The California Stop

I want to talk to you all about something important.

The future of our world.

Ok wait, let’s rephrase, how about the future of America? Nope, nope, nope that still paints to broad a stroke.

Hmmmmmm???

The future of our youth and the direction our country may or may not be headed towards with them at the helm?

No, that comes off as narrow minded and degrading…

WAIT! I got it!

The repercussions associated with adults living and raising our children in the grey area created by society’s ignorance towards methods of the past?

Shit! I just can’t seem to get this one right!!!! Not usually my style to lack on words or the ability to use them.

Let’s try this another way, through a long, drawn out explanation.

Now before all you youngsters either hate me, understand me or feel the need for a safe space to sort out your feelings please understand nothing has changed over time when it comes to what I am about to tout. Only the players and the landscape for which they played the game. Life is cyclical and my hope is we are on the precipice of change. You old timers such as myself I hope will get this instantly!

The other day while driving through town I found myself yelling at another vehicle from the helm of my galactic beast! After 37 years driving semi-trucks, pickups, cars and oh yeah Fire Engines, with all that experience I think I have earned the right for a holler or two! I love driving, always have since the day I took the family tractor for a joy ride. Even with all that, I really only have a few pet peeves when it comes to the rules of the road and it drives me insane when I see others breaking them.

First and foremost let’s just get this out there, I am a certified serial speed offender! I hate going slow, I loathe going slow, I mean I really detest moving at the speed of stuck! But with that being said and placed so effortlessly on the table let me ensure you the minute I cross into any city limits I am Johnny law jr. I don’t break the law, I drive the speed limit, I use my turn signals, hell I even stop for pedestrians in the cross walk!!! Yup I am that guy. Living law in the grey…

So where was I, oh yes, the other day a certain individual in a newer blue mustang rolled hard up on the stop sign, and at no point even attempted to bring his 350 horsepower pony to a full and complete stop! Rolling right through as if the big red sign that said STOP on it was merely a suggestion, this idiot completed the perfect, textbook California Stop! Of course he glared at me as though it was some form of inconvenience that I was waiting my turn, being on the right of another vehicle per the law. Yet in truth I believe the glare was more of a fuck you. He knew he was more important than I, he knew he was more important with more important places to be than any other person so carelessly sharing the asphalt with this asshole and he knew he was an asshole and just wanted make sure I and everyone else knew he was an asshole. (Secretly I just like saying asshole)

Staring at this hellish, lame blue piece of shit for which the owner obviously cherished more than his wife or significant other, with its mirror like shine, extra loud pipes and fancy wheels a question flashed through my head! Crass and obnoxious as a teenage boys lifted Chevy Silverado rolling hard and loud with childish straight pipes and oversized 44’s I slowly pondered!

Where the hell did the California stop come from?

I remember (fade away music and fuzzy picture is appropriate right now for my flash back) back as child in the 70’s we were taught to obey the law, respect the law, and to fully understand that if you broke the law there were in fact very dire consequences! You acted respectfully to those who represented authority and from that respect you earned it in return. A very simple, easy to understand logic that ruled our little place in the world. Ahhhh Mike Brady would have been proud. (Look him up young ones)

It was simple really, here let’s do a short recap. Don’t break the law, doing so has consequences, show respect and earn respect, live life with no worries. See! Easy!

I’ll never forget the day my dad slammed on the brakes in his old orange ford sending me to the floorboard (easy youngsters there was no seatbelt laws in the days of the Flintstones) and screamed at some guy about his “California Stop”!

California Stop what the heck is that dad? I questioned.

That is where you roll up to the stop sign, then proceed without coming to a full and complete stop. It is against the law son. It is named after us Californians because we supposedly are self-important and have places to be which keep us from obeying the law because we are above that! (Ok I’m para phrasing for the love of god I was like 8 or 10!)

Being the semi- inquisitive type, you know; only when it suits me, it became my mission to watch for these California Stoppers. There were not that many upon a first hard round of observations. Dad said it was because the fine for running a stop sign was steep and it took points away from your license so people feared that happening. Of course being recently adept at earning a million points on my Atari playing Pitfall I couldn’t even fathom losing one damn point, let alone several! The thought left me paralyzed with fear!

But hey, we have the law, the good old fashioned black and white, dealt out swiftly by your friendly local police officers, order and tranquility, points earned and points lost, so straight forward and yet confusing at the same time law.

As I became 16, obtained my driver’s license and set out alone in the family station wagon, I was always terrified of breaking the law, in specific the act of running a stop sign. Not stopping for the full and correct 3 seconds or creating a sense that forward motion had in fact come to a halt was a death sentence for me. I always looked both ways and spent a considerable amount of time clearing intersections while ensuring the law was properly followed. It was easy really, and the only times I ever saw the law in my rear view mirror was either for speeding (grey area, GREY AREA!!!), being out after curfew or when I was once mistaken for inhabiting a truck hauling some burglary suspects and we (my friends and I) were all pulled out and sat on the curb like criminals! The grey area that time wasn’t the law it was my pants and they weren’t grey!!

