Saturday, June 30, 2012

Here's Your Medicine... Psyche! - Part II

Okay -- it's Saturday, and I'm a day late with my weekly blog. My apologies, but I've been a little busy -- I've been working with the editor of an anthology I'm going to have a story in that's coming out at the end of July. It's a paying market, and this particular book is also featuring a story by Joe Hill.

Joe Hill, for those of you who don't know, is an award-wining well as Stephen King's son. I'm going to have a story in a book alongside Stephen King's son... I know it's silly, but I get all stupid and giddy just thinking about it. Sue me.

I've also been dealing with the subject of today's blog, so I'll just apologize for my tardiness (there's only one person out there who may have actually noticed, really) and step aside so you can read on.

So, read on!

So... it's in the high 80's here, creeping into the 90's occasionally. Last week there were a couple of very sweet days where it was 97 and 99 degrees. For those of us who lack the ability to sweat, and thus thermoregulate like a normal person, these were days to slow down, take a break (and maybe a cool shower or bath) and chill. (For an explaination of that, please see my post titled "No Sweat, No Problem... Not Really!")

Now, a month ago I did start a treatment that's helped me to sweat in the past, although it hasn't had a whole  lot of success this time around. Parts of my face and the side of my neck have begun to sweat slightly, what is usually termed 'emotional sweating', as it does little to regulate the body's temperature. Any progress is encouraging, though, so I'm trying to schedule a second treatment to maybe push this thing over the edge into some sort of remission. The problem is the medicine.

It's a two-part treatment that I'm trying to set up. I go in to the doctor's office for three days in a row, and each day I get what I like to call my 'Big Bag O' Steroids', where each day I get enough steroids pumped into me to last a juice-head weightlifter a month. Three months worth in three days.

Say goodbye to sleep.

Now, after flooding my bloodstream with this massive dose of chemicals it would be cruel of me to just cut off my body's supply of 'roids -- not to mention dangerous. So the second part of the process is a three-week course of oral prednisone, gradually lessening the dose, weaning me back off the steroids.

Now as far as I can tell, it was this or just plugging in an ancient Sweatin' to the Oldies tape I happen to have lying around. Put that baby on a loop and one of  two things is going to happen: Either I'm going to start sweating, or I'll laugh myself to death within three days.

Don't get me wrong, I love Richard Simmons, and I have serious respect for the help he has given people over the years... but if you put him in those little shorts, with that headband holding back his white-man-fro, and set him to dancing about in front of a class filled with women and I can't help but laugh.

Now, the key to all this fun and excitement is to actually have both parts of my treatment in hand when I walk through the door at the doctor's office. I have had a little difficulty in doing that in the past, (for details, please see my post titled "Here's Your Medicine... Psyche!") so now I know to wait until I have everything before I even try to schedule the appointments. It was with all this in mind that I called my doctor's office looking to talk to either her or her officer manager and get a prescription called in to the pharmacy I use. I left a message with their receptionist detailing my request for a new prescription, and why, and waited for a call back from my doctor.

When the call came I was surprised at the rapidity of the response -- it was only about 30 minutes after I left the message. I was even more surprised when it turned out to not be my doctor calling, but a woman from a local CVS (an Eastern pharmacy chain much like a Rite-Aid). She was confirming one of the prescriptions with me, the one for methylprednisolone, my intravenous steroid of choice. It's not something they usually stock on their shelves, so she wanted to let me know it wasn't going to be available for a day or so, special order, etc.

I told her I understood, and that I'd not be looking for it until the next day at the very least, and asked which CVS she was calling from. It was one in the city of Salem, and I usually use one in the town of Danvers. I made mention of this, and she offered to transfer the prescription over to Danvers, no problem. I was impressed by the call, and started thinking that maybe this time getting hold of my meds would go off without a hitch... but then it started.

Me: "Just to make sure -- is there another prescription there for me, one for oral prednisone? If so I'll need that one transferred as well."

Her: "Just a minute... no... no... no, I don't see another prescription for you in the system."

My internal voice: "Great... here we go again. But wait, I only talked to my doc's receptionist like 30 minutes ago. It'll probably show up in a while."

Me: "It'll probably show up. I'll look for it tomorrow when I check on the methylprednisolone. Thank you for all your help!"

