458: Trucking On

I am a prisoner in this truck. I am not even a CDL (commercial driver license) driver, I am merely a passenger. I was trying to visit my husband, who IS a newly-certified, licensed, tested and inspected CDL driver. When his company-owned truck developed problems and he was stuck waiting for repairs over Christmas, I cashed in a previously-purchased American Airlines flight ticket I would otherwise have lost had I not used it for this purpose, and flew out to Omaha, Nebraska to see him, after I spent a couple of days visiting the rest of my family in Georgia.

I expected to ride with him on his drives for about a week, since he was supposed to be routed on deliveries to Atlanta to pick me up, and to drop me off, for this jaunt. That was December 28. This is January 7, and the next run is to some freaking place in MICHIGAN. That has absolutely nothing in common with ATLANTA, GEORGIA. The next delivery after that is scheduled for Missouri, which is also further north and west of where we are now, in West Virginia. Wrong direction, dispatch!

I got desperate enough to check the tickets to Atlanta on Greyhound buses, for Pete’s sake. The bus costs nearly as much as it would cost to freaking FLY. Bus tickets were supposed to be cheap enough for people who do not have enough money to buy airline tickets to buy them instead. At least, they USED to be cheaper! Buses are certainly less comfortable than the airplane, and there is no snack served, either, so the bus ticket should be considerably less expensive than flying. Not so!

Ah, well, as I write on the truck stop provided Internet while serving the mandatory 10 hour refresh down time to be able to drive again, I have discovered that my brother’s expected children have been born January 6th – twins: one girl and one boy. Graydon James and Elise Drew – making me a new auntie twice over. In addition, while visiting my family, my daughter announced that she and her husband are now expecting their first – making me a grandma-to-be later this year. It is quite clear that life does go on – even if I am stuck in a truck!


281: Children

I have fur children, and a feather child (temporarily). I also have human children. Human children are a different kettle of fish, obviously. I basically have human children because I planned to have them. Sort of. When my husband (number 1) and I married, I overheard some family member of his commenting in the ladies’ room at church that I could have only caught him by getting pregnant. My daughter arrived five years later, thank you very much. Nyah, nyah, na pooh pooh.

My son arrived because my first obstetrician and husband number one voted not to tie my tubes after my daughter was born. I was campaigning hard for ligation, since being pregnant basically made me feel like that dude in Alien on the table while that thing inside of him ate its way out. Thank goodness my daughter was human, and has remained so…but the mental image remains, kinda like mind rape. I won’t EVER forget that scene. So, my son arrived in due course, since I did not get my surgery by a vote of two-to-one.

I am pretty sure that women are born mentally defective. This is so we will have a SECOND child, having forgotten/blocked out the memory of the arrival of the first one. Pause for full-body shudder. And *I* never had a labor pain – not the first one. I was a C-section from the word go. And it still freaks me out.

If the nurse could come into the room and tell me “here is your new offspring, Mrs. Stephens, congratulations,” I might consider it…..for a minute or two. The process of growing my own? No, thanks. I am an unnatural woman, I know. I think the fact that I need more testosterone than average females in order not to kill people is a clue. I discovered that when I had the baby-making factory removed a few years ago. I highly recommend it. Now, life is much smoother without all the hormonal highs and lows – a much smoother ride, thank you!

I am batting .500. My daughter is human, my son……well…..my daughter is human. Why do boys have such a much harder time? Is it because they are NOT mentally defective, or because they are MORE mentally defective than women are?

Topic for a new research study?

250: What to do

How does somebody know what to do? In any given situation, how do people know what to do? Animals have instincts. They know what to do most of the time, except when they come into contact with one of us, and then their instincts let them down, because we are manipulative creatures, and we don’t follow the laws of Mother Nature (for the most part). We cheat, a lot.

Animals know if they are far enough away from another animal that they can get a pretty good running start if threatened that the other animal can’t usually hurt them. That law does not apply to a human, though, and lots of animals learn that one the hard way – as their last lesson. The only way to be safe around a human is if they don’t know you are there, or they cannot see you, and even then sometimes…….

