that I refuse to fly commercial, I would've used Kim's offer as an excuse to have a Scottish/Irish homecoming for ME. :) But hey, if I could find the money, I'd bring you all here. I'm sure Susan would be glad to round up the rest of the Irish while Kim grabbed his camera. What a group shot that would make! I'll cook, hubby can round up the refreshment, you can sing and Kim will document...because I believe he promised you a head shot too.

You folks are what making blogging so much fun..thanks!

Susan at Stony River said...

I'll be there!

Hon, I'm SO glad you finally got a 'hero' moment! What a wonderful way to start a day, especially when you're facing the work situation you've got. I just love that girl for applauding you.

You've got my sympathies on the photo thing; I rarely like photos of me.

hope said...

Thanks Susan...even though I feel a little weird about the attention. [My ego just kicked me and told me to shut up and take it.]

As for the photo, that wasn't modesty talking. Hubby even commented it didn't look like me. It wasn't just a bad hair day photo[which it was], I'm looking down at an object I'm holding. So I look like a happy, deranged person with bad hair and a face much rounder than looks back at me in the mirror. Sigh.

I'm hoping Kim has a lens for that. ;p

Janie B said...

What a great moment that was for you. I love applause!

the broken down barman said...


hope said...

Thanks Janie B and Barman [that sounds like a bad 70s biker movie: "Janie B and the Barman"]

Those are the moments you hold on to on days like today...seems today I'm "invaluable" as an employee because they need me on another special project.

We'll see how well they do when I take next week off. :)