The Southwest flight from Phoenix landed in Sacramento on-time that Thursday night; a welcome end to a long and hot trip as witnessed by the sweat stains on the collar of Brad Smith’s white button down shirt. Why do I ever wear long sleeves to Arizona? Because his boss thinks it’s more professional than wearing a polo shirt, even though it was 102 degrees by 9:00 am this morning, and his last sales call ended at 6:15 that evening (with a resounding and fully anticipate NO!) Clearly rejection is professional when wearing a damp and smelly long sleeve shirt Brad thought as the plane landed.
The mechanical lady’s voice coming from the speaker on the air conditioned shuttle told Brad that he was headed toward the main terminal. Rather than go straight to his car parked on the 5th level, which was normal, he was headed downstairs to retrieve his suitcase from the lower level. The jogging gear Brad packed but did not use rendered his overhead bin sized suitcase too small, so he used the bigger one; ( note to Brad – stop pretending you will ever exercise while traveling when all hotels that you stay at have a bar). The shuttle stopped when Brad wasn’t paying attention and he bumped the lady next to him.
Every Saturday morning, just after our second cup of coffee, Lea and I make a list of what we need to accomplish before sleep overwhelms our tired and spent bodies late Sunday night. The staples are always present: laundry, mow the lawns, grocery shop, and clean the pool. We rarely list the fun things; movie, dinner out or play time with the grand kids, because we don’t want them to feel like a chore. Fun, although well planned, should be spontaneous by design. When we complete an item on the list we check it off with pride. Often on Saturday afternoon we review our list together to assess our progress. If we have done something not on the list and completed the task, we add it to the list so we can check it off. Our system of measuring weekend accomplishments has taken decades to perfect and has managed to successfully keep full blown OCD at bay. We have considered teaching classes on our method, but so far have decided against it. (However, if it ever makes the list we will do it). Our weekend ritual of making and checking boxes for work activities is both functional and enjoyable for us, but I wonder, what else in my life has become a ritual of checking the box?
Coming down the escalator to the terminal’s ground floor I could see the rain falling hard against the massive windows that made up the wall on the east side of the building. Outside, standing curbside waiting for the shuttle bus that would take me to the rental car facility; I came into personal contact with the cold, wet and very windy night. It was not cold enough to turn the rain into snow, but it was cold enough that it did not matter. After a long day of waiting, hurrying, dragging bags, stuffing overhead bins, and eating pretzels, I was tired and not looking forward to the 45 minute drive to my hotel. Still, real food and a warm bed was sufficient motivation to keep me moving.
I was moderately wet by the time I found myself in the driver’s seat of a foreign made “full sized” car. If this was a full sized car, I could not imagine how small a compact could be. Once I had located the lights switch, wipers, programed the GPS system, and adjusted the mirrors I was ready to go. I was driving in one of those states in the east where they did not know what a Bots Dot, or a reflector on the road was, or even reflective paint. On the pot hole filled road leading to the highway, I was having too much trouble distinguishing my lane from the one to my right or left; fortunately it was late and not too many cars were on the road. My lack of clarity was beginning to unnerve me, not to mention twice the harsh voice on the GPS box had informed me that it was recalculating my route because I had missed a turn.
I lived through another night. Funny, just a few years ago not living for any reason wasn’t something that I considered. Now, with all that has happened over the last 24 months, just being alive is a miracle. Although what I am doing isn’t really living…it is existing until I don’t anymore. If this journal survives, maybe it will help someone smarter than I am understand what has happened. I am not really sure.
There is an old saying that there is no free lunch; which implies that when you have lunch with a friend and they pay the bill, somehow that lunch was not free. On a micro view, the lunch was free to the person not paying, on a larger perspective, the friend paid for two people. So instead, maybe the saying should be, “Someone always pays for lunch.” There is an important distinction between not paying for something, and that something being free. Everything we use or enjoy has been paid for by someone or some entity. The beautiful flowers and trees that line the streets of my home town are free for everyone to enjoy, residents and visitors, but the city taxes we pay allow that beauty to continue. I’ve downloaded free apps on my cell phone, but are they really free? Someone worked hard to write them, and more important, I use my time during the day to use (play) these free apps, taking time away from family and work. Time is valuable and finite, so anything that occupies our time should be more important than the time lost doing it.