Blame the Antarcticans

You all have been picking on the wrong people.

We have made our way through the list.  We have been against women getting the vote, against communists, against black people getting fair treatment, against LGBQT+ folks, and we locked up some folks that we should not have in World War II.  And hey, we all need our stereotype groups to gang up against in action movies.  We do not understand them so they must be the enemy. 

Now we are told that we have to consider the feelings of alien invaders as well.  We cannot blow their spaceships into smithereens anymore.  We should instead talk it out with those that have antenna coming out of their foreheads and green skin. 

Somebody has to take the blame, darn it!  It cannot be our fault.  So who is it that is making our life miserable?

I will tell you.  The answer has been under our nose the whole time.  Literally, figuratively, and geographically.

Yes, my brethren, those that do not deserve our respect?  Darn Antarcticans.  (Boy, I wish I swore.)

Even now, my spellcheck is telling me that Antarcticans do not deserve our recognition.  These lowlifes do not even have a proper name.  More than that, they do not have a government!  Their land is ruled by treaty!  Allow me to show you just how vile these people truly are.

First off, they refuse fidelity to their homeland.  They want you to believe that there are no indigenous people living in Antarctica.  Now, the icy terrain of doom is a sometimes-home to tourists and scientists.  Have no hatred for those folks; they are just like us. 

It is the Antarcticans, those that are so ashamed that they cannot even admit that they exist; they are the real enemy.  They are the cause of all things nefarious. 

You want proof?  Okay.  The Ozone Layer.  Yeah, that big hole in the sky.  The gap in our protective buffer from the sun.  Where is it located?  Right above Antarctica.  And how big is it?  About the size of a certain continent.  You know the one.  Antarctica.  Guilty.

Do you know how evil Antarcticans are?  They hate pets.  They want to keep you away from your favorite puppy or kitten.  That is right, non-native animals are not allowed.  Why they got to hate so much?

They loathe fun too.  Want to go fishing?  Maybe in Vostok Lake?  Too bad!  It is stuck under piles of ice.  And if you can get past all that?  Drill through all that ice?  The only life there is microscopic.  How are you supposed to clean and gut a microbe and grill it for you friends?  You think I want to mount a microbe onto a fine piece of stained oak and hang it over my fireplace?  No! 

Of course, you cannot expect Antarcticans to cherish life when they live in a desert.  Some say they get .8 inches of precipitation a year.  Others will go as high as 2 inches a year.  Whatever numbers you like, the Sahara still gets twice as much.  Screw you, Antarcticans!  You skinflints!

Oh, and do not get me started on the cold.  -128 degrees Fahrenheit?  I do not think so!  Winters with no sunlight?  Sunburns while you are freezing to death?  Look, it would be rude to claim that Antarcticans suck.  But I will say that they exert a greater force on the interior of a container than the exterior.  Jerks.

Oh, and Dry Valleys?  Yeah, the driest place on earth.  Those folks have not seen rain in about 2 million years.  Talk about inhospitable.  I would offer you a glass of water.  What is your deal, Antarcticans?  They must do loads of crunches, because they are putting the ab in abnormal.

Maybe that is why we work so hard to ignore them.  They deserve to be eschewed and we all know it.  They have, what, 5,500,000 square miles to share?  They are the fifth largest continent.  But in the winter, they have maybe 1,000 people around.  C’mon, Antarcticans.  My high school was bigger than that.  You are a bunch of losers and we all know it.

Shoot, nobody had even seen their land until 1820.  Not even them.  You know what Antarctica’s name was supposed to be?  Terra Australis.  But people decided that land could not exist further south than Australia.  Australia got a respectable name, as well they should.  (Australia is great.  Kangaroos, platypuses, and Hugh Jackman.  ‘nuff said.)   

Antarcticans went about eighty years without a proper name for their home.  They were almost called Ultima or Antipodea.  The world was in no hurry.  Eventually, we saddled them with Antarctica.  We will give you vowels, Antarcticans.  But never our respect.

You know what Ernest Shackleton’s great achievement was when he spent three and a half years boating around Antarctica?  That none of his crew died.  That was it.  Just living is considered a success when you deal with those murderous Antarcticans.  Even the fish have anti-freeze proteins in their blood. 

A place is considered nifty if a dinosaur is found there.  You know how many kinds of dinosaurs the Antarcticans have given us?  A pathetic three over their entire landmass.  Lame, Antarcticans.  Do better.

If a human dies in the winter?  Then they are abandoned.  A man died there on May 12, 2000.  It was too cold for planes to fly.  His body stayed there until October.  Wow, Antarcticans.  Way to respect the grieving process.  Try not to be insensitive clods next time.

Do you know how much Antarcticans hate you?  How little regard they have for your schedule?  Are you ready for this?  There is no Antarctic time zone!  If you ask an Antarctican what time it is, they will laugh at you.  You have to decide what time zone you want to set your watch to.  How barbaric can they be? 

They are also against progress.  Antarcticans will not let anyone use their oil or coal reserves until at least 2048.  And there is no military allowed either.  Oh sure, they let scientists on.  They have something like twenty-eight countries running things in seventy or so labs.  Yet we are wise to them.  We all know the Antarcticans are putting on a show. 

“If we let them look at the stars in the sky during our freakishly dark winters, the world will like us!”  No Antarcticans.  We will not. 

Here is what a psychologist from the University of British Columbia said about Antarctica.

“Because of the environment, people do get irritable, sensitive, maybe quicker to take offense at something that wasn’t meant to be offensive.

I think it’s fascinating that there hasn’t been more violence in Antarctica.”

In yer face, Antarcticans! 

“We are not so bad!  Come see our active volcanoes!”  Yeah, one of which is under the surface?  Pass. 

“But, but… we have a canyon that runs for 62 miles and is 1.5 times deeper than the Grand Canyon!  You should come explore!”  So… what you are saying is that life there really is the pits?

Less than a dozen people have been recorded as born on Antarctica.  (No one before the twentieth century.)  The climate is designed to kill.  However, if that does not scare you away?  If you are still not convinced that these lowdown, no good, bottom of the deck dealing, spit in your face, rooting to see your destruction, dirtbags are worthy of your derision and contempt?

Then know this.  As of 2015, there were two ATMs on Antarctica.  Two.  And God help you if one of them breaks during tourist season.

The simple truth is that mingling with Antarcticans should leave you cold.  I would say they provide a chilly reception, but they offer no welcome at all.  They pretend that there are no native Antarcticans.  That I am making up a group of people to point fingers at so we can all have a focal point for our frustrations.

What, they think we should stop looking for people to blame?  That we should accept that people come from different backgrounds and varied experiences?  They expect us to get along with everyone no matter what and extend love to all?

