Hate Speech

“He severed the umbilical cord to the rest of humanity” – The Thirst by Jo Nesbo

That’s what I seem to be doing. Severing most ties to the rest of humanity.

Hell, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Seeming intelligent people, some dear friends, just can’t help themselves.

What’s the point of publicly exposing your unsolicited prejudiced political views on Facebook or other public forums?

Do you really think your rants are going to influence anyone?

Change minds?

Really.

Yes I have strong political views. But they are mine alone. Not for public consumption.

And, let’s face it. No one cares what I believe, especially if they don’t agree.

And no one cares what you believe either.

What we really care about is how YOU treat others.

So please, keep your hate speech to yourself.

Otherwise, our friendship might be altered.

“Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force.” – Irving Berlin

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Thinkers

“Man’s mind is so formed that it is far more susceptible to falsehood than to truth” – Desiderius Erasmus

 Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam was one of Europe’s most famous and influential scholars. A man of great intellect who rose from meager beginnings to become one of Europe’s greatest thinkers, he defined the humanist movement in Northern Europe. So they believe.

Reading who this man was and what he was known for and as, raises questions. At least in my mind.

Seems to me we humans often try to define intelligence. I’m not sure we are equipped to make that judgement.

Desiderius believed that man was very susceptible to falsehoods. I believe man is far more susceptible to his environment and that is what shapes our ability to comprehend the complexities of life. Whether we do it well or poorly.

“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing” – Socrates

I believe Socrates was a very wise man. He recognized the truth. The real human condition.

Mark Twain was pretty sharp as well.

As was Will Rogers.

In my humble opinion.

What a man does with what he has is the clearer measure of intelligence. That’s what I believe.

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Hell Week

“No matter who tries to teach you lessons on life, you won’t understand it until you go through it yourself”

 

What a week. So glad it’s over.

Monday. Picked up this 60 year old woman. She must be the Devil’s lover.

It began as follows:

Pulled up in front of the medical facility on time.

Parked at the patient pick up point.

No one in sight. Called the patient to let her know I was waiting.

Patient: (in an aggrieved tone) Where are you? I don’t see you.

Me: I’m at the patient pick up point.

Patient: I don’t see you.

Me: Well, maybe I’m at the wrong building. Give me a minute to move to that other building.

I start to move and suddenly this wild, crazy woman is chasing me screaming something unintelligible and obviously not very nice.

It was her. Turns out I was at the correct spot and on time.

She got in the van and proceeded to give me hell for the duration of the ride.

It really got to me and ruined my day.

The following day a computer glitch caused me to miss my last pick up. Two hours late I finally got the assignment and raced to pick the rider up.

Inside the facility I locate the woman. She’s 72, on dialysis, has breathing problems and had just finished two weeks in the hospital. She was not a happy camper.

Feeling terrible I profusely apologize as I escort her to the van.  Get to the Van only to discover that I had locked the keys in the Van.

Now she and I must endure another hour wait for a lock smith to open the Van. Imagine if you will my feelings of embarrassment, frustration, and humiliation as we wait.

Wednesday. My last day of this awful work week. Ten hour day but at least my problems will be over and tomorrow is Thanksgiving.

Get home. Get out of the Van and drop the Tablet on the cement drive way. It shatters.

Got to call the boss and fess up to my clumsiness and futility. He’s upset and understandably so. The predictable end to a horrible week.

Well, it’s over. Got to cheer up and enjoy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday. Late. Gaby is baking my favorite pie for Thanksgiving. Mincemeat.

As she’s taking it out of the oven, she drops it. The beautiful pie now looks like a bowl of beef stew.

 

It’s OK though. It still tastes wonderful. Just a different presentation.

We can live with that.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

And please God, quit picking on me.

 

“The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter” – Mark Twain

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The Talker

“Tis better to be alone than in bad company” – Hurt Machine by Reed Farrel Coleman

Ever been around someone who talked all the time. Incessantly. No pauses. A running monologue of irrelevant observations and mind numbing platitudes till blood oozed from your ears and your organs began to shut down.

I have. Just this past week.

I had the unfortunate responsibility to train a new driver. God got even with me for some past transgression. Having endured the madness, I’m sure I have a free pass through the pearly gates.

So for three straight days I was locked in the van with Jimmy. Eight hours a day. Twenty four hours of unimaginable hell.

Medical Transport is not rocket science. However, there are protocols each driver must follow to execute the job.

