When I grow up….

This evening I drove home with words pressing the margins of my mind.  It has been a while since I felt the need or inspiration to share words with friends and strangers, yet tonight I am pondering another debate on this life’s successes and shortcomings.  What do I want to be when I grow up??

The curiosities and happiness of childhood dropped many potential interests in my way.  Books, lessons, and even Saturday morning cartoons inspired my inclinations.  I wanted to BE all kinds of things.  For a time nothing seemed as enticing as being an astronaut.  I had boxes of books, posters, pictures, and my very own telescope.  It seemed  insatiable…until the morning I watched the Challenger explode.  Maybe I was better suited for life on Earth.

A close family friend was very kind and encouraging to me.  “You’re a smart girl, and you like to talk.  You should be a lawyer like me.”…..so I read about laws, law makers, and legislation….and discovered that sometimes I simply found justice more fair than law.  I understood justice and law aren’t always the same thing.  Lawyers follow law.

The library yielded a book about a camp for kids with cancer.  I then needed to become a pediatric endocrinologist – until I babysat a lot and decided that I didn’t really enjoy kids enough, especially the ones who were too young to tell you what was making them cry.  Maybe I’d be better suited for adult oncology.  I began volunteering at a local hospital.  Helping the patients was immensely enjoyable, but it became abundantly clear that I did not care for other people’s functions and fluids.  Medicine was probably not where I needed to be.

Always encouraging, my teachers never said, ‘You should…..”, rather simply said, “You can.”  As I matured, approaching college, it seemed the question “What do you want to do when you grow up?” was one of the few topics adults were comfortable addressing.  Rather than listening to myself, asking myself what would make ME happy, I thought that ‘growing up’ meant using whatever skills my teachers, community members, and family friends thought I should explore.  Doctor.  Lawyer.  Indian chief.  What were all the options I never knew existed?

A number of careers have come and gone since undergrad.  Naturalist.  Lingerie Sales.  Field biologist.  Bat catcher.  Aquatic entomologist.  Grocer of sorts.  Furniture sales.  Retail management.  Where was I happiest?  Teaching kids.  No classroom.  No curriculum requirements.  No common core.  No standardized tests.  Hiking and kayaking every single day.  Living in a one room shack in the woods, never knowing if I’d have electricity when the wind blew.  Why did I leave?  Adulting.  Insurance, benefits, and knowing that if something catastrophic happened (like when my appendix tanked a few years ago) I’d be bankrupt.  I am envious of those who feel free in such a bohemian lifestyle, however, working at a job I loved every day was never going to allow me to ‘adult’.  I’d never buy a house, have insurance, a reliable vehicle, or savings….so I left it for grad school.  It broke my heart.

These days I am good at what I do, and today was a really good day.  It was fun.  We nailed it.  THIS is what my job is about….but then one of my grad school professors shows up expressing his disdain for my life choices in his acidic almost Slavic accent.  “Vhen vill you feenish your degree so you can get a real job?”  Instead of replying, “Probably about the same time that you stop leaning so heavily on spell check to make up for your failing of the English language.”, I simply say that this job pays better than my degree would have.  Although this is MY life and these are MY choices, it still stings a little.

I’m not a gambler or a thrill seeker.  I don’t want to be a millionaire, famous for anything, or in the history books.  So, what am I supposed to BE?  Granted, my job isn’t necessarily always spiritually fulfilling, and people aren’t always kind, it allows me to meet my financial obligations and set aside a bit.  I find my fulfillment in other places – learning things, building things, growing things, and teaching anyone who wants to share in the learning.

Perhaps too much personal definition is derived from a career….from what you DO.  What about what I AM, because I am SO much more than my pay check.  I think Eddie Vedder sums it up simply and beautifully.

“A mind full of questions and a teacher in my soul, and so it goes.”

The 12 days of Christmas past – and present. All the feels wrapped into a day.

So yeah, Christmas is tough.   The exhausted thinking organ between my ears is struggling to ponder.  It’s done.  Another one in the books.  Survived.  The only thing left to drudge through will be the returns tomorrow.

Last night and today were outstanding.  The fella’s brother came to visit.  Star Wars exceeded my skeptical expectations, in 3-D nonetheless.  Good friends, gift exchange, card games, and adult beverages.  Today, after opening gifts with the ‘not brother-in-law’ we spent the day with the rest of my family.  Food, laughter, family, and fun.  I’d thoroughly enjoy if this became a yearly tradition.  It occurs to me that I find a certain solace in tradition.

