Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tales of a Sandbagger.

I hurt.

There. I said it.

The thing is, when I started this whole process I was strong.

Nearly invincible, really.

I was pitching sand with that shovel like a sugar-crazed kid in a playground sandbox. (Well, I was out-shoveling the old guys, at least.)

And food?! Nonsense! I scoffed at the need to eat! I'd plow through my shift simply hydrating with water. By the end of the day all I could think about was getting out there and doing it again the next day.

Then the next day came.

Or I should say, the middle-of-the-night came. And a strong sensation of soreness penetrated my brain simply because I moved my fingers.

My fingers?! I was suddenly struck with fear.

If my fingers hurt this badly, what will I feel if I try to move my whole body out of this bed?

Sure enough. When morning came, it wasn't an easy transition to an upright position. But I popped some ibuprofen and committed to venturing out for another day of sandbagging.

I moved much slower this time. And lunch and snack breaks were a welcomed reprieve.

The 40 mph wind gusts whipped sand in my eyes. The cool morning air on my exposed neck left a miserable chill. Every lift of the shovel loaded with rain-soaked sand sent sharp pains through my lower back.

Unlike the previous day, I was not thinking about what more I could do...I was thinking about how surely someone could make this process easier. Like, what about making a machine that spits out sand into bags on an assembly line - kind of like in a candy factory? All we have to do is grab the bags as they roll off the conveyor belt! Easy as pie! Literally!

I know they have those fancy spider machines, but today it wasn't even all that feasible to use them due to the strong winds. It just blew sand around. Besides, those machines still require a lot of people to grab the sand as it falls.

I couldn't help think that in 50 years when our kids are doing this again for some freakish flood, the old geezers like me will be saying, "Remember back when we had to shovel the dirt into the bags by hand? And they needed hundreds of volunteers? Now they can get the same work done in a quarter of the time with a quarter of the people!"

Hey, when you're tired, sore, and freezing...your mind takes some travels. It's probably therapeutic.

But just when I felt like I couldn't fill even one more bag...I'd look up from my work and see...

...the mountain of sand they're expecting us to get into bags in the next 48 hours.
...a group of National Guardsmen and women who never seem to tire, despite working around the clock.
...a young boy gripping his plastic shovel and grinning from ear to ear - ready to make a difference.
...another trailer pulling into the site, its occupants full of hope upon viewing all those sandbags.

And...a group of 'newbies' - asking for a tutorial on their first sandbagging day.

We'll let them skip meals and charge on through. After all, it doesn't really matter what tomorrow will bring.

Because today they're invincible.

And until someone invents that sand-spitting conveyor belt, they'll have to be.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Roll Call

So you probably heard the world was supposed to end this weekend.

News flash: It didn't.

Which kinda bums me out.

I mean, I'm in the middle of laundry. I don't like to do laundry.

And I've got some deadlines looming this week that would be really great to blow off.

But my kids would probably be mad. It's their last week of school - so, translation: it's a week of parties.

And who would want to leave all that?

Considering their sugar high should bring them home in a state of uncontrollable excitability, uh, the answer would be me.

But here we are. No rapture. No end of the world. No good excuse to miss my deadlines.

I guess if I'm a little disappointed, that Harold Camping guy must be devastated.
Although he probably isn't done predicting stuff.
And at 89 years of age, he doesn't have all that much longer on this earth anyway.
But cheer up, Harry.  We all make mistakes. It's not the end of the world.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fill the water cooler with Kool-Aid and see what happens.

When you spend a lot of time with a three-year-old, you learn a few things. Mainly, you learn what is really important.

For instance, when you get up in the morning, there should always be someone there to hug you. I practically incite a revolt any morning I don't get to my son's bedside quite soon enough.

I've also discovered wardrobe decisions should be based on one thing and one thing only: comfort. My son has no qualms whatsoever in wearing the same outfit every single day, even if it is a Spiderman t-shirt and shorts in the middle of January.

Eating a meal should always be regarded as a social event, perhaps even sliding into the realm of being a spectator sport. If I can make you laugh at how I eat a noodle, then the meal is a grand success.

Since we're on the topic of food, if I lived like a 3-yr-old, I would inhale a bag of potato chips believing it equates to numerous servings of nutrient-rich vegetables.

Never resist a compliment. Instead, agree wholeheartedly. Whenever I tell my son, "You did a great job!" it typically evokes an “I know! I'm amazing!” Where does that healthy self-esteem go when we hit the junior high years?

Speaking of self-esteem, every mirror should be an invitation to strike a pose, make a silly face or simply just stare at yourself for a solid minute or two. In no way should this appear self-indulgent.

Let's not forget the abundance of creativity oozing from this pint-sized person. Based on this fact, nothing should be off limits as a canvas when you have a crayon, marker or other writing utensil in hand. Give your home some character.

Consider the joy of sticky treats. A sucker, popsicle or gum should be all you need to lift your spirits in an instant. Just think of the weight we'd lose if we reached for one of these instead of that soda or latte? Go ahead - walk into the conference room tomorrow with a popsicle for every attendee. You'll be the office hero, I guarantee it.

Or at least my three-year-old will guarantee it...

with his popsicle-smeared grin.

Which reminds me of the final lesson today from three years of endless wisdom:

Smiles should be as automatic as breathing.

If they're not, you need to find yourself a three-year-old to hang out with.