Pfft.  Those Antarcticans.  Always talking crazy.

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Coming Across a Stranger

I can be too quick to judge.  I see a person and am prone to making assumptions.

Much of it comes from decades of working in downtown.  I have seen people injecting at bus stops. I have watched folks try to act like a regular person would, then suddenly switch to angry and threatening.  The averting eyes, the gaunt figures, the overall vibe of sketchiness; the warning signs quickly jump out at me.

Admittedly, it helps to create a safer environment.  Within seconds, I can decide to treat said person with a greater degree of caution.  On the downside, I tend to emphasize the threat that they might pose over the fact that they, just like me, are a human being.

Such was the case when I went shopping this afternoon.  I had just fueled up my car and wanted to do the same with my belly.  I parked my car and started to walk to the sandwich shop.  After I glanced at the car next to me, I made the effort to go back to my car, lock the doors, and then return to the sandwich shop.

The car next to me was showing the early signs of being sketchy.  There was the large crack in the front windshield.  It had gone far beyond the small hole and lightning bolt stages and was now into full-blown spider-web territory.  The car itself was a ‘90’s, four-door sedan that has long been retired by most.  Clearest among the warning signs was someone in the back seat of the car, pointing a large needle at their arm.  As I said; I have seen a few injections in my time.

We will call the person, “Dodge”.  Dodge had his car parked in a grocery store lot.  Not near the front in an, “I’m clearly shopping” sort of way.  No, Dodge was parked at the far end.  Those spots that staff might use if they wanted to clear up spots for customers.  The spots that bus riders park their cars in and hope they will not get towed.  Or, as I was keen to suspect, a spot where no one would notice or pay any attention if you were up to something or wanted to be left alone for a few hours.

I exited the shop at about the same time that Dodge was getting into the front seat of their car.  Dodge had on an unusual hat with a comically large brim.  A hat that spoke of an off-center personality.  A hat that said, “I belong to a bygone era”.  Dodge started up their maroon car and drove off. 

For some reason, I decided to exit the same way that Dodge had.  I wanted to see where they would go.

I think I wanted to prove myself right.  Perhaps Dodge would drive up to a small store with a glowing neon sign that read, “Drugs R Here”.  Maybe I would see Dodge get pulled over for the visual impairment that was their windshield.  I am sure part of it was curiosity, though I am afraid some of it was also an act of judgement.  I could not fix Dodge’s life, but I could go home content in the fact that I was right.

I watched from two cars behind as Dodge drove into the nearby park and ride.  The parking lot is so large that if one parked in the back corner, they could go for hours without being noticed.  I more or less decided that I had been right about Dodge.  However, what if I was wrong?

One of my favorite people in The Bible is the criminal from Luke 23:39-43.  I went through five different Bibles.  (The by-product of having Christian grandparents is being gifted a Bible.  Or three.)  This version called him a robber or a thief, that called him a rebel; the consensus seemed to be that he was a criminal. 

He shows up earlier in Matthew 27.  Specifically, verse 44 claims, “In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.”  The notes in one of The Bible versions claims that one of the robbers taunted Jesus, then changed his tune. 

There he is, defending Jesus in Luke.  One robber turns to Jesus and taunts, “Aren’t you the Christ?  Save yourself and us!”  The other criminal, our hero, if you will, jumps in.  “You should fear God!  You are getting the same punishment as he is.  We are punished justly; we should die.  But this man has done nothing wrong!”  Turning to Jesus, he says, “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom!”  Jesus, still being graceful as he is slowly dying, grants his request.  “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

We will get back to Dodge, but let us talk about the robbers.  The Picture Bible shows the jeering robber as being on Jesus’ left and the repentant/ our hero-robber being on Jesus’ right.  (Granted, The Picture Bible also portrays citizens of Jerusalem, Babylon, Persia, and the rest as being white.  Yeah, I know.  They were clearly going for more of an “interpretation” than “factual”.)  So, just for fun, let us call the jeerer Lefty and the hero Righty. 

First off, I want to know what sort of crime Lefty and Righty committed.  Righty claims that what they did deserves crucifixion.  Were they more than just robbers?  I am not a fan of having my phone stolen, but I am hardly about to murder someone over it.  Was Righty prone to exaggeration?  Or was he simply taking the argument up a notch to shut up Lefty?  Some claim that they were rebels that would violently ambush people.  There are suggestions that Romans used crucifixion to remove threats to their empire.  We will never know specifics, but I guess the cross really is for everyone.

Secondly, you have to admire Righty’s faith.  It is what makes him one of my favorites.  The disciples followed Jesus because of the miracles he performed and the lessons he taught.  Righty took it all on pure faith.  My guess is that he had never met Jesus or heard him speak; he probably heard of him through word of mouth.  (Or maybe he was picking pockets of the thousands that gathered to hear Jesus speak.  I will never know.) 

Regardless, all indications were that Jesus was defeated.  You know how a team may start off a season strong but as they start to lose, more and more fans fall away?  By the season’s end, when all hopes of a championship are gone, only the most hardcore fans are left and they can easily buy tickets at the last minute.

Righty puts even the most earnest sports fan to shame.  You cannot get more defeated than Jesus was.  His followers had deserted him and run off to hide.  He had been found guilty by the governing body.  There was no pardon from the commissioner coming.  He was whipped, beaten, and slowly dying.  This was not the time to take up Jesus’ cause.  The mission was over.  Death was a’knockin’. 

Yet he cannot deny what he knows is true.  He yells at Lefty the tormentor.  He gives his allegiance to a visibly defeated king.  This is the ultimate champion of the underdog.  He admits that he was not perfect, that he screwed up, and that he should get what is coming to him.  While he is at it, he asks for grace and mercy.

My kind of guy.

Let us return to Dodge.  It could very well be that everything I assumed is completely wrong.  Perhaps here is a person, injecting themself with insulin in the backseat of a car so that their daughter will not have to see any weakness.  Perhaps Dodge was going to the park and ride to take a bus because they did not want to operate a vehicle that was unsafe.  Maybe Dodge is trying to start a hat trend.

Or I could be right about Dodge.  Dodge could be mixed up in some unwise behavior and breaking a law or two.  Dodge’s behavior could be, well, dodgy.

If Dodge is the Jesus of our story, then they are misunderstood by me.  I think I know how the story will end.  I craft my theories and adhere to them.  Like the Pharisees, I believe what I see.  I create a villain, assume I know what is going on, and am ready to punish them.  I am quick to judge Dodge and quick to crucify them.

If Dodge is the Righty of our story, then Dodge could use some love.  Some kindness.  Some mercy.  This week should be a reminder to us that it is never too late.  The end has not yet been written.  People can still improve.  (Even judgmental ones like me.)  Spring is coming and resurrection might just be a few days away.  Happy Easter to everyone.