And that was that. The next day I stopped by my favorite CVS and went to the pharmacy counter. They had my methylprednisolone... and that was it. No oral prednisone to keep my body from completely freaking out from stopping the steroids cold-turkey. Pharmacy Dude (he was about 22-23, so I'll call him Dude) checked the system.

Pharmacy Dude: "I'm sorry, but I don't see anything else for you in the system anywhere."

My Internal Voice: "Of course you don't. Why would you? You're just Pharmacy Dude.  I'll have to call the doctor's office again and get this straightened out."

Me: "No worries, I'll just call my doctor in the morning and see about that other part. Thank you for your help!"

So the next day, which turned out to be yesterday, I called the doctor's office again. I was on hold for fifteen minutes, and then told the receptionist that I needed to talk to my doctor about getting a prescription. 

Receptionist: "I'll transfer you right away."

Me: "Thank you."

The transfer was made to their automated "Refill" line, for people simply looking to get a prescription refilled. I, however, am looking to get a completely new prescription issued, so I hung up and called back again. And was put on hold for fifteen minutes. Again. And got through to the receptionist. Again. This time, however, I explained the problem more fully, and was promised a call back from the doctor or her office manager.

Office Manager: "I'm sorry, I didn't know you needed both of those filled. I'll send that out to the CVS in... Danvers, right?"

My Internal Voice: "Seriously? This is more than a half-dozen times I've had this procedure now, and every other time I've had to have both parts of the medication. So why, in the name of God, would I suddenly only need half of the medication for the procedure? Hello? Is there anybody in there?"

Me: "Yes, Danvers. I'll pick it up after work then. Thank you for your help."

That night I stopped by the CVS in Danvers. I stood in line for a while as a man who was apparently not carrying enough cash to pay for the twelve different prescriptions he was trying to pick up went through them again and again, and again, as he tried to figure out which ones he actually needed to get through the night. After watching him twitch and fidget and move the same two bags back and forth between the 'can't do without' pile and the 'this crap can wait' pile, a half dozen times, each time saying he "definitely, definitely needed", or "definitely, definitely didn't need" each one, I zoned out in the line with the movie Rainman playing through my head.

It's still there. Dustin Hoffman saying he's definitely not wearing any underwear.

Thank you, thank you so much, crazy stranger in line.

Finally it was my turn. I gave my name, and the nice lady (Pharmacy Dude must have had the night off) rummaged through the trays of prescriptions awaiting pick-up.

Then she rummaged again.

When she began rummaging a third time, I sighed. Then I figured I might as well kill two birds with one stone and turned the sigh in to the beginning of a deep-breathing exercise. When she checked the computer before coming back to the counter empty-handed, my Internal Voice was said the line right along with her.

Pharmacist: "I'm sorry sir, but we don't have anything for you here, and there's no orders for you showing in the system."

I closed my eyes and continued breathing. I was calm and serene.

On the outside.

My Internal Voice: "Mother ******!! Are you ****ing kidding me? It's a God-**** good thing I'm not looking for something that's keeping me alive or anything here, or I'd be sprawled out on your counter with you saying 'Sir? Sir? Are you alright?' in that stupid ****ing cow voice coming out of your stupid ****ing cow face! Or something to keep me stable, like Twitchy Mc-Pill-Popper over there! You could be the one sprawled out on the counter! You know what? That might not be a bad id --"

Pharmacist: "Sir? Are you alright?"

I took one more breath, opened my eyes and smiled.

Me: "Yes. I'm fine. Just telling my internal voice that violence is not the answer."

She got a little wild-eyed at that.

Pharmacist: "Excuse me?"

Me: "Already done. So, there's nothing in the system?"

She moved cautiously away from me to check the computer once more. She took her time about it, was a little more in-depth about it, possibly due to the smile I was wearing on my face. My teeth felt a size too big, while my lips felt a size too small, and it felt a little odd. I'm sure it didn't look right, though I meant it to be reassuring.

Pharmacist: "I found it! It wasn't in the system as 'live' because it's already been filled and is waiting for pick-up... but it's in Salem, not here. Would you like me to have it sent over here? It'll be here by tomorrow..."

My Internal Voice:  - nothing that can be printed here, honestly.