Sadness, however, seems to loom behind the curtains this time of year.

As we drove home this evening, the fella and I began talking about our childhood Christmases, and at what point the holidays became so emotionally difficult.

My earliest childhood memories of Christmas play on an annual repeat.  Christmas Eve was at my Grandma’s house.  We ate chex mix till we were almost sick.  Our gifts were few, heartfelt, and always included underwear.  I can still smell that house, see the yellow glow of the light over the kitchen table and an either side of the sofa.  My uncle would sit on the far end of the couch watching TV with the closed captioning on.  The grown ups would be around the kitchen table, sometimes having drinks.  We loved our time there, but were always eager to get home.  What if Santa got there before us??  On the way home I would scoot as far down in the seat as I could, lay my head in the bend of the station wagon window, and scan the sky for any movement that might be a sleigh.

As if tuned to acutely recognize the first lights of dawn on Christmas morning, we would leap out of bed.  Our parents required us to eat first, so cereal was sloppily slurped down, and one by one each paper was torn and gift exposed.  We never asked for much, and were appreciative for what we received.  After gifts, showers for everyone, and we would all drive to Nanny’s.

Nanny’s house was a much more formal affair.  Best behavior.  No food on the carpet.  Homemade candy, but don’t eat too much.  At lunch I sat in the back middle of the table we all filled.  Nanny, Aunt, Uncle, and my family – totaling eight.  It was best to keep your head down and be quiet.  Frequently I got in trouble.  One particular year, in order to consolidate space, Nanny had combined two jars of pickles into one.  I love sweet pickles and would quietly gorge myself on them as we ate.  This year however, as I reached into the jar and put the pickle in my mouth, I was met with dill.  Nasty dill.  I had no other choice but to swallow it.  I did.  My sister, sitting on my left, reached for the jar.  I slapped her hand away, still unable to stop gagging.  “Not them!” was all I could get out.  She caught on, started laughing, and then we were BOTH in trouble.  See, it was ungrateful of me to be anything other than compliant and appreciative.

Several years later, after undergrad, we were all sitting around the same table.  After some polite quiet conversation, my Nanny looked at my Aunt, nodded, and announced to the entire table that they had known for a long time that I was a lesbian.  Not that it matters, but I’m not.  It is nice, however, to know that they had accepted their conclusion with open minds.  Apparently a girl in her 20’s is supposed to have a husband and several babies, not be traipsing through the woods in a uniform doing ‘a man’s job’.  Years later, when the fella and I moved in together, her reaction was simply, “Well at least she’s over that lesbian thing.”

You see, they used to refer to me as ‘precocious’, and it wasn’t necessarily meant in the most positive light.  At 5-6 years old I recall asking my mother what that word meant.  She answered that they just thought I was as smart as a lot of grown ups.  How could that be bad??  That solution to my curiosity was probably the only thing that kept me present with that half of the family.   My perception was that I wasn’t who they wanted me to be and also not who they thought I was, yet they didn’t seem interested in getting to know me.

I digress.  The point is that we had a routine.  A set of traditions and time with family.  When Grandma and Grandpa died, that foundation was rocked.  It has never been as clear to me as it became today.

Lunch then gift exchange time.  My nieces opened the things I made for them.  As an adult I certainly enjoy giving gifts more than receiving them.  We laughed a lot and many special things were exchanged, until there were only three left…one in front of each of my siblings and myself.  Momma began telling a story about finding a box she had stored decades ago.  Inside she found three quilt tops.  The stitches, she said, were far from perfect because they were made when Grandpa was teaching Grandma how to quilt.  The fabric squares were made from old clothes.  Momma specifically remembered some of her childhood garments and one of Grandpa’s old suits.

I began to cry, completely embarrassed at the wave of emotion that had taken me.  It’s not them…though I do miss them…it’s the time, the place, and the comfort of it.  It’s a feeling of safety and regularity, and knowing that everything is taken care of and okay.  How frequently do we have that as an adult??  I have a job, a full belly, and a roof over my head.  That makes me more fortunate than many, yet I still find myself sad, yearning for something that cannot be replaced.

It is my hope that the times we create now will give my nieces something to look back on, and perhaps to miss…because things change and grow.  I’ll probably always have a little nugget of sadness in my heart for times gone by, but I have more joy for the times we have and the times we WILL have.  I’ll cherish those moment of sadness because they only mean I’m lucky enough to have had experiences worth missing.