We use a tablet to receive assignments. Pick up and drop off times, addresses as well as names and other pertinent info must be accessed and various sign in techniques must be learned. All involve working with a tablet and a unique computer program.

The first two days the trainee works with only the computer. The last day they do everything and the trainer merely observes.

The first day began the nonstop assault on my nerves. Talk, talk, talk. Condescending statements. Questionable observations. All delivered with a dull, irritating voice void of modulation.

The second day more of the same. At some point, as we were cruising the freeway at seventy mph, I actually considered opening the door and exiting the vehicle.

The third day I just lost it. I crossed the threshold. I was no longer a functioning human being.

Example:

Jimmy: Have you ever eaten at McDonalds?

Me: Are you serious? Every American, at one point in their life, has eaten at McDonalds. Why would you ask me such a stupid question?

Jimmy: Well, I was going to show you the first McDonald built in Tulsa.

Me: I couldn’t care less. I don’t want you to show me anything. Shut up and drive.

Jimmy: I went to grammar school just over that hill.

Me: (Silence)

Shortly we were cruising a major 6 lane highway in the middle lane doing 80 MPH. While he droned on about some innocuous subject he kept drifting in and out of the lane next to us. One driver in that lane had to slam the brakes to avoid a collision.

He was oblivious as he obsessed about the condition of man.

I asked him if he was aware he was drifting in and out of the lane?

Did not respond. Instead he began to discuss something else.

Jimmy: I think people should calmly discuss feelings and opinions respectfully so we can all learn from each other.

Something in my physiological system slid sideways. Alarms went off. Pulse quickened. Body chemistry changed. I began to drift in another dimension.

We are dangerously drifting in and out of our lane at 80 MPH and the driver is insane.

I lost it.

Me: I don’t give a damn what other people think. About anything. Do you understand? Furthermore, you need to stop talking and focus on your driving. I am not going to listen to anything you have to say. What you think.

If you so much as blink in the next 3 hours I am going to kill you. Got it?

 

“It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense – Mark Twain

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Attention Getters

 “True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country” – Kurt Vonnegut

99% of the patients we transport are just trying to get through the day. Not given to conversation. Riding in silence. Resigned.

We pick them up. Drop them off. And on to the next one.

And then there are the attention getters.

Make you ride higher in the driver’s seat. Kind of unconsciously force you to increase pressure on the accelerator.

For instance:

Picked up Margaret at the OU psychiatric hospital for transportation home. 42 years old.

Margaret: Sorry I’m late. Had issues and the session took longer. (1 hour longer)

Me: You okay?

Margaret: Yeah. Got my meds. I’m OK. Sometimes I just want to hurt somebody. You know….really mess them up.

(Long pause………………………….)

Me: (quick look in the rear view mirror. She seems sort of agitated. Hard lines on her face.) It’s Ok Margaret. I didn’t mind the wait. I get paid by the hour. (trying to keep the atmosphere light)

Silence. No response.

A very long 10 minute ride. A real uncomfortable situation. Quick, furtive peeks in the back. Hoping she took her meds.

Then there was Samantha. 31.

Picked her up around 10 am for an appointment at the OBGYN clinic. She waddles up the sidewalk. Obviously very pregnant.

I joke……Birthing is not allowed in the van.

Better get going then. I’m 9 months pregnant and this one is real close.

Wow. OK. Hit the road Jack. We are out of here.

So is this your first?

Nope. My 5th.

(Oh My God. Don’t they get easier and faster with each successive one? This one will probably pop out like a champagne cork. Damn…..I didn’t sign up for this.)

(Hit a bump in the road. Was that a moan from the back? Why are my hands shaking?)

(Got to get a grip. Avoid all bumps)

(Oh my God…..my bladder is talking to me. Not now. Please God. Almost there. Just 5 more minutes.)

In the end….we made it.

“If you are unable to feel fear, you cannot be courageous” – The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo

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One Last Hug

“There is a wisdom of the head and a wisdom of the heart” – Charles Dickens

Retirement bored me. So…………I got a part time job driving a van for a medical transport company here in Tulsa. Have been doing that for about 4 months now.

One day I drove a 62 year old woman to the hospital.

She looked really down. Sad.

You naturally want to do something to lighten the load. Help carry the cross.

Got to be careful. Getting involved with these riders is risky business. Possibly the last thing they want to do is discuss their problems with strangers. You become intrusive.

Then there are times when those in pain welcome the opportunity to unload. The caveat here is the emotional price imposed on your soul.