All that is needed is for a person to realize they should do better and act on that.  It worked out for Righty.  If I feel the need to meddle in those affairs, I could spend my energy praying that we all find more peace.

Once again, I have to relearn the same lesson.  My mission is not to judge Dodge.  It is to dodge judging. 

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When They Get You

The argument has been made that we all feel like outcasts sometimes.  I am quite used to people not “getting” me.  I am the quiet guy surrounded by music lovers.  The old soul who works with twenty-somethings.  The comic book reader who knows lots of gamers. 

When people do resonate with what I am doing, it tends to be in my writing.  If I can communicate what I am thinking in a way that clicks with others, then I am a happy camper.  What better feeling is there than being understood? 

When the notion strikes me, I try to write up nice and true things about the people in my life.  One time I wrote about my boss, who had to close up his two comic shops and lost his father all to Covid.  After I posted my praise on his wall, the note from his mom hit me the hardest.

When I wrote my article about George Floyd last year, it apparently resonated with others.  I did not post it to Facebook, but others in my family did.  The comments passed on to me were encouraging to say the least.

“Very moving piece and so thoughtful.”

“Please, thank him for me for his: observations, poignant sharing of his thoughts and feelings with ability to communicate those while giving visuals for the rest of us as well.”

“Beautiful… and so true.”

“Oh my!  It gave me chills.  Your son expresses himself very well.”

I like to be humble.  Yet I also like it when people say nice things about my hobby that I care about.  Which is not to say that my attempts always succeed.

I was trying to express my gratitude and appreciation for a company and their efforts to vaccinate people.  I saw hundreds of people moved efficiently and pleasantly through the grounds and saw them all get their Covid vaccine in an impressive show of the community coming together.  I wrote up a page of heartfelt compliments.  In return, I was told, “Thanks.  We appreciate your hard work.”

Granted, they did not owe me anything.  There was no obligation for them even to reply.  And it was a valid reply.  But it read as perfunctory; like a form letter was jotted off.  Our two writings did not click with each other.

Happily, the next day, I received a note that offset the seesaw.  I like Tillamook.  Their cheese is tasty.  I decided to tell them so.  I wanted to have a little fun.  They received the following note.  (Edited for length.)

“Dear Tillamook,

Look, we have a problem here.

As a child I was raised on Tillamook cheese.  Oh sure, we would get a Kraft cheese slice pulled out of suspicious cellophane envelopes and put on our bologna sandwiches every now and then.  But we hardly bragged about it.  We spent as much time folding the cheese into thick books, watching as the dairy product wobbled and folded a little too easily.  In our hearts though, we always knew we were Tillamook people.

Making a casserole with chicken and broccoli?  Then make sure it is covered in a layer of medium sharp cheddar from Tillamook.  Going the grilled cheese route?  I think you can guess the crucial ingredient.

The problem, and the reason I address you today, is you need to stop causing problems in my kitchen. 

My cat has caught on.  We all know sharing is caring.  I am not about to deprive my cat of a nibble of Tillamook here and there.  But hopping up on the oven while I am still grating the cheese?  She presumes too much.  Gobbling at the shredded cheese as I try to spread it on the casserole dish?  Rude.

Normally I can sit down and eat about two-thirds of my dinner before being accosted.  This is not the case when I have cheese for dinner.  The battle starts even before I can set down the plate.  The meowing.  The standing on hind legs.  The, let us be honest here, rather pathetic pleading of a cat who desperately wants an upgrade from the dried cat food she is supposed to be devouring.  No, when medium sharp cheddar is on the menu, she is quite adamant about getting her share.

I push her off.  I flick water at her forehead.  I lift her by that spot in between her shoulder blades.  To no avail.  We fall just short of hissing and overtures of claws.  Included is a picture of her attempting to lick up trace amounts that might have been cheese-adjacent off of the plate.  She is out of control.   

I leave it up to you.  You folks know your product.  You know what you have wrought.  You are the ones straining the patience I have with my furry roommate.  I leave it to you.  Either you start cutting corners with your delicious Tillamook cheese, or you start offering suggestions on how to get my cat to back off.

What have you got to say for yourself?”

The reply I read went as follows.

Did they get overly creative and think of a story that involved government organizations using their product to cure humanity as I had hope they would?  No.  Did they understand that I was trying to make their inbox a little less bland?  Yep.  They played along with me in the sandbox.

As my manager went off to a new job, I wrote her a note full of rhymes and mirth.  She replied with tears and stating that I had touched her heart.  The new manager came in and asked that all staff make note of her phone number.  That left me no choice but to initiate the following exchange with her.

I heard her laugh and listened across the room as she shared the message with others.  I found out that my new boss gets me.  She is willing to play along. I like it when others get me

Like anyone else, I like my efforts to be successful.  Sometimes they are.  Sometimes my friends will send me notes like this. 

I cannot change who I am.  Which only makes it all the more rewarding when people respond to what I have to offer.

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No Thanks

When I was a kid the family sat down at the dinner table.  Dad would either take on the responsibility himself, or he would ask one of us to pray.  Visits with Dad’s parents were more extreme.  When your grandfather is a reverend, you know you are in for the long haul.  We would often get a blessing, a meal, and then a lengthy Bible study afterwards.  I am not sure that a child of seven is built for two hours of dinner-table sitting. 

The message was clear.  We were to be a thankful family.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow.  Give credit where credit is due. 

Yet, even with all that being instilled into me from an early age, I have found myself slipping in this area.  I eat several times a day, yet I forget to say grace for the feast.

Being thankful for nature comes easily.  I have a few practices that help.  As part of my daily routine, I ride the bus.  At certain times of the year, the view is one of mountains and sunsets.  The work day is much less laborious when you can take a few minutes and take in Mount Rainier basked in sunlight.

A somewhat less majestic scene, but still a calming one, is that of Lake Union/ Salish Bay.  Every afternoon, I force myself to put down my book for a few minutes and catch a glimpse of the water.  With all the concrete and cityscapes in the world, the presence of a massive lake does my soul good.  I appreciate the splash of blue, with green on the periphery, and remind myself that it is not all gleaming towers and gray sidewalks.  Washington surrounds me with nature.

Sharing a workplace with whippersnappers has been another avenue for thankfulness.  At first, it was irksome.  “Why do I have to keep thanking these Millennials for doing their job?  They’re getting paid.  Isn’t that thanks enough?  I have to thank them for taking out the trash?  Really?”

I still harbor notions about how often one needs to be cheered on for doing their job.  However, there is an effect of this that I did not realize until years later.  It creates a thankful attitude in the person giving the kudos.  I started noticing the little things that were being done.  I found myself acknowledging more and more work that others were doing.  It was not just about making sure that they heard the compliment; it was also about me giving the praise.