Ok I am droning on, so anyways, as the years went on I began noticing people were increasingly no longer stopping at intersections all the way! Over a ten year period it slowly became the standard, I mean everyone is doing it right? Just up and keep going! Only stop if there is a light and even then on right hand turns people started to roll those too. I couldn’t figure it out! What was changing and why was it changing? We need law and order, we need civility, we have laws for a reason, to not have laws and obey them leads to all out anarchy right???

Then one day, I was in my early thirties, I too rolled a stop sign, oh I had been doing it forever (bandwagon jumper), everyone does, nothing ever happens so my friends say, which I always found hard to believe and yet here I was motoring on when Johnny Law slipped from a side street and lit me up all red and blue lights an shit!

My heart was racing, what had I done? As he walked up the side of my old Ford, I already had paperwork in hand but for the life of me could not figure out what I had done. I wasn’t speeding, I know I stopped at the intersection (California stop denial! its real check it out!), maybe a tail light was out yeah that must be it.

Rolling down the window the officer took my information, told me he would return and after what seemed liked hours as rubberneckers gazed upon my scarred and shadowed soul cast so darkly under the glow of blue and red rotating police lights. They (rubberneckers) all slid by as close and slowly as possible. Bastards! I just knew they were laughing inside the comfort of their cars, making snarky remarks while calling me every name in the book! You could see it on their smug condescending faces!!

The police officer came back for which I produced my best Ill kiss your ass smile. While handing my paperwork back through the window he then explained I had in fact rolled the stop sign at the intersection behind us. My father had taught me to always be respectful towards authority so of course I didn’t dare challenge his findings in regards to my driving ability. Oh and you know I stopped, I stopped hard, the hardest stop anyone had ever stopped since the dawn of vehicle stoppedness!

He kindly thanked me for being so polite and explained (because of my skilled Eddie Hascal impression) (kids look that one up too) he was letting me off with a warning. Please never run another stop sign again. Ahhhh wasn’t that sweet???? So nice of him to recognize pure sincerity when he saw it.

From that point on, as the years passed by I started noticing other things as well. People no longer moved out of the fast lane, choosing to camp there much like a Memorial Day weekend, staking their claim and not budging no matter how hard you pressed them! There were people passing on the right, all the time, as if it was safe! I mean last time I checked that was labeled the slow lane and the left was the fast lane and oh my god I feel as though I am in Bizarro land! Also people tailgating! Whatever happened to a minimum of three car lengths between you? It feels as though with some people they are so far up my ass I am expecting colonoscopy results at the next red light!

The world is definitely going insane! No one IS following the rules of the road any longer!!! The stop sign became merely a suggestion, a set of turn signals is now apparently an option on all vehicles, and I mean it must be because maybe 10% of people can either afford them or are using them while operating their car! Semi-trucks are given no room for stopping, red curbs are for parking because let’s face it, it’s only a few minutes and what the odds the fire department is really going to need that spot! Speaking of fire departments, hydrants are now all the rage to park in front of as well! They really make your car pop! While parked on the street!

Also a trend has formed with the invention of social media. Now you don’t just complain to your friend or neighbor, you start an outright media campaign over every injustice ever committed by anybody, anywhere, anytime!!! No matter how stupid!

NO JOKE! I once saw the same man on a very public forum bitching about the lack of police presence in his neighborhood to handle those unruly teenage speeders, suddenly change his tune and begin complaining about the piece of shit cop who gave him a ticket for parking the wrong way on his street! His statement was that he was only in the house for a minute so he shouldn’t have gotten a ticket!!!! He was parked the wrong way! It’s not even a grey area, it is against the law!! What the hell is wrong with people??

(Cue heavy thinking) Hmmmm????

And right there, right there and then ladies and gentlemen of the jury it came to me.

Much like the moment I realized Santa Clause was not real, or expiration dates on food are for a reason! The second I fully understood the pull out method was not a viable option for birth control, or the real reason the pretty gal in Vegas “liked” me was not because I was funny or good looking but because she felt there was money involved.

Yes it hit me like a truck, slapping my face harder than the moment you knew your drug dealer was a narc because he had ALL his teeth!

The California Stop is to blame for all our nation’s problems!

You see we now completely live in a vast grey area brought about by the California stop. We have gone from a law abiding society to near anarchy. It began with us slowly accepting the California stop as a way of life. A social identity, and once we did that other aspects of travel law began to fall, and with that we taught our children through our own failures that as long as you don’t get caught it is ok. This of course traversed into other manifestations. You know the mindset, well if he got away with it???

And so on, and so, and so on..

