Friday, February 9, 2018

Ice Skaters and Hypochondriacs

Was just watching the Winter Olympics. The skaters are all amazing! They are sooo talented. But most of them had a bad case of NERVES and fell at one point during their routine. Of course, the judges all gasp like its never happened before. Then they discussed how many points the poor skater was going to lose. Next, everyone was saying what a poor performance it was.

Are you kidding me??? Only a handful of people IN THE WHOLE WORLD could do those dance moves, jumps and turns on the ice. It takes years of practicing 8 hours a day to get as good as those skaters. So why is some TV host gasping and saying, “Oh my! How unfortunate! That’s a definite full point off the score.”

The poor guy finishes his routine, then returns to his station, sits down and tries not to look like he’s planning to commit suicide later that evening.

Me? I’m shouting at the TV: “That was incredible! Wow! I can’t believe you did that? Where did you learn that move?”

I really felt sorry for every skater. No matter how wonderful they were, the news hosts both said very negative things about their performances. They were not at all encouraging or happy about the hard work these skaters put in.

I would be really pissed if I spent 7 years practicing my skating every day from 8am to 5pm and hardly had any life at all outside of skating, then announcers said I sucked just because I fell down.

“Yeah, I fell down! Yes, I came out of my spin too soon. So what? Only a handful of people on the whole planet can do what I just did so go suck an egg!”

That’s what you feel like saying but no one cares. The events have moved on and now there’s somebody else on the ice. They fell down too. Maybe everyone is just a little nervous. After all, the whole thing is taking place just a few hundred miles from Kim Jung Un’s palace and HE spent the day parading his missiles down the main streets of North Korea.

I know what it feels like to NEVER be able to please someone. My mother….argh!!! Painful relationship. Always on the verge of hugging her or strangling her. What a frustrating woman! She was soooo critical about everything and everyone. Plus, she was a hypochondriac. Never ask a hypochondriac how they’re feeling!!! It’s a trap! Turn around and run as fast as you can.

Otherwise, you have to stand there and listen while she goes over every ache and pain, everything anyone said or did that upset her. She’ll tell you how her boyfriend made a mess in the kitchen and came home late from work. She’ll tell you that her coffee maker went crazy and spewed hot coffee all over the counter this morning. She’ll say that she tried to make a roast, but burned it so now there’s nothing to eat.

While she’s talking about how there’s nothing to eat, she paces back and forth wringing her hands with furrowed brow.

“Mom, mom, stop! It’ll be okay. I’ll run up and get hamburgers or pizza. Don’t even worry about that.”

But she refuses to be calmed down that easily. “You just don’t understand. You’re so much younger than me. You don’t know what it’s like. But you’ll know one of these days.”

“Thanks for trying to cheer me up, mom. Brilliant!”

After ten more grueling moments of this conversation, I check my phone and say, “I have to go mom. Chelli needs me to watch her kids tonight.” And I get out of there as fast as possible. I tell myself I won’t go back for at least 3 months. I deserve a 3 month break. Let someone else go over and check on her. Let someone else call 3 times a week to make sure she doesn’t need anything. “I deserve this break and I’m taking it, Damnit!”

*Big Sigh* Okay, where were we? Oh yes, the Winter Olympics. I don’t like those announcers. They need to spend more time pointing out all the great things the skaters did instead of acting like that was the worst performance they ever saw. Just my two cents worth!

Thursday, February 1, 2018


Buried under tons of debris by an unfortunate landslide, Herman managed to wriggle free just in the nick of time. His bus would arrive at the corner stop in the next ten minutes and he couldn’t be late for his first day of work on the new job.