The same notion carries over into my customer interactions.  People have been extra closed-off in the last year.  Masks on, headphones in, phones going the whole time; there has not been much interaction.  As each person leaves, I still give them a, “Thanks” or “Thank you”.  Granted, it is the polite, customer-service sort of thing to do.  More importantly, it also gives me more opportunities to cultivate thankfulness in my noggin.

I try to use my apartment in this goal.  I have a length of note cards going from my fireplace to my bookshelves to my entryway to my bedroom.  Each card has something I am thankful for.  My attributes that I like about myself are one color, people that I love are another color, and my favorite places have their own color.  It is not a complex system.  When you have dozens of blessings written out, and you walk from room to room pondering them all, it is hard to complain about the one or two things you do not have.

Then there is my plant.  My window-view that I fell for when I moved in was fenced off.  The main road outside was redone, the city demanded the apartment complex make a change, and the decision was to place an eight-foot fence right outside my window.  I am obliged that they at least made the fence out of wood.  But when I get home and relax after a long day, I prefer to look at live trees. 

So my plant is my saving grace.  And by plant, I mean fern.  I went so far as to ask the landscapers not to trim the area outside my window.  If I turn in my bed “just so”, I can see this little bit of foliage.  There are rocks.  There is a walkway going past.  There are steps and support beams.  Yet breaking through all of that is life.  The greenery will not be held back by the pervasive grayness.  In the same way that sidewalks and retaining walls have their grass shoots that stick out here and there, I have my plant that is there for me.  And I am grateful.

I am a work in progress.  I went through a twenty-one-day devotional on gratitude.  Most of it was what I suspected it would be.  The one thing that stuck out was saying grace before a meal.  I was reminded how effortless it is for me to eat whatever I choose.  In a world where many of us are unemployed and one billion people do not have easy access to clean water, I can make oatmeal in less than two minutes or have pizza in a dizzying array of varieties.  (As to the cheese in the crust debate?  That seems like asking too much from the world.  Too much decadence for me.  If you need that sort of excess, I shall not dissuade you.)

I have a large library of movies and books at my disposal.  I have a cat who has… let us call them, “expressive qualities”.  My roof does not leak and my bed is warm.  I go to sleep with food in my belly.  It is no surprise, also no excuse, that I have so many blessings in my life that I often forget to give thanks for them. 

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We’re at a Loss with Floss

As I have previously stated, I take issue with the dental industry.  I maintain that teeth should be removable.  Or we should all be able to unhinge our jaws like certain reptiles for easier cleaning.  But as a forty-something mammal, those options are not available to me.  …yet.

One of the silliest of all dental creations is floss.  You pull a piece of thread with an overdeveloped sense of importance about itself off of a spool.  You wind it around your finger, hoping against hope that you will retain circulation in your fingers while allowing a firm grip on your “essential” dental tool.  Then you cram said floss in between each and every nook and notch in the hopes that shoving the floss down will not prevent the unwanted materials from coming up with the floss. 

Where to begin?  Firstly, the floss is there to injure your gums.  The tough love policy is in full effect here.  If you are doing it “right”, the floss beats up your gums so much that they no longer bleed.  If you hold off on flossing, your gums bleed.  If you beat your gums into submission, they will put up a fight and stop being so wimpy about perpetual abuse.  Constantly assault your body.  No pain, no gain.  Oh floss, what a cruel mentality you advocate. 

You will accept the terms of the “protection” that is offered, or you and your establishment might get roughed up a bit.  Youse would not wish to turn down such a generous offer that is being proposed, would youse?  Go ahead and use the floss and we will not have any bloodshed.  The boss, he don’t like youse to undergo any such painful circumstances that could have otherwise been avoided. 

Next, and more egregious in these financially stressed times, is the unforgiveable waste.  Take a gander at the photo evidence.  On the left is a brand-new container of floss.  I have used none of it, but the container looks more than half empty.  Toothpaste tubes come so full that the slightest pressure sends the goop gushing out.  Toothbrushes are used for three to six months.  (And after that, they get a new life as bathroom-scrubbing tools.)  Floss though; floss is the racketeer of the dental world.

The white container on the right gets a bit of a pass.  It was free.  The manufacturer gives a trial size to the dentists who give it to the patient.  The manufacturer wants to create brand-loyalty, the dentist wants you to floss your darn teeth so they will not get blood on their hands next time, and the patient, like all good consumers, will take anything that is free.  The container is nowhere near full, but you still make out a winner.  Free is free.  Even though there is a vast area left to fill; we take the five yards of string and say thanks.

The green pack receives no kind treatment from me.  The package states that forty yards are present.  I feel confident saying that one hundred yards would fit.  There is plenty of room.  Make like a gas attendant in the fifties and fill ‘er up. 

Okay.  You get it.  The floss has plenty of elbow room.  Now comes the greatest of all crimes perpetrated to demoralize humanity.  In order to use the floss, you have to accept that ninety percent of it will never touch your teeth.  You pull a foot-long stretch from the spool.  You wrap it around each pointer finger three times.  Then you wrap it around your pointer and middle finger to alleviate pressure from the first series of wraps.  In order to attain the right amount of tension, you use up eleven inches of floss and leave a piddly inch-long span to work the teeth.  I said racketeer and I meant it.

There is no recouping dental floss.  No rehabilitation process exists.  They have found a use for cigarette butts.  They use those to line nuclear reactors.  It is true!  Cigarettes, which cause wildly destructive harm to the teeth (and also; y’know, cancer), can still serve a purpose afterwards.  However, used dental floss?  There is no hope for that.  (And if there is, I would rather now know.  If there is an afterlife for floss, it would be right up with there with saving fingernail clippings.  We can skip right over that deeply disturbing conversation, thankyouverymuch.)

Forty yards, and all I get out of the pack is forty inches?  “Here ya go sir, this ten percent is all yours!”  Oh, thanks.  You are too kind.  No, really.  Take my car, please.  It is the least I can do to repay your generosity.  I am forever in your debt. 

Sigh.

Justifying dental floss is like trying to explain why you need an outfielder in “that area over there”. 

“Look, Lou, how often does the ball get out there?”

“I dunno, Bud.  Maybe ten percent of the time.”

“You are telling me that ninety percent is a waste?  He’ll just be there, pretending to work while we keep paying him?”

“That’s how we play the game.  That ten percent we actually get work out of ‘em, it sure is swell.”