The California stop has ruined all our lives. Go anywhere in the world and they know what the California stop represents and where it originated. It is the bane of our existence, the precursor to all our problems and much as the entire world believes that if you are a Californian you are a surfer, you live within walking distance of the beach (because although long the state is roughly only ½ mile wide) and you are a Democrat. The California stop is of your doing, it is your legacy and the world has every one of us Californians to blame! Don’t worry they are blaming us and hating us for many other things as well so don’t feel too bad.

So please, I beg of you all. Stop at the stop sign. 3 full seconds! If you can do it consistently then maybe like monkeys in a UC test project others will soon follow, mimicking your obvious love for safety, rules and standards. Then before long everyone will be stopping, cars will begin using turn signals again, people will start waving hello to each other as they pass, much like a Sunday drive about of days gone by.

And with just a little luck.

Kids will no longer get trophies for participating in real sports or soccer, parents will start reprimanding their children without fear, safe spaces will no longer be needed, people will have hope, laws will once again be followed creating a brighter future for all and some guy in a Mustang will no longer be known as an A-Hole by some other guy with way to much time on his hands to think about this shit. But instead he will be admired as the owner of a really bitchin car….

Oh fuck, ok I can’t go that far, who I am kidding, he was driving a newer mustang for Christ’s sake! It wasn’t like it was the wholly grail of mustangs the GT500 or a Hertz special, hell he wasn’t even in the ball park of a 67 fastback, Mach 1 or the California Special! Bahahahaha naw he’s still an A-HOLE in a poor man’s Camaro!!!

But hopefully you all get my drift…..

 

 

Advertisements

Driving Ms. Daisy

Today a woman honked at me as she passed by my right hand side to enter the freeway! While doing so she gave me the old high handed Italian salute with the meanest deadlocked eye stare I had seen in quite some time! Now quickly being one to find fault with myself first I rapidly recollected the previous 2-3 minutes she had in fact been latched to my six and whether or not there was any way I had in fact wronged this poor desolate soul. I mean had I finally reached the dreaded old guy status while driving? I am not even eligible for my AARP card yet so the thought of a gray haired man swerving back and forth while traveling at 15 MPH under the speed limit with a Morgan Freeman grin upon my face just didn’t seem to fit the profile for this lead foot driver! I continued to ponder the ramifications of some unjust action cast upon her poor misunderstood self in regards to me having done something egregious?

There was nothing.

In fact the only fault I could find was my ability to stay ever so slightly under the posted speed limit while traveling extra cautiously due to several containers of fuel teetering precariously in the bed of my truck. This of course was due to the absence of ratchet straps (I forgot them) to secure these containers. I also had stopped for a full three seconds at the stop sign (gasp) prior to heading up the overcrossing for which she held no intentions of tapping her brakes judging by the way she moved as though I was towing her through the intersection.

So after carefully deducing the situation it meant apparently she was truly upset because I was in fact fully impeding her day.

How thoughtless of me! How irresponsible was I? I mean shit, I guess the first clue for myself that something was amiss should have been when her Acura symbol was trying to hump the RAM on my tailgate? Not many in such tiny disposable automobiles would ever dare challenge the mighty RAM for fear of self-destruction at the braking foot of an otherwise in desperate need of anger management male driver! Yet here I was doing my best to find Zen, stay centered while breathing carefully and calmly as to not inflame the continuous chest pain I live with on a daily basis. No I instead held strong, ignoring her pushy, NASCAR style bullying undertone! A selfish, grotesque abuse of automobile etiquette I was hoping would not ruin what had been an otherwise superb morning! I tried to think maybe she was having a medical emergency or family disaster which led to her rudeness behind the wheel, or maybe she was going to lose her job because she is late all the time and today was the last straw? Yeah, that could be it, after all it was not my fault she couldn’t get her ass out of bed on time, or maybe ran late because her kids moved like snails (probably also selfish little heathens)! OOOORRRRrrrr it’s simply because she is a hot headed ass who doesn’t like not getting her way on a minute by minute basis so in turn she makes everyone else’s day shit to appease her selfish needs??!!! Yep pretty sure that’s hitting the proverbial nail on the fucking head judging by the California wave I received as she passed on by! Heading onto the freeway where I am positive her negative attitude and poor driving skills probably molested and ruined many others mornings before she exited her 3000lb anger machine to become a two legged devil raining a shit parade upon all who fell beneath her shadow! So, far be it from me to let this one little act of indiscretion on her part ruin my morning, my perfect, once every two or three months, NO KIDS FIGHTING, OUT THE DOOR ON TIME, CHEERFUL GOODBYES AT SCHOOL DROP OFF GOD DAMN FUCKING SUPER AWESOME MORNING!!!! IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!!!!! NOT UP IN HERE!! N O T  U P  I N  H E R E!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Deep Breath)

In hindsight I am sure it’s all Trumps fault…..

Think I’ll Tweet about it.

An American oxymoron…

 

My 13 year old asked me the other day while watching Top Gear, a television show that originated in the UK and has grown to a spin off in the United States.

Dad; what is the difference between a GMC truck and a Chevrolet truck?