She seemed approachable so I engaged her in conversation. Wanted to ease her mind if I could.

Having a bad day I ventured.

Yeah. My mother is dying of breast cancer. She chokes on the words.

Silence. Neither of us speak for several minutes. The solemn moment requires no comment.

And then, a redacted account of her mother’s struggle with cancer. I listened. And paid the price for getting involved. There is no avenue for me to share the load. The cross is too heavy.

I feel so inadequate.

Arrived at the hospitable. She got out.

She said she had to give her Mother one Last Hug, turned and walked away.

Drove and thought. Lost it.

“Everyone has holes in their heart”

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A Day in the LIfe of………..

“Stepping into a tornado screams…..This is the dumbest thing you will ever do.” –  Shannon Messenger, Let the Sky Fall

 

So I was minding my own business.

Just doing my job.

Driving a patient to her appointment.

Suddenly……

Rain so hard and dense the truck in front of me disappeared. Wind so strong the van was pushed to weird angles.

What the hell is going on?

Gripped the wheel and slowed to 5 mph. Prayed no one would plow into us.

About 5 minutes later visibility improved and we breathed a sigh of relief. Continued on to the destination.

Arrived. The patient opens the door to the sound of a siren in the distance. A tornado warning, I wonder. Surely not.

Surely yes, as it turned out.

Learned later that at that time and place a tornado had formed and moved away from us to the East.

A day in the life of………….

 

“Sometimes, doing the right thing at the wrong time can be as bad as straight up doing the wrong thing.”

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Make A Way

“You are going to die. There is no question about that. The question is are you going to live?”

 

Been working this medical transport thing for 3 months.

Poor health is a heavy cross.

Poverty exacerbates the misery.

These people live with both daily.

I work with them 8 hours a day.

I am reluctant to share this experience. We all have our share of problems. Right?

However, there is an attribute that many of these people share. A way of coping.

It surprised me and maybe you too will be startled by this mechanism.

In their words – “I’ve given my problems to the Lord. Let him deal with them”

And, quite frankly, I don’t know how to wrap my brain around that.

I mean, how is that a simple act can alleviate the pain and misery these people cope with daily?

Sometimes the body is unfathomable. So too the mind.

 

“Nothing is too wonderful to be true” – An Unquiet Mind by Kay Jamison

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Love on the road

“I thought I was promiscuous, but it turns out I was just thorough.” Russell Brand

While driving for a medical transportation co in the Tulsa area, I use a blue tooth device with my Iphone to monitor the GPS app that is giving me directions.

The ear plug makes it easier to hear over road noise etc. and only I can hear the directions or incoming phone calls.

Yesterday, while picking up a 62 year old lady for transportation to her Doctor appointment, my daughter called. Remember, the lady cannot hear the incoming call.

“Hi Ann, what’s up?”

“Just checking on you Dad. You left before I got up”

“I know. Had an 8 o’clock pick up. Had to leave early”

“Oh. You OK? Everything cool?”

“Everything’s fine. Just now picking the lady up so got to run. See you guys around 5”

“OK. Love you Dad”

“I love you”

Meanwhile, the lady just hears my “I love you”.

She has this startled look and I tell her that was my daughter on the phone.

Wow. For a moment I thought you were talking to me and I was thinking this is some kind of service and even though this is a very fast relationship I’ll take it. I need all I can get at this age.

You had to be there.

“My best birth control now is just to leave the lights on.” – Joan Rivers

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What it means to be human

“Before 70 we are merely respected at best and we have to behave all the time. But after 70 we are respected, esteemed, admired, and revered and don’t have to behave unless we want to” – Mark Twain

 

We humans are a strange species. We have to learn over and over what it means to be human.

I’m learning. Transporting poor people with a wide range of physical and emotional problems is the teacher.

The grandmother raising the 12 year old autistic grandson.

The 42 year old single mother on dialysis.

The many coping with cancer. Pain. Treatments.

Just a few examples.

All living in various degrees of poverty.

For these people, the dominant dynamic is pain. Physical and emotional. 24/7.

This can be an overwhelming environment.

How do these people cope?

What drives them to march on?

It’s been my experience that they all remain optimistic and frame their condition with the right perspective.

They embrace life. Not the suffering.

It could be worse.

I’m on this side of the dirt.

And so on.

Wow.

Maybe that’s what it means to be human.

At least to some.

 

“It seems like there is something out there before you get to it”

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