“Uh huh.  I hope he feels important and highly valued.  Somebody get a MVP award for this guy.  Tell ‘em he’s a credit to his family and we’re all honored he’s on our side.  For Pete’s sake…”

The temptation here is to go the cheap route.  “I am wise to you, dental profiteers!  I will simply buy the cheap stuff and make do!  Ha!”  Nope.  Not if you have tight teeth like me.  When that happens, the teeth snag and tear the frail fibers.  Upon trying to cram floss betwixt and between your teeth, you find yourself with two sections; one for each hand.  And, in the midst of the battle, a lone soldier has stayed to fight the good fight.  A piece of thread remains wedged in the foxhole, refusing to surrender. 

And how do we get something that is stuck from our teeth out?  Yep, with floss.  Grab another strand from the spool and get to work.  Reenact Saving Private Ryan and send the guy to get the guy out.  Only when the battered floss is free can the world be safe for caramel apples and Fourth of Julys.

Nothing will change.  They know we must floss.  On this matter, we can be bought.  Our price point is anything that keeps us from a drill.  If we can keep our dental expenses down and our mouths free of Novocain, we will play along.  I just want to make sure that they know that we know.  I suspect that they know that we know that they know. 

One day the battle will all play out on the big screen.  The racketeers, the baseball players, the soldiers; they will all be there.  The action, the suspense, the wheeling and dealing; we will take it all in as we munch on our popcorn. 

Aw, crud.  Pass the floss, will ya?

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One Does Not Fit All

Funny how one little thing can change you.

No, really. Go listen.

Covid has driven me to find new sources of entertainment.  I have been relying rather heavily on podcasts.  That led me to the comedy series, “Cabin Pressure.” 

I am usually not one for British humor, but this clicked with me.  Yesterday, I was listening to episode 04×04, “Wokingham”.  In it, the copilot and his boss get caught up in a game.  For two days, they talk to each other using solely words with one syllable.  (You can find the show here.  All the episodes are free.  And there are no commercials.  Thanks, BBC.)

You can ask to use, “the box with keys, a mouse, and screen up top”, but you cannot use, “computer”.  You may have a drink of pop, but not soda, Pepsi, or Sierra Mist.  You can discuss the merits of cats and dogs, but hedgehogs and parakeets are out of the question.

I thought to myself, “I could play that game…”

This morning I went to work determined to succeed.  I had no one to play against.  However, I have a gal pal (who is already delightful) that was up to the task.  I would try the game at my jobsite and she would do her best at hers.

It was not easy.  I prefer to say, “morning”, or “howdy”; perhaps the odd, “hello”.  Nope.  All of those were banned.  I had to force myself to say, “hi”.  For some reason, I kept getting stuck on the word, “today”.  I knew intellectually that I could substitute, “this day”.  My brain apparently has a greater fondness for the word, “today” than my ego does for victory.  Much like how the co-pilot on the show has to fight to not ask for “coffee”, I had to be mindful of “the day that we are in right now”.

As my friend put it, “this is hard.”  “I feel im not talk smart.  cant use ‘ing’ or ‘ed’.  It was text message, which means loosened grammar rules.  However, I remain confident that she was making a point.  We get used to communicating a certain way when the world changes the rules.  We know how we want to talk, but we get stuck.

I started to get a new perspective.  I could see people at work getting a little antsy as they waited for me to find the right words.  I was not able to speak sentences at my normal pace.  I stalled the conversation as I searched for monosyllabic responses.

Is this what it is like for others whose brains are wired differently than mine?  In a college drama class, my T.A. was upset that I was talking too fast.  “You think faster than your character does.  You have to slow down.”  It took me a while to comprehend what she was offering.  Today it was clearer.  What is it like in others’ brains where the synapses fire differently?

If I had a stutter, I would avoid words that would give me problems.  I have known people with speech impediments and I have seen their mouths struggle to form the shapes needed to get their thoughts out.  There was one gal I particular; I distinctly remember her mouth opening wide and her lower jaw shifting off to the side as she almost choked out the word she wanted to say.  Do people who have to fight to talk feel like others are tired of waiting for them?  Do they sit on their opinions rather than ask their audiences to be more understanding?

Saturday night I decided to have three pieces of pizza for dinner.  On Sunday morning my jogging was impaired.  I could feel the extra food slowing me down.  Whenever I have too much food in my system, I get a tiny glimpse of what it might be like for an overweight or pregnant person to work out.  I can ditch a pound or two and go back to being normal.  They have to exert a greater effort and keep at it as their body resists.

As much as I love running, I love words even more.  Yesterday I decided that a bad hair cut or even a bad hair day should be referred to as a “follicle debacle”.  I was amused by how merrily the sounds rose and fell.  The joy of the rhyme paired with the bounciness of the words.  There is nothing stopping me from building my vocabulary, getting more creative, and using language to say what I want in a way that is uniquely me. 

The one-syllable game planted a seed in my brain.  That which one can do effortlessly can be a mighty struggle for another.  Words have long been important to me.  But the ability to convey ones’ thoughts as they desire; that is something I may not have taken seriously enough before.

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Getting Us in the Bus

I am unwavering in my support of buses.  I cling to my bus pass.  I feel that I should only be scheduled to work when the buses are running.  If a job that sounds interesting is not within three miles of a bus, I will turn it down.

The tree-hugger in me approves.  I try to keep my world as carbon neutral as possible.  I buy gas for my car once every two months or so.  The fact that the bus-only lane is usually the emptiest in rush hour does not hurt either.

Half of my reading is accomplished while bus-riding.  The only way I can get through a hefty book is by being a passive commuter.  I can be quiet and contemplative in the mornings and I can be a contented page-turner in the afternoons. 

Add to all that the fact that there are two types of drivers around here.  We have folks that do not know how to drive in the snow, and those that think they know how to drive in the snow.  I found out long ago that if there is snow on the ground, I should not be behind the wheel.  One more victory for bus-kind. 

Those are all factors that make me want to ride the bus.  Then there is a different kind of variable.  This feature of bus-riding is what gives buses the reputation that they have.  I refer to the other people on the buses. 

My favorite bus driver has stated, “The company is doing what they can to enforce Covid.  But if you can avoid the buses, don’t ride.”  Confined spaces, a random population, and a contagious germ.  What can go wrong?  Take Saturday, for instance.  Man in a blue tie-dye shirt.  Sitting in the middle of the bus.  Wearing his mask under his chin as he continually takes puffs from his smoking device. 

Now, the driver can get on the intercom and try to enforce the masking rules.  But he can hardly stop the bus in the middle of the freeway, walk to the middle, and tell the man what he already knows is the rule.  Drivers can enforce masking rules about as well as they can enforce payment.  We all hope that everyone pays their fares and everyone respects each other as a fellow commuter.  Yet we all have our quirks.  And some of us let our eccentricities play out on the bus. 