Sitting back in my chair, realizing this was a moment where I could lay waste to any positive view he may hold towards these vehicles with a short idiotic tirade, I gathered my thoughts leaned down, put my arm around him and using my best Ward Cleaver laid this little number upon his unsuspecting bewildered eyes.

Ahhhh-hemmmm!

(Clearing my throat, using my best grandpa jones old man inflection)

The difference between them son is symbolic of the widening indifference in our countries mental acuity.  You see when our country was young, led by intelligent, strong willed, dedicated individuals we as a country knew the difference between right or wrong. A child could play in the street without fear, a woman was revered by men, a mom was considered the, be all end all of every child, and your house was your home, not a temporary storage area until you moved again hoping to make an extra buck.  Community meant that everyone cared about their town and participated in its growth.  You didn’t just live there to commute somewhere else without a care in the world about your neighbors or their well being.

The difference clearly rested in a country becoming accepting of all races and religions without prejudice.  Remembering we are all products of family members who immigrated here and just because we are third or fourth generation doesn’t mean we hold some inalienable right over others trying to achieve the same dreams. Yet that is exactly what we continue to do and every race and ethnicity is as guilty as the next when it comes to this process. Our country started with the ability to parent each other’s children without fear of retribution, living under the guise of “it takes a village”.  Education was a number one priority and teachers were revered for success afforded them through flexibility not unattainable federal guidance. Teachers are taught to “have the power” and “Show students the way” yet due to spineless administrators and frivolous lawsuits our children have all the power backed by parents wanting an education for their children but refusing to back any teachers play when it comes to their precious heathens.

Oh yes son the difference is clear as daylight! For you see in this country we have allowed so many to abuse the legal system for so long that a citizen of the United States is now considered guilty until proven innocent. Prisoners have all the rights and citizens have little to no protection from the criminals.  Our police forces have been told to uphold the law using the iron fist of justice, yet the iron fist has been reduced to cheap tin and is now tied behind every officers back leaving them unable to complete any given task or have the appropriate authority to do so.

In god we trust is upon every dollar yet church and state has been cited as a conflict of moral/ethical principal. The difference is right in front of your face son. Hold the door for a woman today and you are oppressing her right to equality, don’t hold the door and you are rude self centered man. Rape and abuse are the center of every television drama, glorified for all to see which seems to be an oxymoron in a civilized society.  The real housewives of any city USA are a ratings boom feeding these women millions of dollars. As American women we should be ashamed of these poor excuses for humans yet we glorify their shallow self centered struggles. Meet any woman who behaves as they do in real life (not reality TV) and she is instantly a trash talked bitch cut from the pack and left to obscurity.

What is the difference? ah yes, everyone gets a trophy when playing sports and no one loses; because if we have all winners that means someone will feel bad about losing, possibly stunting their ability to feel good about themselves in the future.  It also means that no one person will know what it feels like to truly succeed at something through failure, there bye over time eliminating the need to perform and win from our genetic make-up.

Our society is told to go outside and live life daily, these directions come from the confines of a television we paid way too much money for because its quality is so good you actually feel as though you are there, thusly preventing you from actually being outside. The difference is complaining about the rain while sniveling about the sun, whining about the heat while crying about how cold it has become!

The differences are right in front of you, you are bombarded with them every day.   WE (Americans) choose what we believe in as individuals, then we stick to it come hell or high water! Its what makes us great as a society, but its also what may in fact lead to our downfall.

In reality there are no real differences, a tweak here a few horsepower there, but essentially the very same truck. Over the last 100 years “we the people” have become so blinded by the Hollywood glow of some that lead, so ethically corrupted by misled faith, disenchanted with reality, bought off by envy and the American advertising machine that handles everything from a bar of soap to the Presidency, that “we the people” actually believe  there is a tangible difference between a GMC and a Chevy truck.

If you don’t think other countries aren’t laughing at our pig headed stupidity then drive down to your local Honda/Acura-Nissan/Infinity- Toyota/Lexus dealers and see who is having the last laugh at your expense..

Oh yeah, by the way son the GMC truck is waayyyy better than a piece of junk Chevy truck any day! Duh!  Stupid Chevy owners…

 

 

License to drive…

 

Mirrors adjusted? Check! Seat is in the proper position? Check! Steering wheel is placed at the optimal level for a 10 and 2 hand hold? Check! Are you mentally ready to drive today son? To which a death glare is leveled upon my kindly old man face.

And so goes the dilemma a father faces while teaching his 16-year-old to drive. His son frigidly sits behind the wheel; grip tighter than a vise, knuckles Casper white as the truck moves slowly out of the driveway onto our mile long dirt road.  Plenty of room here to screw things up before he merges with the masses of Dario Franchitti’s/ Dale Earnhardt’s vying for position on Americas roadways! 