Me: "No. Thank you. I'll pick it up there tomorrow. Please, don't even let it know I'm coming -- I don't want it to spook and run."

Pharmacist: "Excuse me?"

Me: "Already done. Okay, we're done here, right? Okay... Thank you for your help."

So today I picked up the second half of the medication required for me to get the treatment I'm going for. I'll call on Monday and schedule the appointments for the infusion. And on Monday, when I get to work and Boss asks me what's taking so long for me to start these treatments that will let him get back to working me to death in the heat, I'll slap a printout of this blog down on his desk and walk away.

But not far.

I want to watch him read it.

Especially this part.

Hi Boss!

Talk to you later!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rocking and Rolling

People sometimes wonder aloud at the way Postal Rates are increasing in this country. I’ve had some people ask me what we’re doing with the money, what we need it for. They ask me like I’m ‘in the know’, or that I have some special knowledge that they lack simply because I work for the company they’re wondering about.

That’s not how it works.

They don’t come to me with ideas or information. Not the big guys in Washington, nor the little guys who (at least in theory) run my office. As a matter of fact, if I were to go about asking questions I’d not get as far as you, John Q. Public, would get making similar inquiries for the simple reason that they can tell me to go away, ignore me or just walk away themselves, etc. You, on the other hand, could insist on an answer. You might not get one, but you’d probably get further up the chain of command than I would…

I’ll explain how they handle things when I’m the one coming to them for help, with my ‘in the know’, working for the company. One day, a couple of weeks ago, the door to my mail truck broke. The door handle, as you can see, consists of a shaft that runs straight through the door with a handle on each side of the door allowing you to twist that shaft and operate the door latch. The handle on the outside points upward from the shaft, and on the inside it points down. The handles are held to the shaft by means of small metal pins that run through either side of the handle and into a hole running through the shaft itself. If you look closely, you can see the end of the pin sticking out of the handle in the picture.

Now, the reason I know about the pins sticking through the handle and the hole drilled though the shaft is that my inner door handle fell off. Not broke off, or snapped off, but simply fell off while I was driving, landing deep down in the door well next to my seat. I pulled over and stared at the protruding shaft, just a small square steel peg poking out of my door, and wondered how I was going to get out. Rather than wrestling with the little thing, trying to get a bare-handed grip on it and maybe hurting myself in the process, I just cranked down the window and opened the door from the outside. There was my inner door handle, lying in the door well.


So I brought the handle into the Post Office and wrote up a vehicle repair tag. Under the ‘Complaint’ section, I checked off the boxes saying something was ‘broken’ and ‘missing’— I figured that covered it no matter how you looked at it. In the larger box where they ask for further explanation of the required repairs, I wrote “See attached”, scotch taped the tag to the handle and left it on my supervisor’s desk.

I know the custodian was working on the door for a while, on the same evening I had turned in the broken handle in fact. Then, in the morning they gave me a different vehicle. I had the new truck for two days… then I got my old one back.

The inner door handle was there, but loose. I could hear it jiggling in place as I drove down the road, wiggling itself loosely on the square shaft. I nodded, said It figures to myself, and got on with my day.
Well, most of my day. Almost half. Half-way through my route was when the handle fell off again. I sighed, pulled over and cranked the window down so I could reach out, open the damn door and fish the handle out of the door well again. That was when I really noticed the rock.

Now I’d seen the rock as I’d been using the truck, but taken no real notice of it. Half the size of a brick, sort of squarish, the rock had been tucked into the back corner of the door well all day. It was too big and flat to roll around, and since the door well is padded at the bottom it wasn’t like it was going to slide. I’d seen it down there, sort of unconsciously come to the conclusion that whomever had been using the truck for the past two days must have put it in there for some reason, and left it alone. If they wanted it, they’d come back for it, right? Besides, it wasn’t like it was in my way or anything.

But as I leaned down to retrieve my door handle, the rock caught my eye once more. I looked at the rock. I looked at the handle in my hand, and the one lonely pin, sticking so far out of the side, the pin that had been worked further and further out of its seated position by the wiggling and jiggling of the handle during the day. I slid the handle onto the shaft, lined up the remaining pin with the hole through the shaft, scooped up the rock… and hammered the pin home with it.