Dashing out the door, grabbing his hat on the way that morning, he was certain that he’d left the iron on. He had been late as usual and so, he had rushed to and fro with no time to turn off the iron. Now he was worried about that iron as he pulled himself free of the last of the rocks and dirt that had tumbled down the hill behind the park.
This hullaballoo Herman had come to expect of himself … always rushing around, no time to look both ways, usually behind schedule no matter the task. These mannerisms were a hold-over from his childhood and he could still recall his poor dear mother rushing about with seemingly no idea what she was doing most of the time.
His grandmother used to call it, “Running around like a chicken with its head cut off.” And each time she used the expression, she’d likely tell you about that time the headless chicken got away and about how the feathers flew as she chased her supper around the chicken yard frantically trying to capture it. Mental pictures of granny chasing a headless chicken caused Herman to grin for a moment. But then, he composed himself.
Next, he ran home still brushing debris from his clothing from the landslide. In the distance, he could hear sirens. He was pretty sure that fire and rescue workers were on the way to the scene. It was a relatively small landslide that had covered up a few cars and toppled over a fire hydrant. Water spewed and spurted 50 feet in the air, which was still full of gritty dust from the landslide.
Herman quickly placed his key in the lock, twisting back and forth, finally breaking the key off in the lock. “Oh darn! Drats! Why is this happening to me?” he mumbled as he ran for the front window. “Surely this window is unlocked,” he called, climbing onto a bench under the window. Placing his hands on the wooden trim around the panes of glass, he pushed and pushed. At last, the old window let go and begin to move up.
Herman threw his briefcase on the ground and put one knee up on the window sill, forcing the window up even more. Now he was inside. He ran to the bedroom. There was the ironing board and the iron. He ran over and jerked the cord out of the wall, but as he touched the iron, it was cold. He had indeed remembered to turn it off and the whole trip was for nothing.
“Guess I’ll change shirts while I’m here,” he mumbled. He unbuttoned his light blue shirt and threw it on the bed, then went to the closet. The only shirt there that didn’t need ironing was a blue and white plaid and it didn’t go very well with his gray suit. Nevertheless, he tore the shirt off the hanger, put it on and started back to crawl out the window.
Stopping, he said, “Oh crap! I could go out the door.” So he did. He ran around the house, picked up his briefcase and hurried for the bus stop.

Just as he arrived, the bus pulled up. He climbed on board, nodded at the driver and went to sit in his window seat, still huffing and puffing.
Apparently, Herman was from a long line of rushers; people who just couldn’t seem to get anywhere on time. It was his fate in life. It was his thorn to bear. It kept his life from being boring.
He sat in his seat on the bus and watched as fire trucks, ambulances and rescue crews whizzed by on the other side of the street heading for the landslide.
“Wonder what happened up there?” asked an old lady with blue hair.
“There was a landslide,” Herman answered matter-of-factly.
She seemed alarmed. “Oh my! Was anyone hurt?”
He glanced down as his dress pants. They were covered in gray dust. “Ruined my work clothes. Had to run back home and change shirts,” he said brushing dirt off his pants.
“Did you get hurt?” the old woman asked with some concern in her voice.
“Nah, where I was standing, it was easy to climb out of the rubble and get away. Now there might have been some people at that park, next to the hill where the landslide started. Not sure. Might have been some folks at that park.”

“Well, sir, shouldn’t you go to a hospital or report to the police?” The woman asked, now sitting up straighter in her chair. She was sure that Herman needed to see a doctor or talk to the police.
“I’d like to help, ma’am, but this is my first day on a new job and I can’t be late. I really need this job. I won’t be able to pay my rent if I don’t get a paycheck soon.”
“Oh dear,” she replied tucking blue hair back into a bun. “I hope you weren’t injured. Be safe now.”
Herman nodded, grabbed his briefcase and went toward the door. This was his stop. He descended the wide bus steps and placed a foot on the sidewalk. He did have a bit of pain when he walked. Maybe he would check it out once he got to work. Down the sidewalk he walked at a fast pace. His office building was just another 200 feet ahead on the left. In fact, there were a whole row of beige brick office buildings on this side of the street. They were all about 10 stories high. There were marketing companies, real estate agencies, a data control firm and a bunch more companies on this block.
Finally, he saw his building ahead. It was a tall, proud beige brick office building exactly like all the others except this one had big black letters on the front: 8525 Mission Place. Herman took a big sigh of relief. He was so thankful to have made it to work on time. Things were looking up.

