Thursday, August 30, 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Currently, my life seems to be on hold. I'm waiting for my custom shoes to be finished, then I have to wait for the brace to be made, which means I have to wait before I start physical therapy and allow Rufus to come home. I have to wait for someone to help me with groceries, wrapping my leg, emptying the dryer, taking out the garbage. Although I have managed to handle quiet a lot on my own, with one leg and a knee walker, I still can't do some simple tasks like vacuuming my rugs.

This doesn't mean the world stops turning. I still have to do things like renew my driver's license.. in person. So, on a mid-week day (hoping the crowds would be thinner) Gary and I set off for the MVC (Motor Vehicle Commission).

New Jersey's old DMV was a nightmare, with wait lines that took hours and mass confusion everywhere. Plus, the rudeness of the staff was legendary. If you hold a NJ license and dealt with these folks in the 80's and 90's, you know the truth of which I speak. The one thing that past governors were able to do was clean up the process. Usually you can go in and out within ½ hour.

The old days, with lines out the door.
Not us. Gary and I got in line for license renewal and, immediately, I knew we were in for a long wait. I can't stay standing on my roll-about for long: my back starts to throb and I need to sit down. There was one seat left, so I headed for that while Gary held my place. I struggled to position myself onto the seat, other folks around me pretending they didn't see me...except for the one gal opposite. She offered help, was very friendly, and knew exactly what I was going through. She had been a nurse dealing with my kind of surgery. We struck up a very comfortable conversation, one Gary joined once my paperwork was processed and we were waiting for my photo to be taken. I actually enjoyed the wait, in the end exchanging names, etc. I even told her about my books.

This year, you can not use your old picture on the new license. You have to take glasses off, and you may not smile. I was not prepared for that. My skin was sweaty, my hair limp, and my face was flushed from moving around on the roll-about. The resulting picture (below) was the BETTER of the two shots they took. I look like the wreck of the Hesperus. You might even see bits of driftwood in the background, for all I know. I look 98, not 58, and felt about that aged. After this, my license goes into the vault of time, never to be shown again unless you have a badge.

It's blurry but... was I telling a lie?
When I came out to wait for my finished license, there were no more seats. I looked around at the males, and young healthy females, all firmly parked in place and said, aloud, “I guess I'll just stand here.” At that point, the young lady behind the desk said, “Miss? Take this chair.” She offered me a spare office chair and then started saying, loudly, “You would think that someone younger would have offered you a place to sit. People are selfish, and there are no gentlemen left in the world. You all should be ashamed!” I laughed to see the bowed heads and guilty looks. Wow.

Later that day, I had to make yet another appointment to get my eyes checked. I gave my name to the clerk, who promptly asked me to spell it. OK, I can see where Katharine can get spelled various ways, but Clark? It's either “e” or no “e”. What's so hard? Yet, time and again I'm told, “No. Spell your LAST name for me.” Really.
Rather than get annoyed, I called my Claude and told her about it.

Well, I don't know, “ she said. “I've seen it spelled with a 'Q'.”

That's QUARK, ya git, It's a particle of matter...or a cheese... not a surname!”

Well, I didn't know, OK?”

I started to giggle. “Next time someone asks, I'm going to tell them I only spell it in Egyptian: owl, squiggly line, ankh, eye of Horus, feather. Some people put an extra owl at the end. I don't.”

We were both in hysterics for a good five minutes.

I think this says "handicapped chariots only"
Late last week, another friend and I went down to Cape May (my first time) to go on a 3 hour whale watch. We had to use not only the leg walker, but also the wheelchair. Crew helped push the wheelchair up the ramp and onto the boat, and tried to maneuver it around the deck, but my chair is very wide. They stored it below deck while my friend fetched the roll-about, and that is how I moved on a speeding ship. Ever try to use the head, get in and out of a cabin, and stay topside on wheels? Every passenger over 400 lbs (and there seemed to be many) insisted on shoving past me and my poor useless leg.

We saw dolphins right before my buddy discovered she gets sea sick on open ocean. Great. She retreated into the cabin while I stayed outside, loving every minute in the sea air, watching wave and sky form the horizon. We never did see a whale (it's called a watch, after all, not a hunt) and so I joined my friend inside for the return to port. The crew not only fetched me something to eat and drink, they also got me off the boat, and stayed with me as I made my way across stone and gravel to the bathrooms. Afterwards, when my friend had pulled up the car and I got myself placed inside, a young boy who was in the queue for the bathroom ran over and helped her get my wheelchair into the car.

Lovely boat, lovely crew..BIG passengers!
So, here is the lesson learned: even the difficult, the annoying, the frustrating provide opportunities for connections. Although there are plenty of “I” centric folks in the universe, there are those who are still wiling to reach out, be friendly or be helpful. Even frustrating phone calls can be a source for cheering up a friend stressed at work. The trick is to relax, see the opportunities for the positive in people, situations, yourself. This is a great big schoolroom, after all.

BTW: Not only did my friend spend the majority of the time having her stomach roll with the waves, but my camera ate the few pictures I was able to get of us, the boat and the pod of dolphins. That's alright. We looked like crap anyway.
Till next time... chins up, people!
P.S. For the Sherlockians among you, Moffat and Gatiss have reveled the three clue words for next year's season three of Sherlock: Rat, Wedding, Bow. Will they finally write about the Giant Rat of Sumatra? Are they marrying off John? Are they doing a tale from His Final Bow? You tell me!

Go, Team Baker Street!