Ah… now I understood.

I’m no maintenance man, I’m just a home-owner who’s had to be a little ‘creative’ when making repairs on occasion, but even I wouldn’t have through of a rock!

What I might have thought of:

  • Running to the hardware store for a long, thin bolt with a matching nut. I know they have them.
  • Running to the hardware store for a stiff wire to run through the handle - or failing that, snipping off a short length of wire clothes hanger - to use as a replacement pin
  • Running to the hardware store for a cotter pin.
  • Actually going through the proper channels to get a hold of actual door handle pins to replace the worn ones.

Sorry… this is all off the top of my head. But did you notice that not once in that quick list did I mention a rock? You see that? That’s why I’m staying at the bottom of the food chain in this company. That's why I require watching, and guidance. My inability to think outside the rock.

Box. I meant box, sorry.

So, when my customers ask me why the price of stamps is going up, and they question certain expenses the P.O. Makes, I have my answer.

If they want to know who the hell is paying the team of people who occasionally just spend the week walking behind me while I’m under inspection, or why we have the added expense of scanable bar codes being posted at certain points along our routes so we can ‘check in’ like old-fashioned night watchmen (do they really think if we weren’t making our rounds no one would notice?), or did they really need to pay to outfit so many of the mail trucks with GPS units so they can track our movements throughout the day (yeah, I have one of those…) or why the USPS is spending millions of dollars each year renting buildings we don’t even use (See here)…

…well, I can hold my head up with pride, and say:

“Don’t look at me, I’m doing my part! I’m saving them the cost of a bolt! That’s got to be… what… six whole cents?” 

And I can hold up my rock with pride.

Talk to you later!

Friday, June 15, 2012

My Very Own SA

So there I was at Logan International Airport. I've been here before, I know what to expect, right?
I'm going to have some minor hassle at Security. You know it, I know it, we all know it. The only suspense lies in where the hassle will come from, what form it will take, yes?

Listen close while I tell you a story...

I approached the Security checkpoint as ready as I could ever be. My shoes were loose already, my belt not even about my waist, but stowed in one of my carry-ons.  When it was my turn to partially disrobe and shuffle sockily through their selection of scanning machines I slapped down three trays: one for the laptop, one for the Nook , glasses, wallet and phone, one for the shoes, gum and change. All spread out nicely, ready for a look-see. I put my two carry-ons on the belt behind my trays, one my computer bag, the other with clothes, and I fed the whole bunch carefully into the machine.

That done I stepped to where I was to pass through a machine. They had the metal detector roped off for the moment and were relying strictly upon the bio-scan device. For those of you who may not know, you step into the bio-scanner and take a stance, feet apart, hands up and over your head, and it scans your whole body. You can't have anything but your clothes when you go through, not even paper. In fact, there is a Security Agent stationed right by the machine who's job is to ask people again and again "Do you have anything in your pockets or on your person? Please remove all items, no metal or paper, from your person."

Obviously a job requiring crackerjack training.

Now, my stuff was passing through he x-ray machine with nary a hold up, but I had to wait for the gentleman in front of me to pass the bioscan. As I watched, the Security Agent asked her questions, and the man, in an obvious hurry, denied having any metal or paper on his person and stepped into the machine. As he threw his hands above his head, a flash of light caught my eye.

A wristwatch, with a nice leather band and a big shiny metal-rimmed face, was on his wrist. Some might say gaudy. Some might say "why the hell does that guy have what looks like an alarm clock strapped to his wrist?" Eagle-eyes the Security Agent simply said "Hold still, sir."

Terrific, I thought. This guy's going to hold us all up because there's no way that huge example of horological engineering is going to make it through this machine.

That's when I noticed the bulge in his back pocket and realized that our hero had also failed to divest himself of his wallet. Papers, plastic, even magnetic strip cards were probably in there.

I sighed and thought, Well, at least I'm not the show this time, and settled back to watch, waiting with some satisfaction for the Security team to descend upon him en masse  for being unable to follow the rules. I found myself somewhat looking forward to seeing him wanded, patted down, possibly even hustled off to that small room filled with the smells of fear, sweat and lubricating chemicals that I've heard tell about. Maybe I'd have time to make popcorn...