Chapter 2

Just then, Herman heard a loud scream and looked up toward the sound. A woman stood on the balcony at about the fifth floor. She was arguing with someone.
“You’re a sorry cheating bastard,” she screamed, “and you don’t deserve me.” With that, she turned around and started crawling over the patio railing to jump.
Herman dropped his briefcase right where he stood. “Oh ma’am, please don’t do this,” he yelled. “He’s not worth it. You can easily find a much better man than him.”
The woman stopped, glancing down at the street. The sun was in her eyes so she couldn’t really see who she was talking to. “Who are you?” she yelled.
“My name is Herman. This is my first day to work here. I’m assigned to the accounting office.”
The woman was still perched on the railing. “Oh really? Well, I would have been your supervisor. Name’s Jill.”
“Would have been?” he answered. “Who’s going to teach me the ropes if you jump?”
She sighed under her breath, then glared at her boyfriend, Gary. He was still standing in the doorway with a horrified look on his face. “You really aren’t worth it, are you, you stupid sack of shit!” With those words, she crawled down from the railing and went back to her office. He tried to follow. He tried to explain how he managed to be caught in the broom closet with Arlene, the receptionist. Arlene was half-dressed and giggling when Jill threw the door open and caught them in the act.
Now Jill stomped down the hall to Arlene’s office and shouted. “You’re fired. Get your shit and get out of this building in the next five minutes or I’ll have you arrested.”
Arlene was frightened by the tone of Jill’s voice. “Yes ma’am. Sorry ma’am. It only happened that once … I swear!”
Jill still had her hands on her hips. “I don’t care and I don’t want to hear it. Just get out.” She pointed toward the door and waited while Arlene got her purse out of the drawer and timidly crept away.

She met Herman at the elevator. “You don’t look so good,” he told the woman as they passed.
“I was just fired,” she answered ducking into the elevator.
“Oh dear,” he mumbled to himself. “That’s not a good sign.”
Herman didn’t see anyone at the front desk, so he meandered down the hallway, peeping inside each office he passed. He was looking for his new supervisor, Jill. Finally, he reached her office and stepped inside. The cheating boyfriend was all red-faced and sweating. He was still trying to explain why he was taking Arlene’s blouse off in the broom closet, but Jill wasn’t having any of it.
“Look Gary! My dad owns this company and I DO have the power to fire you so get your stuff and get out of here right now. I don’t ever want to see you again.”
Herman began backing out of the office. He did not want to get involved in their domestic quarrel.
“Hey you!” Jill shouted at Herman. “Thanks for talking me out of jumping.” He timidly nodded at her. “You can have Gary’s office. He’ll show you where it is. He needs to get his stuff anyway.”

Gary could see he’d never talk Jill out of firing him while she was still so angry, so he took off down the hall with Herman following him.
Gary strode through the door to his office and went to start taking his things out of the desk drawers and such. “You won’t like it here and you won’t like working for that bitch!” he shouted as he tossed a stapler into a cardboard box. “Her daddy owns this company and she thinks she’s the queen bee.”
Herman shrugged. He didn’t usually get involved in people’s quarrels. “Maybe you shouldn’t have cheated on her.”
Gary rolled his eyes at Herman’s stupid answer, then threw the last of his stuff in the box, picked it up and stomped off down the hallway toward the elevator.
Herman looked around the office. It was spacious but needed a good cleaning. There was dust everywhere. He even had a window. He went to look out, taking a deep sigh. He was proud of himself for making it to work on time and he even had a nice office now. Things were looking up.

In the distance, he could see what looked like smoke billowing up from the landslide at the park. Maybe he should turn on a radio and see what the news was saying. He also needed to sit down in a chair and inspect his leg. It had been hurting ever since crawling out of the rubble.
Sure enough, Herman had a big bruise on his left leg. And a bit of dried blood. He wiped it away. Maybe he would drop by an emergency room on his way home from work.
Jill entered his office and threw a bunch of papers on his desk. “This is what that dipshit was working on before he screwed the receptionist. See if you can figure out where he’s at on this project and give me an update by the end of the day.” She said those words then stormed out. In a moment, she stuck her head back through the door. “Do you know what all those sirens are about?”
Herman stood. “Yes ma’am. There was a rock slide at the park. It looks like there’s a fire now.” He pointed out the window toward the smoke.
She went over to the window to peer out. “Oh my gosh! My dad was supposed to be at that park this morning. He takes his dog there walking every morning. Did anyone get hurt?”
“I was just going to turn on a radio and try to find out what’s going on.”
Jill took her phone out of her pocket and began looking for news stories about the rockslide. “Oh crap! This looks bad. Can you handle things here at the office? I need to go find my dad and make sure he’s okay.”
“Sure, no problem,” Herman said. “Don’t worry about a thing. Take down my phone number and call me if you need help.”
Jill did so then left. She grabbed her purse and keys, then ran to the parking lot. In a moment, she was speeding away. Herman went to the window and watched as her blue Ford sped down the street.

