I have been having a rather rough couple of weeks. Sometime, during the past couple of weeks, some tiny gremlins took siege over my sinuses. These gremlins are too small to be seen with the naked eye. They tend to travel in packs of four and, in spite of their size, produce a collective weight of 35 lbs. Their only goal is to take residence in the sinuses for as long as possible and make you feel like you are carrying a bowling ball on your neck. I tried asking them nicely to leave. I rationally explained that they were MY sinuses and they did not belong there. It was really nothing personal. I just really dislike this extra weight on my head. They scoffed at my naive niceness. To add further insult, these sinus squatting gremlins invited their friends to make my eyes itchy and make my voice sound like a mouse in a library.
This, of course, leads to the true source of my irritation. My loving wife was kind enough to go to the store and pick up some sinus medicine for me. Mind you, she did this partly to help me feel better and partly because she had caught my cold. I eagerly opened the package hoping that relief would come soon. My hopes were very quickly dashed. It appears that the sinus squatting, eyeball itching, voice vanquishing gremlins are in cahoots with the makers of SnotAway. They start by using transparent plastic on one side of the packaging. This provides you with a view of the medicine – tiny little blue gel caps of hope. This only serves as part of the torture. On the opposite of this medicinal visual tease, the medicine is sealed with a layer of foil held onto the plastic by an adhesive. It is then topped with another of paper that is held to the foil seal by the same adhesive. Each dose (two gel caps each) is then separated by perforations. The torment continues further as one corner is pulled back ever so slightly.
First, it starts with the perforations. I do what any rational person would do. I do the bending back and forth of the perforations to make the individual doses easier to separate. This does not work because the adhesive (used to hold the paper and foil seals in place) gets between the perforations. If they has used this adhesive on the Titanic, I wouldn’t have had to sit through a three hour movie explaining why some old lady threw her necklace in the ocean. So, here I am. I am already having trouble breathing. I am wearing myself into exhaustion bending this thing back and forth. Finally, I get some scissors to cut the perforations apart. The problem is, the combined effects of my cold condition and my exhausting efforts to open this stupid medicine have made my eyes water. The blurred vision causes me to slice my index finger with the scissors. Now I am bleeding and I need a bandage. Unfortunately, the bandage is sealed between two strips of paper held together by the SAME ACCURSED ADHESIVE. I can actually hear the sinus squatting, eyeball itching, voice vanquishing gremlins giving each other high fives in my head. I find myself crying myself to sleep in a fetal position.
Three hours later, I awoke. I tried to speak but the gremlins still had hold of my voice. The still-sealed, unused bandage is stuck to my hand from the dried blood. The scissors lay at my side along with the the still-sealed, unused medication. My wife takes one look at me and says: “Honey, I bought you some medicine. You won’t get any better unless you take it. Honey, why are you crying?”
When I was in the Navy, I can remember being taught that there were certain folks on base you didn’t want to ever upset. To be specific, there were five types of folks in particular who were good to have on your side: hospital corpsmen, dental technicians, postal clerks, disbursing clerks, and mess management specialists.
I was a hospital corpsman. Corpsmen assisted doctor’s and nurses with the medical care of military personnel. Corpsman have access to (among other things), immunizations records. Getting on the wrong side of a corpsman could result in the sudden unexplained disappearance of said immunization records. Immunization records (or shot records) must be up to date before personnel can go on leave (vacation) or transfer to another duty station. It’s quite possible that the corpsman will tell his buddy – the dental technician. Dental records must also be up to date. Suddenly, a rude an impatient sailor may find himself having to undergo dental x-rays and an exam in addition to the vaccinations he KNOWS he got six months ago. The dental technician might tell his buddy – the postal clerk who is stationed at the base where this sailor is transferring. Strangely, an issue has arisen with the forwarding of the sailor’s mail from the previous base. The dental clerk might tell his buddy – the disbursing clerk. Disbursing clerks handle payroll. Now the sailor finds that something has gone wrong with his direct deposit. The disbursing clerk may even tell his buddy – the mess management specialist (cook). The mess management specialist prepares a special meal for the sailor to “make him feel welcome”. Later that day, the initially rude and impatient sailor, has come down with a sudden “stomach bug” and has to go to sick call at the new duty station. The sailor finds himself with sore arms from vaccinations, sore gums from dental exams, homesick because he hasn’t gotten any mail from home, flat broke, and extremely nauseous (might have been something he ate). When he arrives at sick call. The corpsman notices that the sailor was last stationed aboard the USS Ersatz. The corpsman asks the sailor if he knew a corpsman by the name of so-and-so. It turns out that the former corpsman is “old buddies from boot camp” with the latter corpsman. The sailor is now as pleasant as punch and suddenly feels “much better now”. The next day, the sailor is informed that his mail has been forwarded, his back pay has been re-instated, and his immunization and dental records are all in order (once again). He even goes on to eat three square meals in the galley without incident (and uncertain what brought on that stomach bug the previous day).
It has been nearly twenty-five years since I got out of the Navy. I can honestly say that I have never participated in such a conspiracy about which I have just written. However, I couldn’t help but think of it as I went to get my hair cut this evening. I went to a stylist. The difference between a barber and a stylist is about $15. The stylist gently washed my hair and lead me to my chair. I told her that I wanted a very short cut. Her technique was such that I wasn’t sure if she was using clippers or 200 grit sandpaper. I watched her in the mirror as she did this. You’d have thought my hair was made of graphite and she was trying to erase it. I got out of the chair wondering what I had done to her to inspire such anger. Whom did I anger earlier in the day that knew her and called her before I arrived? Now I sit here in the comfort of my own home, satisfied with the final result of my haircut. One question haunts me: Are my shot records up to date?