Oh, the person who talks loudly and is on their phone venting about their life the entire trip.  Oh, the person that wears headphones but blasts their music.  Oh, the people that do not bother with headphones.  Oh, the person that bursts onto the bus with no shoes, goes to the back seat and nurses his hard lemonade no matter how much the driver or myself asks him to put away the drink so we can all go downtown and we can all get on with our days.  Oh, the twenty-minute delay as we wait for the supervisor to drive where the bus is stopped and ask the guy to get off the bus.  “Quirks”, indeed.

Let us go through the bus and find the seats that best suit the notion of sanity.

-The grey seat.  Nope.  That is for the driver.  If you ask them to vacate that seat, odds are they will not. Also, how are you supposed to read and navigate a 60-foot bus at the same time?  Exactly.  Find another seat.

-The brown seats.  Those are reserved for people with handicaps.  They fold up for wheelchairs, scooters, and comedically large strollers.  Unofficially, this includes freakishly large suitcases that could house a family of seven, and grocery carts (both small collapsible ones and ones that have been “liberated” from parking lots).  If it is the last stop downtown and they are empty, go for it.  Otherwise, find an easier mark.

-The purple seats.  There may be some people that have handicaps trying to get in these seats.  I know some are reserved.  Also, the exit is only supposed to occur out the back doors.  I like to be near the exit.  It saves me walking later, gets me off the bus faster, and makes it easier for me to assist fellow passengers in case of a water landing. 

-The green seats.  The only real downside to these seats is that they are four seats linked side by side.  You can fit two people on here without touching each other.  With three you can still have some room to maneuver butts.  Four though?  Rush hour/ max capacity?  The reality is that all the seats (no matter how poorly I drew them) are all the same size.  All butts are not created equal.  I have felt my legs go numb from being squished by nearby butts.  (See also the orange, white, yellow, and red seats.)  On the plus side, you get a nice view of the weather outside.  If you have a bus that is far from full, go for it.  (Though, in times of plague, you are staring right at another person.  Cross contamination is going to happen here if anywhere.  In this era the hazard is not worth it.)

-The orange seats.  The seats between two poles.  In a two-section bus, this is the part that swivels.  If you have lots of bags that might get caught in moving floor panels, avoid it.  This is also the section with the least amount of leg room.  Every person going to the back of the bus will loathe and/or jostle you.  If you are over six-feet tall, you will essentially be sitting diagonally so that your legs do not cause an impediment.  Short people only.  Plus these seats tend to have metal ends, so if your bench-buddy gets greedy with their side of the seat, you will be in some pain.  This is often the last section to be taken, and for good reason.

-The blue seats.  My preferred zone.  You are comfortably located close to the exit without being exposed to gusts, rain, or smokiness.  You have the option of a window seat or a bit of extra leg room.  The risk of being bumped is minimal.  Even if your neighbor is a seat hog, you can scoot your bum out into the aisle a foot or two.  (Not the most comfortable feeling, but it beats paying $17 an hour for parking in a garage.)

-The yellow seats.  This is where trouble starts to ensue.  The seats themselves are fine.  Not great, but fine.  If a group of teenagers is going to ride, they will congregate here.  If a passenger wants to inject something, inhale something, mutter to themselves, drink something from a paper bag, or generally avoid the driver, they will go here.  Watch out for those three-person-squishing-seats and the possibly sketchy atmosphere.

-The red seats.  If you can get to the corners, all is well.  Maybe others will squish you into the corner a bit, but the window view and extra leg room are worth it.  In rush hour, four people take up those five seats pretty quickly.  In extreme, Friday evening, get-me-home rush hour, grown adults will harken back to their family road trip days and reluctantly squish, scoot, elbow, and force their way into the seating capacity.  Folks will look uncomfortable, bags will be positioned grumpily on laps, and shoulders will be compressed.  Yes, it is possible to fit five grown adults into a five-seater.  (This is only for the seasoned, toughened-up, hardcore commuter.)

Then there is the fun of standing-room only.  Maybe there is a parade full of pink pussyhats or something.  (Happy International Women’s Day, by the way.)  Maybe there is a snowpocalypse.  Whatever the occasion, if a bus does not come for over an hour, things will get interesting.  Sardines will feel bad for bus riders.  Then things get truly awkward. 

Fun fact; the average bus seat positions the rider at approximately the level of my butt.  Or my crotch.  Either makes for a self-conscious trip.  Then, when the bus gets to the destination, the real fun begins.  When those that are seated towards the front try, like salmon, to swim through the masses to get to their homes.  You shove that person aside, you knock that person around, you step on the children huddled on the floor crying for the children, and eventually you get to breathe fresh air again.  Yes, you may have bruised or concussed the fellow rider or two, but they would have done the same.  “Get me off this bus!”, they all scream in one voice.

Public transportation necessitates interaction with the public.  Sometimes they smell.  Sometimes they yell.  Sometimes a person that has the comparative mass of two ski poles has decided that they and their bag need two seats, if not three, all to themselves.  There are characters aplenty. 

Yet, all who pay get to ride.  We are all equal on the bus.  There are no millionaires on the bus.  No dictators.  Only a group of people trying to get from A to B.  And what a journey it is. 

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Electing to Help

Note: I had originally posted this to my story-site, Anecdotal Tales, in error back in November. Now realizing that, I am moving it over to Horribly Awry where it belongs.

**********

My landlord and I have a curious relationship.  It started off normally enough.  I went into his office ready to resign my lease.  There was a note about how payments were to be submitted.  I had done it a certain way for as long as I had lived there.  The paperwork wanted me to do it another way.  He was unable to help me.  He was nice about my frustration, but I left irritated.

He kept being nice to me.  He was pleasant in the office; friendly in the parking lots.   I warmed up to him.  Then, last year, he and the maintenance crew went into my apartment for their annual fire alarm inspection.  He saw what sort of life I lived.

Later I went to drop off my monthly payment and he could not help expressing his enthusiasm.  The comic books, the movies, the cat; all were things that he loved in life.  We started talking about things that really mattered.  Things like Dawson’s Creek and Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.  I once had a Superman logo on my car.  He has the Power Ranger’s lightning bolt on his bumper.  We would make up scenarios where I was the mostly-calm leader and he was the goofy sidekick who wore dinosaur slippers and all of a sudden a piano would fall out of nowhere.  We bonded over silliness.

We are also both huggers.  He comes from the south and has a boisterous, loving attitude.  I have a long history of embracing hugs.  He was frustrated that no one in Seattle hugged (even before Covid).  I am happy to hug anybody at any time.  Some days guys gotta hug.

I do not drop into his office that often.  Most days I come home from work and am all people’d-out.  I have ridden the bus with people, walked down city streets surrounded by people, and spent hours trying to provide great customer service.  Get me to my couch and let me scratch my cat. 