Chapter 3

For several hours, Herman sat at his desk in his new office and went over all the tax papers from the Master Driving School. The best he could tell, their bank account was in arrears and most of their bills hadn’t been paid in several months. The only thing he didn’t know was ‘why’. Maybe Gary had been cheating on more than just his girlfriend. Maybe he had been embezzling money out of client accounts. This situation definitely warranted closer inspection.
At noon, he went to the breakroom and ate his sandwich and his apple. There he met a few other employees and told them what had happened at the park and how Ms. Jill had gone to see about her father. All the employees seemed concerned.
At around 2pm, Jill returned. She walked briskly down the hallway, greeting several employees before entering Herman’s office.
He stood. “Ms. Jill, did you find out about your father?”
She threw her purse down and went to sit in a big comfy chair against the wall. “He was there in the park this morning, walking his Golden Retriever, Sammy. Dad broke his leg and had some scratches on his legs and arms, but the rescue folks haven’t been able to find Sammy at all.”

“Oh my! I’m so sorry, Ms. Jill.” Herman went over to place his hand on her shoulder in a comforting manner.
She broke into sobs. “I could have lost my father and all I was worried about was that cheating man!”
Herman dragged a chair over and sat down beside her. “Now, now, Ms. Jill. You are a beautiful woman and a good daughter. You lit out of here lickety-split as soon as you knew about your dad.”
She sighed. “Yes, I guess that’s true. Plus, I would never have even known he was there if you hadn’t told me.” She grabbed Herman’s hand. “Thank you so much. I owe you my life. I might have jumped off that balcony this morning if you hadn’t showed up. And I never would have known about dad without you telling me about the landslide.”
“Oh no problem!” Herman said smiling at her and giving her a tender, but brief hug. “I believe God sometimes puts just the right people in our path at just the right time.”
Jill started crying again, as Herman sat nearby, trying not to seem uncomfortable. Finally, she wiped her tears with a tissue from her pocket. “I have to go back to the hospital now. My whole family should be there by now. Everyone has gathered around my dad. After all, he’s had a harrowing experience. He seems more upset about Sammy than about breaking his leg though.”
Herman chuckled. “Well, that’s just a sign that he’s going to be okay. So now, don’t you worry a bit. You spend as much time at the hospital as you need. We can handle things here at the office.”
She seemed surprised by his words of reassurance. “So, you met the other employees?”
“Yes, we had a nice lunch together in the breakroom. I told everyone about the landslide and about your dad. But I didn’t mention anything about Arlene or Gary.”
Jill laughed. “Well, thank you for your discretion.” She sat quietly for a few moments. “Did you figure out anything about the accounting records for Master Driving School?”
Herman winced. “Oh Ms. Jill … I’m not sure you’re in the right frame of mind to hear about that right now.”
She seemed to know more than she was saying. “It’s not good, is it?”
“No ma’am. It looks like Gary was embezzling from them.”
She buried her head in her hands. “I knew it! How did I let this happen? I knew he was doing some underhanded bullcrap!”
“Ma’am, if your company has the money to do this, then the best way to handle this is just to replace the money and never let the people at Master know what happened. That will save your company’s reputation.”
Her head jerked up in surprise. “Can we do that?”
“Yes, ma’am. I believe we can. All we need is cash.”
She took Herman’s arm, then whispered, “Herman, if you could pull this off, it would save my dad’s company.”
“All I need are the account numbers to your bank account. I’ll transfer the necessary funds into Master’s accounts, then pay all their bills up to date and we should be out of the woods.”
Jill sighed. “Someday, the auditors will find out about this.”
He nodded. “Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it, eh?”
She got up. “I’ll go to my office right now and email all the account information to you. And you take care of things, just like you said … okay?”
Herman stood too. “Yes, ma’am. No problem at all. I’ll take care of everything for you, so don’t worry at all.”
She gave him a small hug. “I’m so lucky you happened into my life today, Herman. Thanks for everything.”
With that, she grabbed her purse and took off down the hall toward her office. Before leaving for the hospital, she gathered all the employees in the breakroom. “As some of you know, dad was at the park this morning during that landslide. He broke his leg and has scratches all over his body, but otherwise he’s doing well. I’m going to be spending as much time as possible at the hospital with him the next few days. Therefore, I’m making Herman here, office manager till I get back.”

