Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In The Blink of an Eye

At first I thought it was age related.  Hubby was going to the coast this morning, to fish with a friend.  A last minute trip.  Oh, I didn’t mind that part.  But the nagging (girl) portion of my brain was…worried.  He’d be driving towards the beach during the beginning of the busiest weekend of the year: Labor Day.  He’s  a great driver in a world of not so talented drivers.  That’s  when it hit me that, on some level, I’ve noticed we’re getting older.   In the past I would’ve yelled, “Have fun!  You’ll be back  when?”, then add 2 hours on to that because well…fishermen have tales to tell, right?  Even when they’re in the same boat.

But his trips like this have become more rare than when we were first married and now a part of me mentally sits on the edge of her seat until he walks through the door.  Safe.  Because the world is a dangerous place.  And you never know.

Today the thought of wrecks nagged at me all day, no matter how hard I tried to push them away.  While worrying about a toocloseforcomfort accident, I never imagined it might be me in harms way.

On my way to the After School site, I knew the Director had gone home ill and that the kids had probably gotten back into the car when the door was locked, unwilling to wait 15 minutes on me.  As I began to round a corner I have driven millions of times, I heard it.

A wreck.  In reverse.

In most wrecks, you hear that tell tale squealing of brakes which seems to drag on forever.  You wince in anticipation of the follow up BANG!  But entering that curve was a surreal experience.  There was a huge BANG!, followed by a squeal of tires.  Instinctively braking, I watched a car drift across in front of me in a hail of dust and car parts.  The oddest thing was how quiet the car was…no engine noise.  When it finally drifted to a stop, the horn began to blare unrelentingly.   I was traveling north, she was traveling south.  We’d been at opposite ends of a deep curve and unable to see one another.  She had crossed into my lane, gone off road and hit a tree which kept her bumper.  Speed combined with impact spun her around, sending that car sliding past me, where it came to a rest diagonally on her side of the road, barely off her original lane.

When wrecks occur, two things happen: people either panic and run around like Chicken Little or they drive by real slow and gawk.  Although I was formerly a Tele-Communications Operator for the State Police, I was usually the voice on the other end of the line, calming down the hysterical while trying to get directions.  On some level, I always wondered how I’d respond in person to a sudden, out-of-the-blue crisis.

Today proved once a Dispatcher, always a Dispatcher.  Which is oddly comforting.

During a crisis, a sense of calm encompasses me, striding purposefully to the front where it instructs my normal, day-to-day self to kindly take a seat in the corner and await further instruction.  Normally, I turn away during gory parts of movies and heaven help me if an actor pretends to vomit…just that word alone makes my queasy.  And yet when something bad happens, Quiet Me retreats obediently to the  chair in the corner of my brain and allows Take Charge Me to handle things.

Today, as that car slid like a ghost past me, Take Charge Me made quiet, commands with a sense of calm I seem to be missing in everyday life.  Brake.  Check to see if anyone’s behind you.  Put on your hazard blinkers.  Put the car in park, turn it off and when you leap out to check the driver, look both ways before you cross the street. 

 It honestly never crossed my mind to stay put…or to think that others wouldn’t join me.  Yes, even in today’s world. 

As I approached the driver’s door, another individual checked the passenger seat.  It was at that moment my brain went, “Huh?”

There was no driver.  Only a deployed airbag.

That meant someone had gone through the shattered windshield on the passenger side.  But the other individual, looking around in a puzzled voice said, “There’s no one here!”  We’d both thought the cloth hanging at an odd angle out the windshield had been someone’s clothing.  Turned out it was the  passenger side air bag.  I looked down again.  No driver.  That’s when I saw the torso of an older woman on the floorboard of the passenger side as her huge purse fell off the seat.

“She’s on the floor!” I yelled as the other individual nodded she saw her.

Then a strangely wonderful thing happened.  We sprung into action like a well oiled machine, this stranger and I.  “I’ve got gloves,” she yelled as I replied, “I’ll call 911.”  Behind me a voice added loudly, “I’ve got traffic blocked!”

A plan…in less than  30 seconds over the blaring of a horn that wouldn’t quit as cars idled in long rows. 

Yelling over that horn into the phone I worried the Dispatcher would have hearing loss.  As it was an extremely long road, the Dispatcher asked for a landmark.  Everyday Me tried to help, offering a long fence and pond, which is well known.  Calm Me insisted I look around and when one of the Volunteer Traffic Directors moved his head, I saw a road sign.   I gave the name and tried to hang up before I began laughing. 