When I did visit him, we always had a fun time.  However I knew our visits would be at least half an hour.  That is precious time out of my “sitting around doing nothing” agenda.  Then there are times when my gut overwhelms my introverted ways.

Earlier this year I was in the mood to vent.  There had been a car parked on the sidewalk.  There had been loud talkers on the bus.  Work was a mild lunacy.  I wanted to verbally vomit onto someone; purge my system.  I walked into our complex, saw his car was there, and went to his office ready to unload on him.

That day his troubles were greater than my own.  He had gone through some social complications.  This person had said this about him to that person and he did not understand why those people could get along with this person who was in touch with all these people.  (Humans are a mess.)

It became quickly apparent that I was not supposed to unload on him.  (I shared my pithy issues for a minute or three.)  The focus was meant for him.  He needed to talk.  He needed it out of his system.  And yes, he needed a hug.

We are friends.  I will send him a text message just for fun.  I am his favorite.  We tell each other that we love the other.  Manly embraces ensue.

Yesterday was another of those long days.  I was ready to be home.  I had turned the clock two days ago and the sunset came too soon.  Covid and customer service are a troublesome duo.  This election is one for the books.  I work in an area that is rife with protests and property damage.  Errands had made me late in getting home.

But as I walked towards our complex, I started thinking about him.  The election alone would probably stress him out.  He is a black man and gay.  That is hard enough to be at any time.  I have to assume that politics only make it worse. 

“I wonder how he’s doing?  He could probably use a hug.”

When his office door is locked, I take it as a sign that I do not need to visit.  Every other time that the door would not open, I have given up.  I go home to that feisty fluff of fur. 

Yesterday I felt like I had to give a little more effort.  I knocked on the door and waited for a response.

The door opened and the first thing I heard was, “I was hoping that was you.”

Another incident of small-scale politics.  He did this.  That involved that person.  But the third person said that he had to tell this to the second person.  The second person got mad at him (rightfully so).  He was surprised.  The third person said this.  He did not believe it and became cross.

“I was just about to write an angry e-mail when you knocked.  I’m going to take it as a sign.  I’m still going to write an e-mail.  I want to straighten this out.  But now it won’t be such an angry one.  I’m going to take your visit as a sign.”

I always assume that others have it harder than I do.  I like to think that I make time for them.  I admit that many times my comfortable life lures me towards inaction.  Then there are moments when I get a nudge.  If I listen to my gut then I act like the kind of friend that I should.

That was the end of it.  I had typed all that up and thought the story was over.  Then I tried to go to work this morning.

Every morning I pass my neighbor.  He is short, walks with a limp, and tends to take the same bus that I do.  He normally has a stern expression on his face.  I tried saying, “Good mornin’” to him a few times and never received a response.  I told myself that there are folks that do not like to engage others.  Okay; live and let live.  I stopped trying to wish him well.  I went on with my life, though I continued to have a grudge towards him.

So no, I do not feel the need to share a bus stop with him.  Social distancing is one reason for that.  However it has also been said that tall fences make for good neighbors.  I walk to the next bus stop.  We give each other space when we ride on the same bus.

Not today.  Today was one of those rare occasions when the bus did not come.  I abhor being late.  I walked back to my apartment, past the first bus stop where he still stood, and hopped in my car.  I knew, even as I started walking back to my vehicle, that I should offer him a ride downtown.  We disembark at the same stop.  There really was no excuse and he was probably as stressed as I was.  I was in no mood to make awkward conversation with a stranger.  Yet that little tap on the shoulder was trying to get my attention.

I capitulated.  I rolled down my window, put on my hazard lights, and called out to him at his stop.  “Do you want a ride?  The bus hasn’t come…”

It was then that I found out why he was so rude to me before.  “I can’t hear”, he uttered.

I was upset at a guy for not talking to me when it turns out he’s deaf.  Ah.  Got it.

He eventually recognized me across the dark car, comprehended, and hopped in the car.  Since he was deaf, awkward conversation turned out not to be a concern at all.  We simply sat there in the quiet and alternated glances between the raindrops spitting on the windshield and our respective timepieces. 

I had worried about having to talk to this person that was not my favorite.  I was worrying that I would not find parking or that I would be late for work.  None of these came to pass.

I dropped him off at a curb downtown.  He was very intentional about saying, “Thank you!” 

I found a parking spot.  I arrived at work with two minutes to spare.  I made it to work with all my needs met. 

Landlords, neighbors; I am surrounded with people that are constantly teaching me.  As much as I crave my ways, I still get those nudges that push me to learn just a little more.

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Age is Relative

My family has an issue that comes up around this time every year.  We are asked to celebrate an annual event.  That all sounds wholesome enough, right?  “How could you complain about wishing someone a happy birthday?” 

Well, her birthday only exists every four years.

Yes, my relative was born on February 29th.  Not me.  Nope.  My birthday falls on the same date every year.  Like any true American, I rigidly adhere to our agreed upon calendar.  But this insurrectionist?  This troublemaker?  This pervasive threat to our ideals and our way of life?  She comes along, stirring up things, with her made-up date.  Madness.

We have Daylight Saving Time in two weeks. We have Leap Seconds now and then. Is that not enough mucking with time?

Consider the fact that her daughter turned 16 last year.  Her mother is 11.  If we were in a giving mood, we could state that as of this weekend, her mother is 11.25 years old.  Yet that brings in the conflict.  If she really is a mature adult, then she should not be adding fractions and decimals to her age like some five-year-old.  But she will never get to an adult age if we do not fudge the numbers.  Dilemma!

If I were her daughters, I would use this to my advantage.  Here is a sampling of some of the retorts I would throw at my youthful mother:

  • When you get to be my age, you’ll know what life is really like!
  • Don’t you take that tone with me, young lady!
  • Respect your elders!
  • Your father and I feel that you are too young for this conversation!
  • Hey now, missy.  That movie is PG-13.  You wait up for me!
  • I believe only those that are old enough to drive get to sit in the front!

Yes, all of those zingers aimed at their mother must include exclamation marks.  They are, after all, teenage girls.

On the other hand, if we stick to the “you are only as old as the number of birthdays”, then it becomes legally problematic.  What has she been doing driving around and voting all these years?  Does her employer realize that they have a minor on their payroll?  Think of all the fraudulent signatures that she has wittingly committed over the years.  And someone legally married her!  Gasp!  For shame.

Then there is the gift-giving predicament.  Do we give based on the number of years that she has been on this earth, or do we give based solely on when her birth is?  My argument is that once every four years is the most accurate system.