Now all of this is supposed to be a monumental moment; a point in family history where a father enjoys sharing his knowledge of the road and joy of driving with his son/daughter. Yet all I feel is fear! Now over my storied employment history there have been numerous adults who learned to drive the behemoth 18 wheelers that dot our highway landscape from your truly! Never once did I trickle even the smallest droplet of sweat! I could firmly place my cup of coffee on the dashboard and nary a drop would spill from the styrofoam chalice. Yet with the family prodigy I am as nervous as a death row inmate waiting for a pardoning phone call. 

Maybe my nerves would wear a little softer if my son showed some “drive” (nice play on words huh?) when it comes to this enormous responsibility. But he is so lackadaisical about the whole process it leaves me screaming ugly profanities inside my head! Why? Why is so indifferent? Why does he not seem to care about the outcome? He doesn’t come across as self entitled. He says he truly wants to learn the finer art of motoring. Yet getting him into gear (another fine motoring reference) has been sticky to say the least!

When I was a kid (flashback moment-didiloo,didiloo,didilooooo) life was like this;

Hi everyone my name is little Betty! I am only 13 years old and I love cars! I have models of cars that I built scattered all over my room, wanna see? The Chevelle and 1957 Bel-Air are my favorite cars but I would drive a Chevy truck with a 454, nice wheels, tires, painted blue with ghost flames! Yes sir by golly that is the truck for me! I clean horse stalls and do all sorts of chores saving money up so that one day I can get my license, purchase my truck and drive where ever and whenever I want! Only 23 months, 2 weeks, 4 days, 16 hours and 12 minutes until I get my license! I like to sit in my dads old GMC and pretend I am driving all over town! Every day after school and on the weekends if you want to find me, that’s right where I’ll be! Ahhhh Shucks, I can’t wait to drive!!!

Flash forward-(didiloo, didiloo, didiloooooo)

It’s taking so long to turn 16! Being 15 is a giant pain in the butt! Do you know when I turn 16 I will own the coolest truck in town and be dating girls left and right! Summer is gonna blow if I don’t get my license! Man, cruising around in moms station wagon with my permit is a giant drag! But I’ll let you in on a little secret.  Shhhh come in a little closer so no one else can hear; when my parents are gone I steal the old man’s GMC and cruise all over town! I know cool huh! Yeah its ugly but seriously who cares and who needs to be 16, when you have an all access pass to party time with no license needed! Turn up the tunes, pick up the friends and whoop, whoop, just cruise! As long as I am home before 8, because you know that’s when my parents get back from their Monday night association meeting and my dad would kill me if he found out! Oh yeah, I am soooo cool!

Flash forward a little more (didiloo, didiloo di-oh you get the point)

Yes! I have my license! I have a truck! I have freedom! Life is great! So long suckers, I’m hitting the road, places I need to see, things I need to do and they don’t involve this place! Van Hagar playing loud, windows rolled down so all you “walkers” can partake in some choice music as I roll on by! Owning a car is fantastic! If you have the means I highly recommend it!!

Present day:

I get nothing from the lad! No enthusiasm for driving, cars or trucks, nothing, nothing at all.  Where have I gone wrong? Is this even my child? Spinning donuts in the parking lot, drag racing out on Fry road, cruising downtown Petaluma on a Saturday night with hundreds of other cool cars and trucks! Loud music, screaming, laughing and having a general good time! Isn’t that enough to entice a young lad to give it a go; to want his license more than anything on this God forsaken planet?

What is that you say? Cruising has been deemed against the law? Hanging out with your friends is considered loitering? A custom car with loud pipes and a cool stereo is now disturbing the peace? To even think of working on your own car you need to aquire a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanics. On top of that insurance and gasoline are five times the price they were when I was a kid?

Well hell, it all makes perfect sense now! What incentive does the lad have? Why would he want to drive at all?  Why would he even care? Apparently there is a reason they are called the “good old days”.  Because it was good and now we are old which leaves the youth of today nothing but boring days ahead!

So out of the driveway we go, his hands in the perfect 10 and 2 position, the stereo is on, air conditioner set and he is piloting this barge very well down the road.  I resist the urge to browse Facebook as we roll through the countryside. I am trying to build his self-confidence by acting like I fully trust him while I am slyly paying attention to every little detail of his driving manners.  It still ends up being a moment I will cherish forever.  We drive many miles over several days with small corrections here and there, then finally giving him the freedom to drive comfortably without repercussion he relaxes and settles back into the seat.  Another driver on the road, another human reaching the pinnacle of freedom for their age; He may be ready to take the final test securing his permanent license. It might be time for the sensei to release his student out into the world. We pull the truck over and with a sincere smile along with the adoring eyes of his father I lean in and tell him what a good job he is doing, he slowly looks over with a half cocked smile and says thanks. Still no real excitement on his part…

Maybe we should just scrap the whole idea and find him some public transit?

Feeling broken

 

Where did you go?

Who have you become?