I’d become a Dispatcher when an older, well loved Dispatcher retired.  The street I’d given as reference point was where he’d lived before moving on to heaven.

I only became irritated when a fat woman who had THINGS to do bounced over to demand someone move the car blocking her way.  That would be mine.  She looked sheepish, realizing she’d sat and watched as the rest of us helped.   I moved it as she apologized.  It was only then that I realized the first 4 of us average Joes to respond…were all women. 

Dad would be proud.

The Woman with the Gloves was a nurse, who attended to the woman as she, thankfully, began to come to…even if she did insist someone else had been driving.   The rest of us directed traffic.  A Maintenance man took one end while the woman who’d initially blocked traffic took the opposing lane as her husband worked to keep the shattered windshield from falling onto the woman’s face.   I’m sure we made quite the picture: an older black man, a fat white lady in a skirt and short me who walked a little further around the corner to ensure no one hit Skirt Lady.  I can only guess that Calm Me reassured me I could be seen rather than run over.   Calm Me is good.  I did a dramatic  “Stop right there!” arm crossing wave to signal the car coming toward me should stop as the Maint. Man let his lane go.   The car stopped…and put on blue lights.  Seemed I told an undercover Cop to park it.  He did, grinning as he walked past to help.

The State Trooper arrived, asking what happened.  I saw the look of chagrin on his face when he found 4 women surrounding him.  And yet without prompting, we took turns adding to the story.  The 5th woman who’d run up, cell phone in hand, had witnessed it all; said the woman had been passing people like a bat out of hell, taking chances.  I kept wondering, as I stepped over the Handicapped marker on the road which had previously hung on her rear view mirror, if the woman was racing…or racing for medical help. 

When I arrived at the After School site, I phoned the office to tell then I was there.  Somewhere during that time I’d found a moment to call and tell them I’d be late.  Our secretary listened, awestruck as I described the scene.  And then she said, “You are so lucky!  A minute sooner and she would’ve hit you!”

Chills crept down my spine.  When I’d sprung from my car, it never occurred to me that just 15 seconds later and she would’ve hit…ME.

With a laugh I said, “My guardian angel will probably want the rest of the day off.”

And I bet the Big Guy with wings is probably sitting in a corner somewhere right now, taking a breather now that Hubby and I are BOTH home.  Safe and sound.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Microfiction Monday

Write a story in 140 characters, then let Susan know you came to play. 
This week's photo

"Isn't it ironic that Hell comes before Coolville?" she asked cheerfully.

"It's not Pre-Hell.  It's Belpre.  You definitely need glasses".

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday 55

It's time to play tell us a story in 55 words. If you write one, let the G-man know you played.  This week's is in memory of Dr. John. No, it's NOT original, but I did get it pared down to a 55.   I can hear Dr. John groaning from heaven now.
Dolly Parton and the Queen arrive in heaven to find one space left. 
Each explains why she should stay.
Dolly points at her chest. “God made ‘em perfect.”
The Queen drinks a bottle of Perrier, then uses the loo.
“You’re in,” the Angel nods.  
“Sorry Dolly.  Even in Heaven a Royal Flush beats a Pair.”

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chalk one up for Art for the Masses

Every now and then I get an amazing e-mail from my friend Claudie that I have to share.  This is one of those.  

The artist in question is Julian Beever from the U.K., who uses chalk on sidewalks to capture the public's attention.  The amazing thing to remember is THESE ARE ALL FLAT SIDEWALKS!  To cool you off in the summer heat, I've picked a few water themed ones.

Visit the artist himself, above,  here for some more amazing work!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Microfiction Monday

Write a story in 140 characters, then let Susan know you came to play. 

This week's illustration.
As Cliff checked the 1,000th revision of his notes, 
his Agent stood sadly in the corner. 

He'd been wrong to ask his client, "Are you sure?"

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Password is.....@y;}v%W$\5\

No, it's not a dirty word.  At least not that I'm aware of.  Instead it's a suggested password in a very interesting CNN article I read here.

According to the Georgia Institute of Technology, passwords are beginning to grow in length and the new standard being suggested is 12 characters long.  Yeah...what are we going to name the pets now?

However there is a method in their madness.  The group was able to crack the now standard 8 character password in two hours.   But using a 12 character password, especially using numbers and/or symbols if a site allows, it would take the team, using the same system, 17,134 years to crack your code!