I am not going to imply that I live a charmed life per se. However, on the average work day, I typically drive to work, work a typical day, and drive home without incident. Don’t get me wrong. I have had a day here and there where: my vehicle has broken down, winter weather has made me late, or a circulating sickness has caused my head to weigh 15 lbs. Such incidents are the exception rather than the rule. I can even jazz up my routine by taking a different drive to work or home and be incident free.
I went to work earlier this week and it seemed to be a day just like any other. En route to work, I made a stop at a nearby convenience store and grabbed myself a nice hot cup of coffee. They had several different blends available. I grabbed my little plastic cup the store provided. I turned the little spigot and the coffee poured gracefully into my cup. The aroma was wonderful. I grabbed my nice little plastic top for my cup. I typically drink my coffee black so it is usually hot for a while. I usually allow the drive to work to allow my coffee to cool down enough to drink.
The traffic on the way to work was rather light as it was the tail end of a holiday week. I called my wife on the way to work. The nice little wireless earpiece allowed me to do this quite nicely, safely, and legally. I got to work and found a great space. I carried my cup of coffee with the nice little protective lid and went inside the building where I work and to my desk. I started my rather routine workday. I reached for my coffee to take a sip. For some reason, as I began to drink from the little slit in the cup’s protective lid, it seemed I didn’t quite a watertight seal. Fortunately, I also have a coffee mug that I kept at my desk. I simply transferred the coffee from the cup to my mug. I now drank my coffee from my mug in secure water tightness. I had averted a minor crisis. At least I THOUGHT I did. I looked down and noticed a fresh coffee color stain on my dress shirt. The shirt was white with light vertical brown stripes and I was wearing a brown tie. I joked that at least the stain would blend with my shirt and tie. It was kind of strange to me that the coffee spilled onto my shirt in such a way that I did not feel the heat. I let out a small sigh and decided to carry on with my day.
The day went forward rather well from that point. It was nothing spectacular. It was just representative of the incident free routine to which I had grown accustomed. I performed my work duties. I conversed with my colleagues. I even enjoyed a nice lunch that was lovingly prepared by my wife. After lunch, I sat at my desk and began to resume my routine. Since I work in a call center, I sit in very close proximity to my colleagues. We do our jobs. We share some laughs here and there. We even occasionally share a high five or fist bump for a job well done. One of my colleagues returned from work and sat at his desk next to me. He was enjoying a cherry flavored Slurpee he had picked up while he was out. Several of my colleagues and I share our love for these shaved ice flavored drinks. You have to get them in a huge cup with a huge straw and a dome shaped cover which has a hole for the straw. Those drinks are heaven in a plastic cup.
As we all resumed our work duties, my colleague picked up his drink right where the dome cover meets the cup’s rim. Suddenly, the dome cover came apart from the cup. As my colleague and I were both wearing white shirts, we suddenly moved our chairs backward. We even leaned back in our chairs to avoid the flying droplets of cherry dye and shaved ice. It was like watching a scene with Neo and Morpheus. Of course, since we are guys, we’d probably debate about which of us was Neo and which of us was Morpheus.
My colleague dutifully cleaned up his mess and even had plenty left to drink in his cup. We all laughed it off and got back to work. All was well once again. That was until, my colleague grabbed his drink again and the dome cover popped off again. I can definitely say that, when it happened a second time, I was DEFINITELY Morpheus.
I have spent the last week and a half concentrating on reading. There are several reasons why I delved into reading so deeply:
· I had reached the end of a college semester and therefore a brief period of more free time.
· I love to read and, having reached the end of said semester, I wanted to CHOOSE what I was reading.
· I also love to write but, in order to write, I must also be reading. It’s the Garbage In, Garbage Out principle. My daughter edits my writing. I am sure she will find the comparison of my writing to garbage quite amusing.
· Last but certainly not least, it gave me (yet again) another excuse to create a bulleted list. I love making bulleted lists. The reasons are….PSYCH! You thought I was going to create another one; didn’t you?
Having all of this free time at the end of a year has also made me somewhat introspective. After all, it was just the end of a year. It was also the end of a decade. A lot of things have transpired over the last 10 years. I walked across the stage of the Blue Cross Arena in 2000 at my college commencement. This occurred with my wife, kids, sister, niece, and mother in the audience. I moved several times since 2000. My family has endured many harsh Western New York winters (including an ice storm in 2003). I endured long stretches of unemployment. The flipside of that is that I also go to work briefly for an airline. My last day of training for the airline, I got to marshal out a 737 aircraft. This incredible experience took place at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, GA on my birthday. I flew back to Georgia that same year as a surprise anniversary present for my mother. The following year, my wife sat at my side and held my hand after I had finished speaking at my mother’s memorial. Three years after that, I got to witness my wife handle her father’s passing with amazing dignity. I have heard both of my girls perform in various choir performances with voices that are nothing short of angelic. I have seen my older son, Tom; perform at club gigs as he becomes a better guitarist than I was 20 years ago. I have heard my younger son, Caleb; provide the history of Sonic the Hedgehog (he has a PhD in Sega).
With all of this looking backward, I mustn’t lose sight that I have so much to expect in the coming years. Caleb is graduating high school in 2011. Shayna is graduating from college in 2011. Thomas and Brianna are currently enrolled in college. If their most recent semester is any indication, I have no doubt that they will excel in their academic pursuits. My wife, Renee, is starting college again in 2011 with a degree to pursue a career in Social Work. She is projected to graduate in 2013. I am also enrolled in college pursuing a degree in Health Information Management. I am projected to graduate some time before Jesus comes. We’re doing alright and getting good grades. The future’s so bright….. Forgive me; I just received notice from a lawyer representing Timbuk3 with an injunction from finishing the previous sentence.