I feel as though I don’t know you anymore. As though a stranger has newly entered my life, yet nothing could be further from the truth. I find myself filled with remorse, anger, compassion and hatred all at the same time.  Realizing I shall no longer defend your outrage. I can no longer bear the brunt of destruction you leave behind. Cleaning up your emotional toil in both cumbersome and tiring. You are like a pebble tossed into a pond.  The original hit was you, then slowly you sink to the bottom for safety, while leaving others to ride the waves, praying they don’t drown, hoping to survive.

What made you this way? The person I remember has always been a little angry, somewhat gruff, yet once alone you were charming, and funny.  Somewhere, somehow you made a conscious decision to change for the worse.  You can continue to place blame, to point crooked fingers, but in the end it rides squarely upon your shoulders.

You claim all is not fair, life is not fair, you bellow that nothing is ever done correctly, and you regale how much better life would be without you.  Then flipping as a switch you are back to normal.  On/off, on/off, the effects fleeting at best, but back to normal none the less.  Your emotions can be felt as the constant ticking of a time bomb.  There is no one left to defuse you.

To this I say; There will be no more sleepless nights worrying about your state of mind. I shall portray that of mediator no more. You shall never yell at someone I love again with out serious repercussion.  I will no longer defend absurdity under the guise of being elder. You have chipped the very last fragment of love from my heart. If you wish to be gone from this world than so be it.  You are gone in my eyes, your soul has left my heart, I am empty when it comes to you.

Feeling broken…….

Maybe you were right after all,  Life is not fair.

Betty’s Words of Wisdom

Compassion! Take a moment to recognize you are not the only person having a hard day. There is always someone having a worse day than you. Have compassion. Carry on that is all…

Every 15 Minutes

Steam rises from the hood as a faint wail can be heard off in the distance.  Sound is muffled, vision distorted he doesn’t understand the images placed before his eyes.  A kaleidoscope of colors passing through a spiderweb prism is all he can associate.  Looking to his right he finds a pair of shoes.  Not just any shoes but the Sketchers he bought his girlfriend for her 16th birthday.  Why? He wonders.  Why are they there on the seat of my car and how are they standing on their toes.  The improbability of shoes standing on their toes is more than his mind can process.  He shakes his head trying to clear the cobwebs but the alcohol in his system wont let it happen.  So he stares at the pink Sketchers in disbelief.  

The pink Sketchers he bought his girlfriend on her 16th birthday are in fact not standing on their toes.  They are still connected to her feet, feet that lead to her legs, legs that stretch through the windshield of his 2004 Nissan where she lay motionless on the hood. Dying.  The girl he loves is dying on the very hood that steam now rises from while a faint wail can be heard in the distance.

She cant seem to make it stop.  She doesn’t remember taking a nap, but now that she has found peaceful slumber she only wishes for what ever is dripping on her face to quit!  She dreams of water or syrup sliding across her eyes.  Swatting at the sticky substance she is not sure whether its real or part of her warm comfortable dream.  Then she feels it, starting out as a low uncomfortable burning, her dream translates it into fire.  Surrounding her, leaving her trapped yet somehow she knows better, fighting resisting the dream. Her eyes finally opened by the rush of adrenaline surging through her system, brought forward by the searing pain across her face. The sticky substance now identified is blood! She screams then screams again, taking in all the air her lungs will allow.  Her seat is covered in blood, the dashboard is covered in blood, her clothes are covered in blood.  Wait a minute; she thinks to herself.  Calm down and relax; is all she can say.  Her dads voice ringing in her ears for all the times she felt panicked and he calmed her down with those four little words.  Honey just “calm down and relax”.  She remembers getting in the car with her friend, they were headed to a friend’s house for a study group..  Wait her friend! He was driving them! She slowly turns to the left and its then her world is changed forever!

She now knows where the blood is from, oh sure some is from the head wound that burns across her scalp.  But the majority is from him.  He lies motionless against the door pillar, color gone from his face, lips barren and dry, a sandy glaze across the whites of his eyes he breathes no more. Still, lifeless, anything but the laughing energetic young man he was a mere 5 minutes ago.  She screams for him to wake, he doesn’t budge.  She slaps his face praying for a reaction! Anything! Anger and fear rip through her as she comes to realize he will never wake up, never move again, the charming, smart, dorky boy she had known since 5th grade was gone forever. She lays against him crying. Not knowing what to do or where to go, she cries.