All the employees looked around at each other, then stared at Herman. He was shocked by her words and was not used to being the center of attention. “Thank you, ma’am. That’s very kind of you.”
She continued, “I did just fire Gary and Arlene and most of you know why.” She paused as the employees exchanged sheepish grins. “Herman is very capable and experienced, plus he is a brilliant accountant and a very honest man. So please give him your full support.”
Everyone nodded, congratulating Herman on his new position. A few employees went to give Jill a hug and reassure her that everything at the office would be fine. Within a few minutes, she was gone again.
Herman stood up. “Well, I’m new here so I will need everyone’s help to get familiar with things. I will just thank you all for your support in advance.”
The employees agreed and continued to shake his hand and congratulate him. At around 5:30pm, the employees all began to go home. Herman got up and went around to turn off lights and computers. Finally, he returned to his office, found his briefcase and headed for the front door. It had been a very long, eventful day and he was anxious to get home. He was having leftover pot roast for dinner. And string beans … his favorite.

He waited at the bus stop and finally his bus came. Climbing on board, he nodded to the bus driver. “Did everyone at the park get rescued okay?” Herman asked the driver.
The driver nodded. “That’s the word I’m getting. A few people were trapped for a couple of hours but everyone’s free now … no serious injuries.”
Herman thanked the guy and went to sit in his seat at the window. He could barely believe all the stuff that had happened to him that day. Though it had been very hectic, it was the closest thing to a “Perfect Day” that he’d ever experienced. He saved a woman’s life, let her know about her trapped father, became her closest confidant and was chosen to be office manager. All in one day’s time. It was like … a whole series of miracles.
At home that afternoon, Herman was brought back to reality when he realized that his broken key was still stuck in the front door lock. He would have to crawl through the window again.

Nevertheless, he went up to the front door to try and jiggle the key and make it fall out of the lock. Almost giving up, he remembered that he had a magnet in his briefcase. He knelt by the ground, lifted the lid and searched each pocket till he found the magnet. Then he placed it up next to the broken key.
“Come on now … come out of there,” he whispered to the key.
At last it began to gradually move. Finally, Herman could take hold of the end of it and he gently tugged until the key was lying in his hand. “All right! Now tomorrow, we’ll have to get a new key made, won’t we?”
With that, he turned the doorknob and went inside. He placed his briefcase by the door, where he always kept it, then went to the kitchen for a glass of tea. He placed his leftovers in the oven and went to the living room to turn on the TV.
There, on the coffee table, sat a medium-sized Raven. “Well, hello,” Herman said to the bird.
The bird glanced up from pecking at some dust on the coffee table. “Wonk, wonk” it said.
“Are you hungry, little bird?” Herman went over and sat on the couch near the bird. “Oh my! It looks like your beautiful black feathers got scorched. You must have been at the park this morning during the landslide.”

“Wonk, wonk,” the bird said again.
“Well, I’m going to get you some water in a little dish, and I might have some bird seed out on the porch.” With that, Herman got up and went to the kitchen. He found a small dish and filled it with fresh cool water. Then he went to set that on the coffee table near the bird. It quickly began to drink. Herman laughed then went to the porch to find bird seed. He sprinkled a bit of that in a small bowl and went to set it in front of the bird. The bird was very hungry and began eating right away.
Quietly, Herman moved over to close the window that the bird had flown through. Then he went back to sit down in front of the bird and watch it eat. “Let’s see … now what should we name you? We could call you Gary, I guess. But Ms. Jill says that Gary is a stupid sack of shit. You don’t look like that at all.”
For a few more minutes, Herman watched the bird eat and drink. Then he turned on the TV. “I wonder where Ravens like to sleep?” he asked out loud, as an antacid commercial played on the TV.
Herman fell asleep watching TV. The bird settled into an old hat of his and seemed to be resting comfortably. Tomorrow would be a big day, Herman’s first full day as office manager. He was dreaming about being chased by a big, noisy alarm clock when he finally woke up and staggered off to bed.

As Herman snuggled under his mother’s fine old quilt, he whispered, “Thank you Lord, for this Perfect Day.”
With that, he went fast asleep.