Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Habits and Snakes

Spooked myself yesterday. Walking through life with my eyes on but no one home upstairs. About two weeks ago the house we live in was getting a new roof and through a series of unhappy coincidences, a piece of roofing managed to go through a window in our garage whose shards did some 'dinging' to the windshield of our car parked inside at the time. No hole or missing chunk, but some scratches that tend to skew oncoming headlights, especially in the rain. Not a big deal, and the folks doing the roofing made the arrangements for the windshield replacement in a place really close to where I work.

That's the part I forgot about, sort of. I dropped off the car on my way into work, did the 'fill out the envelope and put your keys in it and throw it through the drop slot into the garage' part of the drill, which was the part I was afraid I'd screw up (I have the talent, trust me). It's a two minute walk from the garage to my work. That I never knew they did auto glass replacement until last week I'm hoping has more to do with that I never needed to have a windshield replaced than that I never read the twenty foot long, six foot high banner advertising just this service that hangs from the front of the garage (which I pass every single day at least twice a day and have for the last eighteen or so years.) When they remake that remake of Sherlock Holmes, I will not be holding my breath waiting on that casting call.

The whole process went as smoothly as 'eggs through a hen' as Dave Malone would say. I worked with David when both of us were in the military, back when we were children (at least that's how I remember it). He was a Texan with an inexhaustible supply of aphorisms that would make Dan Rather blush to include characterizing a blinding glimpse of the obvious, as 'if it were a copperhead, I would be withering in pain.' He had others that were very colorful, but time and place being what they, they're not--at least not now, if you follow.

I park in the same place every day--at the hour I arrive I have a choice as there's no one else about, but 'I eat my peas with honey, I've done it all my life. It makes the peas taste funny, but it keeps them on my knife." I've mentioned the difference between a rut and a grave is often only the depth of the habit. It was that habit that tripped me up when I was leaving for the day. I made sure all the lights were off, the computer was powered down and the windows closed and shut with the blinds halfway down (the same amount of halfway) on (both) windows. Closed the door over and made sure the bolt turned with the key. Just like every workday.

Not only did I walk out to the parking lot as I do every afternoon, when I looked up and didn't see the car as I headed down the sidewalk, I quickened my step just in case, perhaps, I could catch up to it and ended up standing in the parking space where the car usually is, but wasn't, trying to satisfy myself that the car really wasn't there. I have a high threshold of proof, since you might have been convinced when you didn't see it, but I not only had to stand in the vacant space, I had to walk around the parking lot, looking in all the other places the car wasn't to satisfy myself that it was not in the lot. Mission accomplished

It was only after someone I work with shouted out the window something about 'windshield glass' that I remembered about the windshield replacement. Technically, they didn't remind me-I thought of it second. Not that the experience will impact in any way my reaction the next time that TV commercial about "Windex makes glass disappear" comes on. I'm still going to reach for my list of people I'd like to try that on, as disappointed as I fear that I shall be with the result.
-bill kenny

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