The ___ days of Christmas past – is it over yet??

Yup.  I missed a few days.  No surprise, really.  Work – sleep – work – sleep….lather, rinse, repeat.

I began this holiday blog series as a way to share some holiday cheer with each of you, but also to bolster my own merriment, which has historically been lacking.  We all have our own reasons for finding this season to be tough.  We work to long, are exhausted, feel insufficient in our attempts to gift just right, aren’t able to spend time with friends and family, miss loved ones who can’t be with us due to distance or loss, or simply dislike what the holidays bring out in our neighbors.

In the last few days I have been cursed at, ridiculed, demeaned, and asked if my employer required me to have a degree in dog shit.  I have had TWO near misses as I walked through the parking lot, because people are in too great a hurry to simply look behind their car as they back out.  I’ve seen holiday novice co-workers cry, and even the most jaded of us is ready for this to be over.  Why is this season, when we are supposed to be celebrating the birth of Christ, NOT about humanity and love.  We have broken it.  Rather, we have allowed it to be broken.

This is the point I have to pause and remind myself that if you are reading this, you likely already understand, and might even agree.  I will leave it at that.  Instead I will share this memory of turning the tables on a holiday customer’s bad behavior.

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It was Christmas Eve…4 years ago.  I was helping a family select fish.  They had done everything right, preparing the tank and allowing it to become stable for the fish they would pick together as a FAMILY.  As we discussed what groups would be good to start with and what direction they planned to go in their stocking, a middle aged lady approached the cricket podium decked out in head to toe holiday finery.  She approached the podium, and it was clear she was in a hurry.  When I didn’t jump off the ladder as fast as she expected, she cleared her throat, raising her eyebrows and pursing her lips in agitated expectation, tapping her foot anxiously.

I only had one more fish to catch for the family who, noticing the lady’s frustration, had already apologized (unnecessarily) for holding me up.  As I explained that they were no problem and a pleasure to serve, the lady took her bad behavior a leap forward.  Making direct eye contact with me, she snapped her fingers twice and whistled at me as if I were a dog.  Something in my head snapped.  It was Christmas Eve after all.  The edit button in my brain malfunctioned and the words just rolled out of my face.  Touching my neck, I said, “Oh.  I’m sorry.  I must have left my collar and rabies tags at home today.”

Someone else must have helped her, because a few minutes later I noticed her in line being checked out by my supervisor.  I approached jovially and let the manager know that I was sorry if she received a complaint about me tonight.  When she asked what for, I told her the story….right in front of the lady who did it.  She was looking at me with bile in her eyes as my supervisor said, “What kind of jerk does something like that on Christmas Eve??”  She handed her the bags with her purchase and wished her a Merry Christmas.  I simply smiled.

To this very day, I consider that a win.

 

 

The 12 days of Christmas past – Part 4 We didn’t have a chimney

This is as I remember it…but perhaps Santa did this twice, as the second and third born (twins) probably asked our parents the same question:

As a child certain family members called me ‘precocious’ as if it was a bad thing.  I asked and answered a lot of questions, and according to my parents I wouldn’t walk because I could tell them where I wanted to go, and why I wanted to go there.  It came as no surprise to them when, during one of our first Christmases in my childhood home, I developed an almost compulsive concern at our lack of a fireplace.  We had a chimney.  It was attached to a wood cook stove that had a tiny fire box and a latching door.  The idea of Santa squeezing himself down that small square chimney only to land in the firebox was terrifying.  As I figured it, if Santa came down a chimney into a fireplace, all he had to do was step out and knock the soot off his shoes.  If he came down our chimney he’d get suck in the firebox and get cooked.

My parents maintained that Santa’s magic meant that he would be able to simply walk through the locked door.  I was a skeptic.

On Christmas morning I awoke to quite a surprise.  There were big muddy footprints all the way from the front door to the presents left for me.   Daddy was grinning from ear to ear, and Momma simply said, “I doubt Santa will be back today to clean up his mess.”  Apparently Daddy pulled off this little bit of mischief, unbeknownst to her, using his fire department boots and a creek mud.

Parents, remember.  You have to believe in it so your kids can too.

The 12 days of Christmas past – Part 3 The night my parents killed Santa

Daddy and little brother always had a thing for old engines.  These weren’t car engines, rather the hit and miss engines of use in the late 19th century and into the 30’s and 40’s.  They predate the modern conveniences of push button start and fuel injection.  There is no mistaking the glossy blur of the fly-wheel spinning, the deep pulsating, “Woosh woosh woosh woosh…Boom….Woosh woosh woosh woosh…Boom”, and smell of the combination of oil, fuel, and lubricant.