The faint wail off in the distance is not a wounded animal, it doesn’t come from a piece of machinery or a child who has just been punished it comes from a shadow, a silhouette, an anomaly spread out on the pavement 25 yards away.  It twitches and writhes this anomaly of disproportion.  The top half in a serious battle with the bottom half. A losing battle from what can be gathered at first sight.  This shadow seems to be swimming on pavement, for it surrounded by liquid.  A red lake that ripples with the breeze it appears to be flowing to the lowest level it can reach.  Moving closer we see the shadow, the anomaly is wearing softball gear.  A bat off to the right a cleat off to the left stuck in the center of what appears to be a childs water-color.  Smeared across hot black asphalt lay various shades of red.  She doesn’t know why she is face down and can’t move her lower half.  She doesn’t understand why she is vomiting non stop. She feels a “fight or flight” reaction that she can’t control.  Like a trapped animal she howls, claws and fights against the chains that bind her to this place.  An abdomen that wont flex, a pair of legs grotesquely deformed, rotated and broken, she fights.  She has fought her whole life against those who said she couldn’t.  She has fought her whole life to achieve her small successes in school , at home and on the field of play, now she fights purely for her life.  She cannot move anymore yet she still fights.. 

He has shaken the cobwebs and moved beyond the pink Sketchers.  Trembling with fear he opens the car door and stands up to survey the origin of steam rising off the front of his car.  He cannot believe what lays before his still blurry eyes.  Two vehicles are heavily damaged, the front end on his car is folded up like a piece of paper, his girlfriend lay on the hood. Bleeding. Unconscious. It appears he has struck another car in the driver’s door.  A portion of the drivers head lays split open on the center post of the car.  It appears another occupant, most likely a female is crying and shaking the driver looking for a response.  As he walks around the front of his car, pulling out his cell phone he see’s a bloody pile of clothing fighting against itself on the street off in the distance.  It also appears to be a female and she has a bat, glove and is missing her shoes??

What has he done?  How did this happen?  It was only minutes ago he was at a party, laughing, drinking and having a good time with his girlfriend.  What is he going to tell his parents?  What is he going to tell her parents?  This can’t be happening he is going to college in 6 weeks!  What does this mean for his future?  It was only a couple of drinks right? He tells himself he is fine and there is no way the cops will ever know..

He makes the call to 911…

Every 15 minutes a person is involved in an alcohol related accident.  This is the premise of the Every 15 Minutes program held at high schools across the country prior to Senior Prom and Graduation.  Every 15 Minutes is a two-day program focusing on high school juniors and seniors.  The program challenges them to think about drinking, driving, personal safety and the responsibility of making the right decisions.  The program also focuses on the impact these choices make on family, friends and the community. 

The story I wrote above was about our scenario today April 26th 2012.  It is an re-enactment or compilation of many accidents I have responded to over the years.  For as the Every 15 Minutes program has an impact on the children and their families. Drinking and driving has an impact on all first responders.  The firefighters, the police officers, the ambulance crews and the hospital personnel who fight for your child or family members life.  People who are advocates for their survival.  These are images I carry with me always.  Images I can’t erase or just forget! People whose lives were changed forever from one poorly made decision. I remember them all and share them with you so you will remember to never get behind the wheel of a car after you have been drinking. 

Dont drink and drive. 

 All pictures are of high school actors who volunteered to help raise awareness to teenage drinking and driving. I am very proud to be a part of the Every 15 Minutes program and the lasting effect it has on our participants, their family members and the audience that witnesses the event.

Bettys Words of Wisdom for the Day

Take a moment to make someones day. Hold a door, pick up a dropped object, say please and thank you.  Go that extra mile that leaves someone else smiling as you walk away. No recognition, not because you have too, but because it’s who you are and you know in your heart it will pay forward.

Carry on that is all…

Only five….

 

The room is empty his bed made up. An eerie silence has befallen a house filled with chaos.   Although there are six, one would think an absence would go unnoticed.  That five would be alright?  An empty chair at the table would bring no discernible question. Joy would come from one less to make lunch for, one less to ensure readiness for school, one less to pat on the head say I love you and kiss goodbye as that one passed through the door. One less….. Yes…

One would be wrong.

He brings a smile to my face everyday. I feel he brings smiles to many faces during the day.  He has the same troubles most lads have at eleven.  Staying focused in school, interjecting during adult conversations at the most inappropriate of times, picking fights with his little brother, while idolizing his older one.  He is wicked smart yet chooses to only do what is required when the subject matter doesn’t suit his liking.  But what child doesn’t behave that way? He loves all animals, big and small, and will cry at the drop of a hat upon learning af a harmed creature.  Horses have become his passion as he yearns for every moment he can ride in the ring.  He is big and strong, quiet, and funny, boisterous and obnoxious, yet humble when the moment requires.  I have not met a soul who thinks anything but the highest regards for this young lad.

He is gone on a field trip, away from home since yesterday.  I know not of his specific where about, I cannot speak with him as he has no cell phone.  It is silly when you think about it really. But I never understood how badly I need his presence in my life.  I have become as dependant on him as he remains dependant on me.  I love all my children and feel the same sickening heartbreak when one is not around.  My worry radar is on overload, my sense of protective parenting is on the highest of alerts. I feel as though I am electrified with no way to shut down the power.