"You're clear," the Agent said to the man, and he hustled forward to grab his bag and shoes from the safe side of the machines. She waved me along, completely ignoring my open-mouthed stare.

"You're next sir."

I shook my head, amazed at what I'd seen, and stepped into the bioscanner. I took my stance and waited 3-4 seconds, during which I contemplated how Rod Stewart had it right:  some guys have all the luck. I had just about gotten to the point where that song would have been trapped in my head when I was waved through. I started for my belongings, now waiting for me on the safe side of the checkpoint, when a large TSA uniform stepped into my path.  Inside it was a large TSA Agent, hands upraised slightly to form a barrier, physically blocking me from leaving.

"Just a minute, sir."

It was not a request. I waited. The burly Agent spoke into his collar microphone, though from what I could tell he was talking to one of the Agents manning the Bioscanner screens not ten feet away, reminding me of two small children with a new pair of toy walkie-talkies having a conversation via radio from either side of a couch.

Come on, we've all done it.

My ears perked up a bit when I heard the words, "I have that white male you flagged."

Flagged? What? Flagged from what? I turned to look at the Agents running the machines, but they all stared busily at their screens, and I couldn't tell who my Agent was talking to.

"You flagged a white male. I have him here. What am I... ?"

He trailed of, listening to my unseen accuser. I was looking from  him to the machines and back, trying to decipher what was going on. My Agent listened, then looked me over. Listened again. Looked again. I have to admit I was looking him over as well: while he was almost exactly not my type, that word 'flagged' was giving me horrible visions of myself being dragged off to the very small, shame-filled room I had so recently been hoping my fellow traveler to be destined for. I was looking at my Security Agent with something quite specific in mind, and I wasn't liking what I was seeing.

Jesus, look at his hands, they're huge! My God, look at the size of those fingers!

I recalled the next line in that Rod Stewart song, and  felt slightly faint. Some guys have all the pain...

Now, while this was going on the line for the bioscanner was building up behind me and more and more luggage was being pushed through the x-ray machine. With no one being allowed through the bioscanner there was no one to claim the luggage, and it filled the slide on the 'safe' side. Then overfilled it. The luggage was backing all the way up through the machine, and still the conveyor belt kept conveying. My luggage and three trays were stacked at the base of the slide, being pushed into the stopper at the end with more and more force.

I wanted to go fetch my stuff, or at least have someone else, possibly a Security Agent, pull my stuff out of the way before something happened. When I looked back to the big guard who was holding me, intending to draw his attention to the potential problem, two things happened almost simultaneously.

The first thing was that my three trays finally gave in to the pressure being exerted upon them by the luggage being shoved into them by the constantly pushing conveyor belt. I had lined them all up, squaring them off nicely so they were exactly edge to edge to edge. They are only plastic trays, however, and the belt that moves goods through those X-ray machines is pretty heavy-duty. Under the constant and increasing pressure, my middle tray buckled. The leading edge of the rear tray slipped beneath that middle tray and flipped it up, pinning it to the tray in front of it. This had the effect of catapulting my goods, Nook, wallet, phone and glasses, out of their tray and into the air.


The Nook, I was happy to eventually find, didn't make it to the floor but landed in the tray in front of it, as did my wallet, both sprawling on top of my laptop. The glasses and phone, however, sailed right over the end of the slide to clatter to the floor, where they were promptly and completely ignored by the Security Agent standing nearby.


The second thing to happen, pretty much just as my belongings were becoming part of some physics/aerodynamics experiment, was that I saw exactly where my own personal Security Agent was looking. He was looking at whomever he was talking to on the radio, and then at my wrists. Over at his associate, and then at my wrists.

My wrists.

That's when it hit me that the big so-and-so was checking me for a watch! A watch, just like the one I had noticed, with no Security training whatsoever, on the wrist of the white male who had passed through the machine ahead of me!

So, while the guy who ignored the rules, fairly openly, I might add, breezed through security to simply grab his stuff and run off, I was stuck standing there for a few minutes, holding up the line and having my belongings flung to the floor because this SA couldn't seem to comprehend that I did not have a watch! If I wound up being hustled into that small 'examination' room over this I was really going to be sore!

Whoops! Poor choice of words, that.