Five years older than my twin siblings, probably around 13, I had mostly given up the idea of Santa .  At eight years old, they were just becoming fully invested in it.  This one particular year Santa must have had a back woods search team on the ground.  The old guy had located, refurbished, and delivered my little brother a rather large linear piece of engine part.  I still don’t recall the exact name or function of the part, only how it appeared on Christmas morning.

I was the first one awake.  I tiptoed out of my bedroom and to the top of the stairs, scanning the haul.  Newspaper wrapped boxes with yarn bows.  Brown paper bags rolled down and tied w/ twine.  To the right of the Christmas tree, laying on Momma’s hardwood floors, was a sheet.  The sheet was white with small flowers, and draped over something large and long.  One end was rather round, then another roundish part in the middle, and the other end stuck up just like feet.  Clearly someone was trying to hide Santa’s body.  My somewhat morbid adolescent self immediately woke up the rest of the family, screaming, “Oh no!!  Santa’s DEAD!!”

My sister and brother come busting out of their bedrooms.  “What?”
I reply, “Yeah, just look.  He’s there by the tree.  Dead.”

Okay, so yes, I was a rascal of a teen.  My siblings’ tears were quickly abated when the parents arrived, and pointed out that there was a name tag on Santa’s ‘toe’, To: Little Brother From Santa.  They explained that there probably wasn’t enough gift wrap in the north pole to wrap such a gift.  For it’s initially rough start, the holiday ended well.  All were happy, healthy, and together…just as it should be.

We still give Momma and Daddy a hard time about the night they killed Santa.

The 12 days of Christmas Past – Part 2 The things our dogs have eaten

Most of us have at least one or two stories involving the holiday debaucheries of our pets.  Heck, the internet has entire sites devoted to cats destroying Christmas trees.  This post will be dedicated to the variety of inappropriate things our dogs have eaten in the last ten years.  We joke that they are smarter than a lot of peoples’ kids, and some of these incidents still baffle us.  They are hiding those thumbs somewhere under all that fur.  Also, no harm came to either of them…more on this in a moment.

2007 (+/-) Our girls really enjoy bird watching, bird catching, and bird eating.  I’ve always decorated my tree w/ a nature theme.  While we were working our girls pulled up a ladder and removed the artificial bird nests from the tree.  They ate the eggs, left quite a mess of twigs and branches all over the dining room, and looked VERY pleased with themselves when we got home.  Fast forward to 2015 and I get a panicked phone call at work.  “Are pine cones bad for dogs??  What about styrofoam??”  This year they ate the owl.  Did I mention both dogs are birding mixes? (Lab/heeler and Lab/Poiner)  One finds it.  The other gets it.

2009 – I had baked a tray of Betty Crocker double dark chocolate brownies for a party across the street.  Having done this a number of times, I left them to cool on top of the stove…on the back burner…well out of reach.  Returning home a bit later, the plate was empty.  It’s as if I’d never made the brownies.  Immediately, the panic set in.  Dogs and chocolate…no bueno.  I’m not proud.  I call the emergency vet.  She asks what kind of brownies I’d made.  I reply “Betty Crocker”.  She (very patiently) asks what type of chocolate was in the ingredients.  I scan.  “Dark bakers chocolate.”  She says, “Oh dear.  That’s about as bad as it can get.”  She instructs me to watch for changes in their pupils, twitching, and to monitor their pulse, which I do EVERY 15 MINUTES.  ALL NIGHT!  It turns out that we have two dogs that don’t have ANY chocolate sensitivity.  Luck us because…..

2012 – We moved into a lovely little house in the country.  Our new home is much closer to our favorite bulk foods store where they make the most decadent chocolate infused peanut butter.  Knowing he’d LOVE it, I bought some for the fella.  I took it home, wrapped it in numerous plastic bags, put it in a box, wrapped it in paper, and put on a bow.  I even buried it under the rest of the gifts…just in case.  Several days later, gift now an afterthought, I come home from work to two very guilty looking old girls.  Bow and paper to the side, box torn open, plastic chewed off, lid removed (thumbs) and entire tub licked clean.  There was no evidence aside from the trail of gift carnage from the tree to the dog bed.  Chocolate peanut butter…gone.  I didn’t even call the vet this time.  They were quite content in their indulgence.