How did our parents do it, I wonder?  How did they get through this feeling, like that of a lost appendage?  A hand, gone, a finger missing, my nose cut off to spite my face? It’s all there, holding me hostage until he arrives home safely.  I dislike this feeling immensely!  It doesn’t get easier with the next child as I have just realized.  I really thought it would, yet its only more complex.  How will I behave when I am down to the littlest member of our family.  Will I need a straitjacket for a specified period of time? Xanex and whiskey to dull the pain?  I am not sure, but I know this, I feel as though I just heard another grey hair pop from my skull!

I love you Jake! You are a reminder to me of why I became a parent.  I never felt it was my right to have children, I have always known it as a privilege.  You, your two brothers and one sister, remind me of that everyday.  I challenge myself everyday to do my very best to guide you all to adulthood.  I pray everyday that what ever challenges you face you know to trust that your parents will be there for you.  I pray everyday that these little spots of freedom you encounter during the course of your childhood only strengthen your resolve to return home once you have ventured out into the real world as adults.  For no matter what the reason, no matter what the need the door to your home will always be open for you to return.

Now hurry up and get home so I can hug you!

Who taught you to drive??

RANT ALERT, RANT ALERT, RANT ALERT, RANT ALERT, RANT ALERT

Oh yeah ladies and gentlemen its time for Betty to bust out the pain! Lay down the smack! Bring up the blazingly obvious that all of you notice, bitch and complain about to yourselves but never to anyone else!

Drivers Licence Mayhem

As far as I know if you own a driver’s licence in the great United States of America then it means you passed a test allowing you to hold said licence.  Correct?????  It means that when you decided it was time to obtain these valued credentials you studied, went to drivers education classes, partook in valuable drive time on both freeways and surface streets with a certified instructor? Right????  Last but not least, like the rest of us valid card holding members of the united front of commuters you sweated buckets while a DMV representative sat alongside you, with a clip board in hand, guiding you through a designated course, determining if you had the ability/talent allowing you behind the wheel of your current 3400 pound bucket of rust! Didnt you??

Yet with all that being clearly stated why on earth do you lack the ability to safely merge onto the freeway?  At what point and time in all those hours of behind the wheel training did anyone ever show you how to pull all the way down the on ramp at elementary school zone speeds to then stop, look over your shoulder and pray for an opening you can squeeze into from 0-75 mph? With your Prius! It’s not going to happen! Unless you own a Lamborghini Gallardo and are a very talented driver you are not going to make this move without serious consequences!

Of course it must run in the family because this morning I met your cousin Captain Oblivious!  You know Captain Oblivious don’t you?  Yeah, he’s the one that comes down the on ramp at freeway speed and never looks over his shoulder!  Stereo up loud, hands at the ten and two position, head faced straight forward!  Tractor Trailer? He don’t care! Giant 4×4? Better get out-of-the-way! He coming down that ramp like a skateboard to hell and there’s nothing you can do about it! He figures you will move out of fear!  Apparently he missed the chapter about safely “merging”!  Under the definition of “merge” it must read Merge: to ram large object into small or non-existent space without repercussion. The rest of us missed that chapter of the book but not you Captain Oblivious! Not you!

Of course my rant wouldn’t be complete without a visit from out other traffic family member!  Flat floored Fred!  You see Fred enjoys driving really fast! Fred runs the stops signs with the skill and grace of even the best California stop artist! Fred can’t help himself as he moves between lanes like a skilled race car driver.  Drafting off a Lincoln, cutting the front of a Ford and pushing his way into position at the next stop light all so he gets the jump on you the moment it turns green! But Flat floored Fred has a serious flaw. Dont put him in the fast lane on the freeway!  We have all seen him at his best! He darts down the on ramp at full throttle, smoke billowing from his 1993 Cutlass Supreme! He is coming fast, faster, faster than BAM! Across three lanes like Steve freaking McQueen! That car settles into the fast lane looking strong and stealthy until suddenly the anchor falls out of the trunk! Now Flat floored Fred shows his true side, its 55mph.  Yep he’ll break every intown speed limit all damn day long but get him on the freeway and suddenly we are driving Ms. Daisy!  Heres a hint for Flat floored Fred.  If everyone (and I do mean EVERYONE) is passing you from all three of the right hand lanes.  Get out of the fast lane!!! You are just frustrating everyone! They all want to kill you!  That is defintley not the “your number one” sign they’re flashing you!!!!

And what the heck is up with roundabouts?  These little freaks of roadway nature are nothing more than an excuse for most people to see how fast thier cars can go while drifting!  No kidding! They may work in Europe to ease traffic congestion but here in the states they are just an invitation for the Red Bull Drifting series to have try outs! They are perfect! How many times can I go around this thing sideways, smoking the tires and blocking all others from entering into the circle of trust?  You know whats an even better idea? Place the round abouts right next to high schools!  Yep thats the ticket! Then the teenagers can all pretend to be Tanner Foust! Its pure genious!

Man I feel better! Its true purging is good for the soul!

Now piss off all of you before large 4×4 guy with dents in his truck loses his temper and shows you the bumper of the Betty mobile!