Consider the, “but I have been on the earth this many years” argument.  Okay, so does that mean for every year you are on the earth you get a gift?  By that logic, Abraham Lincoln should still be getting birthday cakes.  You have to admit, as fascinating as he once was, he would make for a rather dry guest of honor. 

Oh sure, she could claim to have a birthday each year.  “Point to your birthday on the calendar”, I would say.  She would say, “It’s right in between those two days!”  To which I would reply, “Oh, so we should simply make up birthdays for you?  Toss in imaginary days to make you happy?  What’s to stop your kids from making up their own birthdays too?  Have these thousands of years of timekeeping methods not been good enough for you?”

My suggestion is that we tackle the birthday in fourths.  This year she would get 25% of a gift.  That way no one has to wait the entire four years to be appreciated.  And in respect for actual days, not made-up ones, the gift is not fully given until the proper day. 

“I got you the power cord to the blender!  Next year I’ll probably give you the lid.  After that will come the motor.  On the real birthday, you’ll receive the pitcher itself and you’ll be all set.  Won’t that be fun?” 

Of course, all Blu-rays would have to be coded so that only every fourth scene would play.   Each year an update would allow more of the movie to be accessed.  That sounds like a programming concern.  Hmm…

I understand that those born on February 29th suffer.  We know that whenever a medical practitioner asks them to verify their consciousness by stating their birthday, that same needle-poker will make a reply, quip, or comment on how “special” that day is.  The DMV, the police officer that pulls them over, the bank clerk; every single time.  All the more reason to relieve them of their burden.  No customized treatment for these 366ers! 

I can hear it now.  “I have gray hair!  I am raising three daughters!  I have traveled across the country!  I deserve to be celebrated each and every year!”

Yeah, yeah; poor tyke.  Life is unfair.  Get back to me when you are twelve.

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Our Best Shot

I have faith that I will be taken care of.

There are plenty of things that we put our faith in.  Key right now should be science.  Study a bug, research it, try to conquer it.  And science has been doing a rather gangbusters job the last year.  I think it is a miracle that people have been able to come up with a vaccine for a disease that did not exist in the last decade.  (Why we cannot cure the common cold or AIDS; that escapes me.  But one miracle at a time.)

Yes, miracle.  I believe in things unseen.  In the winter of 2019-2020, I had all of my needs met.  If I had not undergone a significant change, I would have probably spent much of 2020 stressing and job searching.  Instead, I made out fine.  I have been blessed and helped in ways that I can only attribute to God.  If nothing else, last year gave me proof that I will be taken care of.

Which is it?  Do we have faith in science or faith in God?  My faith is always going to be in God.  I am with Einstein.  Science is the study of God’s works.  Science can be a tool that God uses. 

I spent too much time being caught up in the Big Bang vs. God vs. Evolution vs. How Old is the Earth -drama.  I eventually found a stance that made sense to me.  If God wants to use an explosion billions of years ago, who am I to argue?  If God wants to make monkeys and then make man, who am I to give a crap?  I was not there.  I cannot create universes or lives myself.  I do not see science and God as mutually exclusive.  God can use science, or anything else He chooses, however God wants.

I am biased by my family.  We breed pastors.  We like God, love God, and try to obey God.

At the same time, we are science buffs.  Even when that seems to rub people the wrong way, we trust in God and pursue science.  My dad was once told that he would have to choose between theology and a career in science.  He almost spent part of his career at Los Alamos.  He spent decades in labs.  One of his laboratory friends was working on protein treatments that would later help presidents recover from Covid. He participated in, and later judged, science fairs.  All the while he was going to church and listening to God.  My mom was a nurse.  She cared for people in and out of church.  She has used both needles that inject chemicals and needles that sew quilts to help others.

I have faith that I will be taken care of.  My bosses are doing their best to get their employees immunized.  They have made their proclamations to government officials, written open letters; the head honchos want their staff poked in the arm.  As soon as possible, I will get my vaccine.

I am eager, but I am not anxious.  My body has shown no signs of shutting down in the last year.  I have a rather healthy immune system and a pretty boring medical file.  I am not high-risk.  Let others go first.  I have faith that I will be taken care of.

Photo from Wikipedia

What if I do not get the shot?  What if everybody else in the world needs it more than I do?  Then I will keep wearing a mask.  (This two-mask approach is murder on my ears. But if that is what it takes, so be it.)  Thus far it has worked.  No one has come up and spat in my face.  I have no phantom smells or chest pains.  All is well.

“Okay, but what if you do get Covid?”  I want to believe that it would not be too big a deal.  A flu on steroids, if you will.  (Later treated with steroids, possibly.)  I might take a hit, I would be reimbursed by my time thanks to my bosses, and I would come back from it.  I have faith that I will be taken care of.

“Sure, we all want to believe that.  But some folks with no previous quirks get hit hard.  What if you end up on a respirator?  What if you go down for the count?”

I… want to have faith that I will be taken care of.  I confess, that one causes me concern.  Being in a hospital would be a great stressor.  I do not do well when I cannot walk about.  I had a dizzy spell a few years ago and I never knew I could be that anxious.  I was kept sane by having family in town and a cat I could squeeze. 

Honestly, being on a respirator, having a tube down my throat, not being to move, being confined to a bed; that scenario causes me concern.  Scares me.  Which, let me tell you, is strong motivation for me to keep wearing a mask.  That is the alpha-level, ultimate, “Why God, why?!?!?!” -ending. 

There are plenty other uber-threats that could threaten my life.  There could be an earthquake and the three floors of apartments above mine might collapse and squish me dead.  My bus driver could decide that enough is enough and drive off the freeway bridge and plummet us hundreds of feet into the lake below.  (And I cannot swim.  So bye, y’all.)  A rabid lemur could escape from the zoo, bite me, and infect me with some sort of flesh-eating bacteria.  If I spent every second of every day worrying about the “coulds”, I would never get anything done.

I am going to do my best.  I am going to give people space and wear my mask(s).  And if I do get it?  If I get hit hard?  Then I will try to trust in God.

There is no promise that my life will be perfect.  I have found that the 80’s family sitcoms that I was raised on misled me.  Covid may kick down my door and hold me hostage.  (Which, admittedly, would make for a unique DreamWorks movie.  “Plague Party: Where the Hilarity is Contagious!”)

God said He would take care of us.  God did not say that we would never get sick.  If we could not die, then we would be immortal.  You think we are overpopulated now… Oy.  We all die sometime.  And if Covid is what does me in, it does not mean that God loves me any less. 

I do not have faith that I will get everything I ever wanted; that I will never need to visit a doctor or pharmacy.  I do not have faith that my life will be trouble-free.  I do not have faith that I am immune to everything going on around me.  But I do have faith in God.  Because of that, I have faith that I will be taken care of.

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