2014 – Much anxiety.  Doggy surgery day was rapidly approaching.  Elder girl had destroyed her ACL and we were working hard to keep her calm and comfy.  The nieces had visited, snuggling and coddling the patient, and their coloring books and crayons had been left on the coffee table.  I came home from work a few nights later to a mess.  There was dog puke in every room of the house, and 47 of the 64 crayons were missing.  Again, I called the vet.  He laughed.  Loudly.  Crayons, being non-toxic to children, are also non-toxic to dogs.  They do make for some delightfully colorful poo.  For a while we laughed that it looked like we had a herd of unicorns in our back yard, or that our dogs poop better art than some you see in galleries.

Although they have caused me much panic, and created quite a bit of mischief, at nine and ten years old I only hope it continues.  I’m lucky to have quite the family – but for some folks their fur family is all they have this time of year.  So rub their bellies.  Pat their heads.  Give them a few extra treats.  They bring us SO much unconditional love and joy.

The 12 days of Christmas past – part 1

First, let me be honest and say that I just attempted to search yon internet for the plural of Christmas…with insufficient conclusion.  Damned English language.  Christmas, Christmases, or Christmasses…given it is the Mass of Christ…In either case it is NOT possessive, so just accept the title for what it is.

It has become an annual tradition for my mother and I to use one of my limited days off to make a little holiday mischief.  Sometimes we bake.  Most often we venture out to the wilds of retail shops looking for those laughable odds and ends to give the family.  This year, as we drove, we started reminiscing some of our family’s memorable moments.  Around memory 14-15 it occurred to me that some of you might get a kick out of the family laughs, cries, and debaucheries.

Day 1 – Underwear

If there were two things you could count on receiving each year from Grandma, it was a tub of homemade Chex mix and underwear.  Unfortunately, Grandma didn’t realize how underwear sizing worked, and each year purchased the size that was the same as our age.  The average twelve year old doesn’t wear size 12 undies….but CAN eat their weight in Chex mix.

It has been almost 20 years we’ve celebrated without her.  I still have the last Christmas card she gave me.  It’s the Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus in her arms.  Inside she simply wrote, “Merry Christmas.  I love you.”  Through all my moves, it has stayed safe, and remains one of my most treasured items.  It was never about the gifts.  It was about the time.

Words, words, words…

This time of year is tough for those of us in food and retail.  As if the rest of the year isn’t difficult enough, this season is a harried frenzy of  maniacal gift purchasing and ‘quality time’.  During this season it can be quite entertaining to simply observe, yet that can quickly turn into something more painful when you end up unwillingly involved.

I spent the majority of today asking the same question worded differently to break up the monotony.  “What can I assist you in finding today?” “Are we your first or last stop today?”  “Who are we shopping for today?”  After customer servicing for over eight hours, I didn’t want to hear my own voice anymore.

Near the end of my shift I saw a lady exhibiting ‘the look’.  Anyone with retail experience knows the look I speak of.  The eyebrows draw in together.  Eyes sort of squint and look left and right, scanning for something that isn’t there.  The lips press together in contemplation or frustration, and if they are really intent, they will raise a hand and beckon you to them.  I approached with a smile and friendly, “What are we looking for today?”  Her husband and young adult son enter the aisle with her as she says, “Pig ears.”  I walk her to the product, saying that if she should need any further assistance she need only let us know.

As I am nearing the exit of this interaction her husband asks if they are ‘good’.  I grin and respond, “I really don’t know.  I’ve never tried one myself, but most dogs seem to like them quite a bit.”  Not appearing to appreciate my attempt at humor, he asks again, specifying their likeness to rawhide.  I explain that though they do have skin, unlike rawhide, they are more cartilaginous.  My use of so many syllables must have blown his mind, as the remainder of our conversation included his sarcastic use of the word cartilaginous numerous more times.  As if to let me know that I’d spoken beyond my caste , he enunciated each syllable while describing several other toys and treats.  “Is this plastic or is it cartilaginous?”  “Do dogs prefer these rubber toys, or something more cartilaginous?” He later used it while being chatty with the cashier.  Between his snide comments, I managed to slide in something resembling a semi-apology for over-speaking, saying that I merely like words that call things what they are….and I left it at that.

Gratitude and humanity

The world is such a tumultuous place.  I haven’t meant to be neglectful of this project, however it has been difficult to find words worthy of putting to print.  My mind cannot fathom the depth of such hate as what we have observed both in action, and in response.  In over simplification, I feel like the entire world is broken…..and yet we still have so much to be grateful for.