At any rate, how do people make decisions about how to behave and what to do? Culture accounts for a lot of it, and upbringing accounts for even more. Still, all of us know individuals who “buck the system,” choosing ways to behave that, quite frankly, don’t make a whole lot of sense to everybody else.  I rather think that if everybody else is wondering why I am doing something, perhaps I should reconsider and think about it a little more, but just because everybody else thinks I am doing strange things is CERTAINLY not a legitimate reason to stop doing them. So, then, what IS a legitimate reason to stop doing something? Or, sometimes, not to begin doing something? What are the standards or “proper” behavior?

Well. After some consideration (not too much, mind you) here is what I have come up with.

1. DO NO HARM. This one is a toughie sometimes, because each one of us is interconnected with a great many others of us, and sometimes doing no harm is pretty difficult. As an example, I waited until my children were old enough to begin college before I accepted a job teaching overseas. My daughter handled it fine, my son imploded. This is not to say that he would not have had significant problems even had I been there and more easily accessible,  but being mom, I feel somewhat accountable because my son is not coping with being grown up well at all. Still, he’s making his own decisions, something he told me repeatedly his last year of high school he was waiting impatiently to do……….

2. Align the behavior with your Supreme Being. If you don’t have a Supreme Being, refer to number 1. If you do, make sure your behavior is compatible with what your scriptures (NOT YOUR RELIGIOUS LEADERS) have to say about ethical behavior.

3. That’s about it. The rest can go hang.

224: Causing Someone’s Death

Some mistakes cannot be fixed. That is one reason why most real grownups try very hard not to make them. Some mistakes are permanent. I made one of those. On the last day of school in 2004, I made what was supposed to be a normal journey: our morning commute to school with my daughter, and my husband’s son and daughter. We made it to the end of the road, where our small residential road joins the highway. There, I pulled out into the road in front of a black pickup truck.

I only know this from what others have told me, and what I have managed to figure out after the fact. The last thing I remember is opening the car’s door to look and see if there was any traffic coming. I did this because the window would not roll down, we had not yet had it fixed, and there was condensation on the glass. So I opened the door to be sure before I pulled out into the road. I never saw the truck. I tried.

The truck hit us in classic “t-bone” style, on the driver’s side, which explains why there is a big blank spot in my memory of the event. I was knocked OUT. My daughter said my eyes were open, but she said, “Mama, you were not there.” She called my husband, who was still at home, and he was the first to arrive; even before the paramedics or the police…or the life flight helicopters they called for us. My daughter, in the front passenger seat, was not injured other than a bump on the head – apparently my head and hers collided. My husband’s son, on the passenger side in the back seat, was very mildly injured, but was treated and released. I had a broken collarbone and some broken ribs, along with the big blank place in my memory. My husband’s nine-year-old daughter, who was sitting with her seatbelt on (all of us had them on) directly behind me, got the brunt of the blunt force trauma. That’s what they listed on her death certificate as her cause of death. They tried. The surgeries she underwent at Emory in Atlanta, where the life flight helicopter landed at the state’s finest trauma center, totaled a quarter of a million dollars in cost, and would have been worth every penny (and more) had they managed to save her. They could not.

I won’t go into the horrible details of her funeral home family visit, where her mother’s family (my husband’s ex) blamed me publicly for her death, as if I had intended that she perish, and had set out that morning to accomplish that feat; or the horrors of her funeral service, where they again did the same thing in front of my church family, even though I personally had paid for the entire service and all the other arrangements because they were all too generationally poverty-stricken to be able to afford to bury her.

That is something I will live with forever. I caused her death, even though I did not mean to do so. I pulled out in front of that truck, even though I looked, and did not see it. Even though I had no intentions of harming anyone, I am responsible. I was driving. No one can take that away, and it cannot be fixed.