Friday, September 12, 2008

Welcome to the Human Race

Getting ready for Hurricane Ike has been a test for us here in Houston. Over the years we’ve heard the warnings which accompany each and every tropical storm headed in our direction. Not so long ago there was Gustav which got our attention but turned and left us alone. Before that we had Rita which tore up the Beaumont / Port Arthur area pretty good leaving plenty of downed trees and power lines to clean up; but spared the Houston area, another warning with nothing to show for it.

I’ve been watching Ike as it inches ever closer and has the potential of destroying lives and property as the Gulf waters are pushed toward shore. There’s an estimated “catastrophic” surge projected along that stretch of land on either side of Galveston which would include the Port of Houston and the low lying areas adjacent to it.

Mandatory evacuations were posted for nearly every zip code within the area threatened by the storm surge; however, from the reports on the news channels, about half the residents have decided to ignore the warnings and are going to become “statistics” and clog up the storm sewers with more bodies than I care to think about. Just how stupid do you have to be, not that stupid; you just have to be part of the human race.

Speaking of the human condition; Lucy got a request to go down to help a fellow Ham radio operator set up and program his unit a while ago. Lucy has the knowledge and willingness to be of service and didn’t give it a thought so I helped her carry some stuff to the car. By the way, the sun is shining and there’s hardly a hint of pending doom from what I see around here.

About ten minutes after Lucy left she called in a panic asking me to check around for her portable Ham radio which she accidentally left on the roof of the car. She thought of it as she got to a major street and got that sinking feeling; the kind you get when you’re a hundred miles from home on vacation and ask yourself if you turned off the stove.

I checked all along the drive way where it might have fallen, the curb line along the path she took all the way down around the curve and to the stop sign a quarter of a mile away; nothing. I drove my truck along the same path asking neighbors to keep an eye out for it. I even joked with my neighbor across the street as he helped scour the area with me, “Bob, if you want to have some fun at Lucy’s expense; bearing in mind you might get shot, take a small piece of two by four, paint it black and stick a piece of coat hanger on the end of it. Knock on the door later today and ask, ‘Is this what you’re looking for’.” Bob gave me one of those looks, like “I may look stupid; but not THAT stupid”, and decided it wouldn’t be such a good thing to do.

I again looked under the few vehicles parked on the street and in the bushes where the street curves around; nothing. I pretty much gave up on the idea of finding the Ham radio; somebody must have already picked it up and headed off to the pawn shop thinking it must be worth a few bucks. I called Lucy to tell her the bad news and knew how low that made her feel; not that I’ve ever misplaced something and panicked while trying to find it.

I sat back on the sofa and picked up on the “paused” movie I’d been watching, “Final Countdown”, about a strange storm that swallows up a modern day aircraft carrier and transports it back to December 6th of 1941 just off the coast of Hawaii. A thought came to me, more like a “still small voice” if you get my drift; “Go back out there, this time go a little farther and you will find the radio”. I’ve heard those promptings in the past; once or twice it may have saved my life when I was working as a night shift police officer.

This was a little like the, “If you build it he will come”, “Ease his pain” or “Go the distance”, like in the movie where Kevin Costner plows up a perfectly good corn field and builds the “Field of Dreams”. The impression was clear as was a gentle prompting that needed to be acted upon so I put the movie on pause, again, and got back in my truck.

I drove along the same route only this time I past the larger intersection at T. C. Jester where I know Lucy hardly ever comes to a complete stop; doing what I call a shuffle as opposed to a legal complete stop. I figured that the extra momentum combined with her giving the car a little more gas at the apex of the turn might be just enough to cause a Ham radio perched on top of her car to become dislodged and slung onto the yard of the corner house on the opposite side of the street; I figured this all out on my own, yea right.

I glanced at the shrubbery that lined the walk way leading to the corner house and sure enough there was a little black box which had bounced off the edge of the street and suspended itself in the bottom branches of a bush. There was only a small scuff mark on the edge where the concrete put an ugly spot; other than that the radio works fine.

I called Lucy and let her know that the radio had been found, that she could take a deep breath and relax now. The cost of the radio was nothing compared to the knowledge that Lucy was relieved from having lost it. For those of you wondering about how the Spirit works; consider this part of the learning curve for the human race, all you have to do is listen and then act upon the promptings.

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