Just as I realized this, my very own SA waved me on with a sigh and a disappointed-sounding "You can go." Rather than explaining that the problem, the security breach, the theoretical potential terrorist was the guy ahead of me, I hustled over to try to get my stuff out of the way before something else went flying, or to at least pick my glasses off the floor before someone stepped on them. I wanted out of there before someone tried to sneak something dangerous through for Fate to try to pin on me.

Glasses on and phone in pocket, I started to hurriedly shove my stuff together in an effort to get it all off the slide and stop jamming up everyone else's things. I was just getting started when a woman of about 60-65 years of age stalked up next to me. She grabbed her bag off the belt behind my pile of stuff, snatched a pair of flip-flops from a tray, gave me the dirtiest look I've received in quite a while, then shook her head with a disgusted sigh. She turned around and stalked away, back stiff, not even bothering to put on her flip-flops or put away her tray.

I gathered my stuff up awkwardly and made my way to a nearby bench, thinking the same thing I always seem to think while going through airport security.

Why me?

Talk to you later!

Friday, June 8, 2012

It's 4:00 In The Morning

I took a little trip to Colorado this weekend, as a matter of fact I'm writing and posting this from there right now. My flight here left Logan International in Boston at 5:45 a.m. on Thursday morning. My mother was my ride to the airport, and I, as always, thank her for that.

The thing is, since the flight left at 5:45 we were trying to leave by about 4 a.m. Since I usually get up at 5:00, that didn't seem a problem until I stayed up late getting ready. Printing stories to edit on the plane, last minute packing, etc, I managed to get to bed a little after 2:00 a.m. I had the bags packed, computer stowed, and when I finally lay down I was already dressed to go. I set the alarm for 4:00 and took about an hour and three-quarter nap.

I slept hard for that hour and forty five minutes.

Then I woke up.

Now, I'm quite tuned to my alarm clock. I absolutely hate the sound it gives off, and that seems to work in my favor: I can not sleep through it. As a matter of fact, the speaker built into the clock gives a little vacuous hiss for about one second as it powers up right before the terrible sound starts. It's comparable to the difference between an open and dead phone line - you can't really hear anything, but you know the call is still live. I'm so tuned in to the dreadful alarm sound I'll frequently wake up at the hiss, and be already reaching for the clock by the time the alarm actually starts.

This time, though, I missed the hiss. It may have been that I fell asleep with my MP3 player on - I'd used the 'sleep' function so it was no longer actually on, but I did have something in one of my ears. Ear bud or not, the alarm sounded and cut through my sleep like a knife, and my eyes popped open.

My mother's face was about eighteen inches away from mine.

I found out later that she had been calling me since about 3:30 a.m., when she got up. She'd called me from out in the hall. She'd knocked on my door. Repeatedly. She'd eventually opened the door and flipped on the light.

There I lay, flat on my back, sound asleep. She called me once or twice from the open door, then noticed the wire running up my chest and to one ear. Figuring I was deafened by tunes, she came over to shake me awake. As she reached down toward me, the alarm went off.

So I was sleeping pretty hard all that time, dead to the world one might say. Then came that knife of an alarm, slashing through sleep and prodding me forcibly awake. Jolted from that deep a sleep with such force to find someone lurking right above me, I did the most natural thing in the world.

I screamed.

There was a general flailing of limbs going on, my legs really going to town as they tried to disentangle themselves from the light blanket I was using, probably with the though tin mind of running to Colorado, but it was the scream that stands out in my mind. I was there. I heard it. I still don't believe it.

It was high. And piercing. High and piercing. So high and piercing that any self-respecting five-year-old girl would have, upon witnessing my thin shriek, been practically forced to tell me to 'man up'.

I heard the sound and tried to grab it back, tried to force it back into my mouth with both hands, but all I managed to do was cover my face with my palms and shout "Holy @#$%!!"

I shouted it twice.

When I was done shouting, and very done screaming like some pathetic toddler's younger sister, I uncovered my face to find my mother still there, practically unmoved. The surprise of me suddenly springing to life and screaming in her face had, compared to my own actions, embarrassingly little effect. She simply backed up about six inches to avoid my flailing arc and waited for me to shut up. Once I uncovered my face she calmly leaned in to within a foot of my face.

