Saturday, November 17, 2012

As I was leaving the grocery store the other night, I was walking to my truck, and as I passed the row of cars on the way to mine, I heard that unmistakable sound.  At least unmistakable to me.  A car attempting to be started.  But instead of turning over, that characteristic "clickclickclick...."   I couldn't tell which car it was, but I knew somebody was going to be in a bind.  Dead battery.

I did a mental checklist in my head.  Got a good battery.  Have jumper cables in the back..

I hopped in my truck.  Still not sure which car it was, but knew it was close by.

Sat there a minute.

Saw a woman about my age exit her car with a look of frustration on her face.

Thought...  "I wonder if someone else would help her..."  Put my hand to the key of my ignition.  Paused.

She hopped back in.  Fiddling with something..  Hopped out again.  Door open.  Hand on her steering wheel.  Slowly trying to edge her car out of its parking spot.

Me still watching.

She struggling.

I finally gave in, and hopped out of my truck and locked it behind me, and walked over and asked if she needed anything.

Said she was ok..  was just trying to push it around to see if she could pop the clutch in 1st and start it that way.

I waved off her comments about being fine, and got behind her car and began giving it a shove with her.

Together, we built up some speed..  "You're so strong!" she says..  I chuckle to myself thinking.. yeah.. sure...  If you only knew...

She hopped in as I continued to push and popped the clutch and got started right up.

I waved to her through the rear window as she motored off.  She came around up the other aisle and honked and waved back to me, appreciative of what I had done.

I hopped back up into my truck and sat there again.  Thinking to myself that that was interesting.

I helped her out.  And it felt good to do so.  But...  I realized that I had truly hesitated.  That I came very close to driving off.  And while she had a plan and really might have managed on her own, I'm guessing she appreciated my help.

I felt frustrated that it took effort on my part of overcome some desire to stay un-involved in order to help her out.

It made me wonder about others who may struggle.  Or worse, others who don't struggle at all and don't even give thought to things around them.

While it is good that I acted.  And good that I won the internal battle this time, I felt very sensitive to the idea of how I would feel about a future situation.  How much should I help?  Should I always offer?  If my offer is accepted, how much do I help?  Should there be a line?  Am I doing it for them?  Am I doing it for me?  Why does it feel so unnatural to do it?

Food for thought.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Long Distance Relationships (or How I Almost Got Shot in Spokane)

It's funny when you forget interesting adventures in your past and then something kicks off the memory and suddenly you're enveloped in it like it just happened.  And then of course you run off and share it with people, because chances are, it's been ages since you've told it.

Today is one of those days....

About 18 years ago, I had started a long-distance relationship with whom became my girlfriend who I ultimately moved up to Seattle with some 4 years later.  She was living in Moscow, Idaho at the time, attending the University of Idaho, and we had met some months earlier when she road-tripped down to Albuquerque where I was at that time.  

We opted to spend Thanksgiving with her parents in Ellensburg, so I flew up to Spokane, and she borrowed a car from friends and drove from UofI to Spokane to meet me where we hung out for the night before driving to Ellensburg.  

One of the things I did for my gal given that she was a poor college student and didn't often keep basic medical/medicinal supplies around was to build her a kit with various stuffs...  Tylenol, Midol, Perioxide, Alcohol, band-aids, etc.  Basic stuffs.   I put it all into a square Tupperware bin, and I took red reflective tape and made a cross on the lid along with black vinyl lettering that said, "Kimmi's Health Kit".  She found it amusing..  At least.. at first. :-)

Being youngin's, the best we could afford for the night was ye ol' trusty Motel 6, so we got a room, settled in, did the things two new lovers do, and settled in for a nap.  

Around 12:30 or so, we both woke to a loud crashing noise.  We weren't sure if it was even in our room or something else, so I got up, kicked on a light, and listened at the door.  Didn't recall hearing anything in particular.  I turned to the bathroom to use the facilities and noticed that the big wall-size mirror in the bathroom was completely shattered and there was glass strewn everywhere.  I think I remember laughing about it, but also confused why the mirror would just have given way and shattered.  My girl crawled out of bed to come look at the mess with me, and as she was contemplating calling the front desk, I started looking closer at the issue.

On the wall on which the mirror sat, there was a fair sized hole in the drywall at about waist height or so.  I looked at the far wall, opposite that hole next to the door, and saw a small hole in the drywall there too.  Followed the hole to the wall outside the bathroom, and followed the trajectory of a scrape in the ceiling, a smaller dent in the opposing wall in the hallway, and to a copper jacketed slug sitting pretty on the carpet right where the path suggested it should have landed.  
At that point, laughter changed to nervous whispering and crawling around on the floor to get to the phone to tell the front desk to get us TFO!!

Local police showed up quickly while the manager on duty nervously escorted us to another room and helped us move our stuff.  All but the gift I had given Kim, which in our haste to leave the room remained on the floor near the bed.

After the police cleared the room, they discovered that a young man next door had been "cleaning" his gun on the toilet in his room when the gun discharged.  Accidental, they say, but I believe he ended up getting held, and the cops made him write an apology note to us.

As the cops headed our way to take our statement, one exited our old room with a big grin on his face, and as he walked up to us, he turned to Kim and said, "So... You must be Kimmi."   Never did get forgiven for that one...  :-)

After all was said and done, we settled back down, and that was the moment when I realized that if I had been up at 12:30 taking a leak, they would have found chunks of my sternum along with the slug on the carpet outside in the hallway.

Made for an interesting way to start the trip.  And wasn't exactly the last adventure of it, but on the way back out, we stopped again at the Motel 6 given that the manager had of course comped us the room.  And with as straight a face as we could muster, asked to have a room.  Preferably without a bullet hole in it.  The front clerk's eyes got huge when she realized that we were the ones from the room with the shooting.  :-)  Had a strange bit of celebrity that evening.  Was a fun way to wrap things up.