So how in the world will we remember these strings of secrecy?  The suggestion was to form a sentence that was rather nonsensical....except to you, of course.  One of the suggestions was actually, "No, the capital of Wisconsin isn't Cheeseopolis!" 

It was an interesting read.  Prepare now, before 12 becomes mandatory.  And no, I'm guessing a sentence like, "I can't remember my stupid password!" isn't a good idea. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday 55

It's time to play "Write a story in 55 words".   When you do, be sure to let the G-Man know. 

Self explanatory

Seniors' favorite Nurse retires. 

Auntie’s Banker retires.

Electricity retires.  
Business phone follows suit.

Still employed.   
Hold on for 8 hours.  

Laundry.   Again.  
Pollen’s back.  Again.  
Calling for thunderstorms.  Again.  

Write Microfiction Monday.  
Funny illustration. 

Note to self 
Labors of love trump working for money.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Blogger Adds a "Spam Catcher"

Since I'm not usually plagued with spam [and no one needs to take that as a challenge!] I don't use Word Verification or Comment Moderation.  Oh sure, I use the e-mail notification, which allows me to see your witty remarks without going to my blog.  But that's more time saver than anything.

But today when I signed on, Blogger informed me in a cheerful green box that I can now sweep for SPAM by going to my Comments and looking in a brand new spam folder.  And I did.  Guess what I found?

So pal, I declared you my first official NON SPAM individual and took you out of that lonely little file.  If they come up with a HAM file however......

Ah come on, you know you love being the center of attention.

Have a great weekend folks! 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Microfiction Monday

Write a story in 140 characters, then let Susan know you came to play. 

This week's inspiration.
 Off to see the Wizard, he said. Need a heart.

Yep, leaving me like this was heartless.  
So Brainiac, you couldn't hand me the oil can first?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hi World!

Why yes, I DO know how to post more than on Mondays and Fridays.  But this week I've been slaying dragons, escaped imprisonment by Trolls and fumbled around, looking for an Exit.

Okay.  I've been verbally sparring with Auntie's Bank concerning her estate, the Summer Program is finally over and I've been lost under an invisible dome of Stephen King's making.

But didn't it sound more exciting the first way?

Actually, a lot of what I'd planned to do was put off by these balls of fluff evolving into electric, spitting fury.

From drought to monsoon season.  Yep, that's the sunny, sweltering south in August.  And as I type, it's starting to rumble again, meaning I need to get off the computer earlier than I'd like.  But once you've lost a modem or two to lightning strikes, you learn to unplug the phone line!

Is it just me or does this shot look like something out of a Stephen King novel?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Friday 55

It's time to play "Write a story in 55 words".   When you do, be sure to let the G-Man know. 

“Do we have plenty of food?  Batteries?  
Fresh water for three days?” he demanded, flashlight in hand.


“Car tank full?  Cell phone charged?  Got cash?  Or matches?  
Fire’s good,” he muttered.  
“Had your shots?” he added, eyeing the dog.

“That’s it,” she sighed.  “No more Stephen King before bedtime”.  

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Monday Microfiction

Write a story in 140 characters, then let Susan know you came to play.

This week's inspiration.

He’d mailed the N.Y. postcard to brag about his adventure
while she was left behind.

Shame he didn’t realize the postmark divulged
he’d only made it 25 miles from home.

Hey Map! I’ll see your 20…

…and raise you 10.


That’s right. Aug. 8th marks the date when, 30 years ago I said “I do” to Hubby.

Cool thing is, I still do.

But how the heck did all those years go by so FAST?!


Hopefully things will get back to normal later today. Horrible Thunderstorm Friday evening knocked out the power...and the telephone. No phone, no DSL. It was such a bad storm that the Telephone repair guy didn't fix our line until 10:00 p.m. Saturday night! Seems they had 5 guys on call....and each one had 30 calls!

So, with today being our anniversary, we're off to play. Try to get back this evening to check in with the rest of the world.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday 55

It's time to play "Write a story in 55 words". When you do, be sure to let the G-Man know.

Unlike some women,
she hated watching a man grovel.
And to be fair, after a few birthdays,
it was more difficult to get up off one's knees.

"Relentless, huh?" she muttered as he gloated.
"I demand a pardon upfront.
Jewish guilt is nothing compared to Southern Belle failure to be polite."