"It's 4:00. We have to go."

She turned around and left the room as I lay there dealing with heart palpitations. And laughing at the sound that had just come out of my mouth. I'm still laughing about it whenever I think of it.

I just can't help it. It was that bad.

And that was how my day started. 

Next, I think I'll tell you about the airport.

Always an adventure, the airport.

Talk to you later!

Friday, June 1, 2012

A License to Carry

A while ago I needed to have a suit pressed. In a hurry. I may have mentioned before that I’m a bit of a procrastinator, and it hasn’t really gotten any better. So when I went to the cleaner on a Friday afternoon, I was looking to have the suit back and pressed by Saturday morning.
I explained to the man that I didn’t need the suit cleaned, simply pressed. Really just the jacket, actually.
Him: “Monday.”
Me: “Monday?”
Him: “Monday.”
So I was out in the parking lot putting the wrinkly suit back in my Jeep when a man approached me from the street. He’d been driving past, and stopped to hop out of his car and flag me down.
“Hey! Can I ask you a question?”
I did the old look-over-the-shoulder move, wondering if this stranger was really talking to me. I didn’t see any other likely suspects — I didn’t see any other suspects at all.
“Sure,” I said. “What’s up?”
“I’m moving here from New Hampshire, okay, and I have a permit to carry a gun up there.”
Terrific, I thought. Confronted by a probably armed stranger, and I decide to play Mr. Friendly.
“Okay,” I said, cautiously.
“Well, I was wondering how to go about getting a permit to carry concealed down here. Can you tell me where to go and how to go about it? I’d really appreciate it.”
Wow, I thought. Either this guy knows I’m a postal worker and he thinks I’m right on the edge, or I just look like a guy who carries a gun. Wait… what the hell does a gun-carrying guy even look like? Or is it simply that everyone in New Hampshire carries guns, so it’s expected? Why don’t I know about this?
“Uh,” I said, not wanting to antagonize this possibly gun-toting whack-job of a new Massachusetts resident, “I’m sorry, but I really have no idea.”
His face, which was, honestly, quite open and friendly looking, with a big smile, fell like a thing that really falls when it falls (I was trying to come up with something clever there, but looky-looky, I came up dry).
“Seriously?” he said. “I would have thought that you, especially, would know…”
What kind if a nut-bag, I wondered, just walks up to people and assumes they are carrying a concealed weapon? Well obviously the kind who is armed and ready to respond in kind. I tensed, wondering just what caliber his disappointment was about to take place in. I said the first thing that came to mind, trying with all my might to sound cool about it, and not like I was a hair away from begging not to be shot on the street for being unhelpful.
“Yes, I’m sorry, but I have no idea about permits and stuff. I mean, I don’t even own a gun…”
“You’re kidding!”
He looked incredulous and took a step toward me. I had already tensed, so my only options were to tense even further, or simply relax entirely and play dead right there on the macadam. I chose to tense further, reasoning that if I were to relax too much at that point I wasn’t going to get out of this situation with clean, dry pants.
As he stepped closer I was anticipating him saying something like “Well, they look like this,” or maybe “Here, this is what I’m talking about,” as he put me face-to-face with the weapon in question. Instead, he popped up on tip-toes and took a better look at my hat.
“Oh!” He sounded startled, and had made no obvious moves toward a weapon. I considered un-tensing a bit, but opted to stay tight. No reason to risk the pants now.
“I’m sorry,” he said, backing up a step and holding up his hands in a conciliatory gesture. “I saw your hat and thought you were a State Police Officer. Wow… this must have seemed weird.” He gave a laugh. “I’m sorry about that!”
I took off my cap and looked at the front, at the North American Fishing Association Lifetime Membership patch on the front.
“No,” I lied as I put the hat back on. “Not strange at all. It happens all the time.”
I got in my car, he got in his, and we went our separate ways, he looking for gun-toting advice, me speeding toward a toilet so I could relax safely.
So, what do you think my next stop with the hat should be? Attempted traffic stop of the next guy I see driving like an idiot? Think it might work?

Yeah. Me neither. One migrating idiot doth not the cool traffic-stop story make.

Talk to you later!

P.S. - Happily, I made it to a toilet with no more surprises. Though it was a close one!