No matter what your faith or political affiliation, I ask you to simply consider your humanity before engaging in rhetoric.  I’m not suggesting that any one of you is more right or wrong than the next, only that humanity is what sets us apart from a virus on this Earth.

I don’t have answers.  I don’t even think I can grasp what direction should be taken or where all the pieces will land.  I only hope that when we land we retain our humanity.

I am grateful for the life and light in each of you.  I am grateful for the life I have been granted, it’s joys and it’s challenges (and there have been challenges).  Every day we have is sacred.  In these trying times, sometimes it helps to simply find something to be grateful for.

Skepticism is healthy

It appears the universe has no intent of ceasing the rain long enough for me to mow the yard and mulch the leaves one last time.  Today was wet.  Soppy wet.  I cannot tolerate a wasted day, and began milling around the house eyeballing of all the things that needed to be made tolerable as we enter the season of being cloistered indoors.  The giant amaryllis and peace lilies that had been outside all summer needed to find comfortable placement.  The kitchen counters seem overwhelmed with various sizes of 75 year old bale jars storing grains, nuts, salts, and other bulk goods.  There has to be a better way to organize that.  If I’m going to be forced to spend more time inside, I might as well have things the way I like them.

During a brief easing of the rain, I decided that the heretofore forgotten carrots should probably be harvested.  The rainy stint had been good for them, and the ground was very courteously willing to release them.  Purple, white, and orange, the carnival carrots always amaze me.  As I pulled the last root from the ground, my dogs began to fuss.  Barking with intent.  Hackles raised.  My girls are very good judges of character.  I didn’t stop them as the man walked into my driveway.  My fella was outside with me.  We called the dogs to us, they promptly respond, and the man thanks us for not letting him ‘get bit’.  I suggest that if he didn’t want to get bitten he might have chosen not to walk into the driveway with the two large dogs.  He continues toward us, explaining that his car broke down close to a mile away.  He wanted a ride to his father’s house on another nearby road.  He asked if either of us were willing to take him there.   Something felt unsettling, but my good-hearted fella, who knows the area very well, agreed.  I immediately ask him to join me in the house and tell the man to wait where he stands.  As we walk in, I immediately scoop one of our firearms.  I make sure there is a bullet in the chamber, check the safety, and put it in my pocket.  There was no way he was going alone.  My gut is not okay with this.  There are alarms going off in my head.  He asks to see the weapon.  I hand it to him.  He checks it, and pockets it himself, telling me to wait here.  “It’ll be fine.”  As we walk back out on the porch he directly asks the stranger where he broke down.  The man repeats the same location he had indicated before.  When asked, he provided details as to where his father lived, and how to get there.  I’m mapping in my head.

They pulled out of the driveway.

Immediately, I holster another weapon, grab my keys, purse, and phone.  I don’t like this.  In my mind I set a time limit.  I know where they are going.  I also know that it would be easy to lure a kind-hearted neighbor to an isolated rural location and rob them or hurt them.  My mind starts to go to dark places.  It’s been raining.  Why wasn’t the guy soaked if he walked such a distance to our house??  His hair was dry.  Why didn’t I ask his name??  He could have just lied.  I make mental note of his clothing, haircut, bushy eyebrows, odd speech mannerism…..

After about 5 minutes (the amount of time it would have taken to get there) I call my fella’s phone.  DAMN IT!!  He has an app that automatically refuses calls and text once his vehicle reaches 30mph….and doesn’t resume them until it is under that speed for 15 minutes.  This whole situation shouldn’t have taken 15 minutes.  Minor panic….thinking terrible things….but I have a plan.  I grab my keys, stand up to walk to my vehicle…..and there he is.  He pulls in the driveway.  Home safe and sound.

When I lived in Virginia I used to pick up hitchhiking Appalachian Trail hikers all the time.  I’d give them a ride up the mountain and share some granola bars or crackers I kept in my old Pathfinder.  I didn’t pick up ALL of them that I saw, but had no reservation in helping out a man or woman going form the bottom of the mountain to the trail at the top.  Why was this different??  Because my GUT said it was.  I didn’t make this judgement call, and don’t hesitate to tell you that I wouldn’t have done the same thing.  Does this make me an uncaring resident of my community?   NO.  It makes me skeptical on behalf of my own health and safety…and that is perfectly okay to be.