"Gee man, you win."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Random Mumblings

Yep. Evidently I mumble. It's the only explanation for why the kids of the Summer Program can't hear me. Or why the senior citizens continue talking when I'm trying to address the group...like today, at lunch.

(Maybe I need a little stage to stand on. So I can be seen. Or stilts).

Funny, I announced that I would share a list of items with them after they went through the buffet line. I had to pause when the sweet little lady who makes quilts for everyone began yelling, "I can't HEAR HER!" When that didn't work, she smiled and screamed, "Shut up!"

(Note to self: that might work on the Summer kids).

Once the shell shocked looks wore off their faces, I tried again. They were busy talking...to each other. Amazingly when I gave up and mumbled that there were only 12 biscuits for 16 people as I walked out the room, one of them repeated loudly,"Did she just say there aren't enough biscuits?!"

(Word to the wise. Hungry seniors move like a herd of buffalo being chased by a cougar when food is served. Never stand in their way).

The trick with the seniors is to let them get their plates, sit down, eat for 5 minutes, then spring announcements on them while they're chewing. Which I did. I got the feeling I was talking to myself about the time each table began carrying on their own conversation. I decided to have a heart-to-heart with the dessert pan in the kitchen which needed washing before I called Bingo.

(I hate Bingo. There. I said it. Now I won't be allowed to grow up to be a senior).

Monday was horrible at the Summer Program. SPLAT! doesn't even begin to describe it. Short version: I sent 3 of the older kids home. Permanently. They just didn't know it at that point.

(Note to self: I will be brave. Yea though I walk through the rabble in the parking lot, I will fear no evil...although I will be checking my tires and for any signs of fluid on the ground under my car that might belong to my brakes).

I faxed my Supervisor explaining the situation. I offered a compromise to keep them there part of the day, but gone before I arrived. My Supervisor called first thing this morning....and agreed with me. They needed to be gone before things got more out of hand and their anger became physical...towards the adults. I filled out the necessary paperwork, tried to call parents who had cell phones which were disconnected, then noted such on the paperwork. Finally, something had been done rather than talked about.

(So why is it I had to be the "responsible" adult when I wasn't the only adult who sent them home this month?)

One of the kids called this afternoon wanting to know if it was true they were kicked out for the rest of the program. I said yes. He calmly asked why, but his voice shook. Monday's angry 13 year old was now... just a kid. Confused. Sad. I explained they'd finally crossed the line, gotten out of hand and their lack of disrespect made the Supervisor choose their fate. He sighed, thanked me for explaining and hung up.

(I did the right thing. For all the right reasons. So why do I feel like such a failure? Why do I feel like I let THEM down?)

And so it goes. Until that sadness is replaced as I recall the first conversation I had this morning. And I laugh. This is what happens when you're overworked...and have an unnamed friend, recently shipped over from Ireland, who loves Star Trek to the point it has re-woven itself into my brain, past the childhood mental file I'd placed it in.

A group of airmen from the local Air Force Base are coming to give my Center's Craft Room a much needed face lift. It's part of their Leadership Class...and they hope to make it an ongoing project.

(Not as much as I hope so! Remember the car that drove into our front wall in January? That STILL hasn't been fixed.)

Three of them came by a couple of weeks ago to look at the room: their female instructor, a Staff Sgt. from the Engineering Division and the 12 year old who works for him. (There is NO WAY that kid was 18). He called and wanted to set up a time. Problem was, I couldn't understand one digit of his phone number on the answering machine. I left a message...wrong number. I e-mailed his instructor, saying I thought Staff Sgt. Rodenberry had called but I had the wrong number.

I thought that was cute. Rodenberry. Talk about Star Trek angles! He was an ENGINEER, for a group which FLIES in local air SPACE and he felt it ILLOGICAL that I have to climb up onto a chair, then place one knee on a counter top and stretch to turn the air conditioner On/Off. He COMMANDED that just wouldn't do. And so they left to PLOT A COURSE of action.

I returned his return call this morning. And I tried not to giggle.

Turns out his name is...Rodney Brady.

(It's all your fault, woman from Ireland!).

Hey, as long as his team can help us out, I'll salute and call every one of them "Sir".

With a smile.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Microfiction Monday

Write a story in 140 characters, then let Susan know you came to play.

This week's photo.

Agreeing to pick up a load of abandoned stone,
he'd never envisioned this.

Mother Nature cradled the remains in her arms.

He left it to her.