The Dobermans

As part of the census training, we learned about the greatest threats to us as census employees.

The greatest threat of harm was actually slipping and falling. It is very easy to get distracted especially when you are finishing up cases on your census phone while walking. Whoops! Guilty. Thankfully I didn’t fall but I did almost get into someone else’s car. I’ve also been on enough rickety staircases to last me a lifetime.

The third greatest risk of injury was due to car accidents. I could easily understand how that could happen especially when you have to find an address that is poorly marked at dusk.

Today I want to talk about the second greatest threat of injury, animals. I was more likely to be attacked by an animal than a person. I did worry at times of being assaulted or murdered although the percentage of injuries or deaths were rather small from those threats.

My supervisor told me about an employee who was swarmed by bees after knocking on an unused front door. I did come across nests rather frequently but lucked out in that regard.

I was more wary of dogs. I carried treats in my car. It was always a judgment call. How threatening does this dog appear? How old is the dog? How big is the dog? Are there signs that a dog lives there? Did the beware of dog sign hold any merit?

One day I had to make a house call in the middle of nowhere. The front door appeared to be a sliding door. When I knocked on it two Dobermans answered. They hurled their massive bodies against the sliding door and snarled at me. Next to the sliding door was an open window. It wouldn’t have taken much for the dogs to crash through the screen and maul me to death.

It shook me up a little. What if the dogs were outside when I got there and we didn’t notice each other right away?

I was wary of scary looking dogs. Thankfully most of the time the big scary looking dogs had owners nearby.

Halloween lore

To be honest, I’ve always had mixed thoughts about Halloween.

Growing up, my mom had conflicting feelings too.

We lived outside of a small town of around 200 people. My mom was big into walking. So almost every year, we walked into town on Halloween with flashlights if it wasn’t too cold out.

We would always stop at Aunt Grace’s house. Being a banker, she was always practical minded and handed out money to the kids. She would give us a roll of nickels or dimes. I’m not sure if she handed out the whole roll to the other kids.

My grandma always had 3 white sheet ghosts hanging from the big tree in front of her house. She liked to wear funny shirts like the one that said ‘I’ve got bats in my belfry’. She always had tons of candy. Grandma was always happy and smiled greeting the children in costumes. Those are the memories that I am most fond of.

At times, I walked around the neighborhood with older kids. I remember stopping at an old man’s house. He was probably in his 80’s Although in my young mind, he could’ve been 40. He handed us apples as a treat. APPLES!! We walked halfway down the block and smashed them. The bigger kids said that there could be razor blades in them. I still feel bad that the old man might have walked down the road and seen his wrecked apples. It was the 1980’s and in those days we heard stories about the Halloween candy being tampered with in some way.

I also heard stories of black cats being sacrificed and made sure my outdoor cats were locked up somewhere safe for the night. It seemed like a scary night to a worried child. Perhaps it was the one day that evil was allowed to seep into the world because it was invited in.

In the later years, my mom felt conflicted about the holiday after some friends kept their whole family hidden in the basement with their lights off. They thought that partaking in Halloween was akin to devil worship and would land them a prime spot in hell. Halloween has been associated with people doing evil things. I understand how people wouldn’t want their children involved in a holiday that celebrates evil.

When I had children of my own, I felt a little conflicted about the holiday too.

Don’t get me wrong…I love scary movies. I love wearing costumes and pretending to be someone else (alas my love for community theater). As a child I was obsessed with the Salem witch trials and read every book on it the library had. I abhor having lights on in the house. I am a big fan of black cats and the color black in general. I have a healthy fondness for candy.

Over the years we attended various churches…Some were of the opinion that Halloween was of the devil and the only way it should be celebrated is by handing out Christian literature to the children that come to their door…to children dressing up in Halloween costumes for Sunday service…

Who is right? How is a Christian supposed to act?

I can understand every viewpoint. What is wrong with not celebrating? Nothing…less money for the dentists..What is wrong with dressing up as an evil character?? Are you celebrating evil? Are you doing evil? What is your motive?? What is your intent? I personally don’t know anyone that spent the day drinking blood…or sacrificing animals despite the witch lore.

Paul and I decided that we would celebrate Halloween but only allow our young children to dress up in costumes that celebrated goodness. Over the years we had Tinkerbell, an angel, a cow, a mermaid, a cheerleader…I miss those days.

 

 

 

If running doesn’t kill me, it will make me stronger!

On my way home from work this past week, I followed a drunk driver. He was weaving all over the road, in and out of the ditch almost taking out some signs, just missing mailboxes and garbage bins. I felt anger towards the man in the truck as I thought of the school bus returning the little neighborhood kids meer minutes ago. Then it hit me. I wasn’t safe either. Neither were the other bikers or runners. 

At my last doctors appointment, I was told that I was in great shape. My already low cholesterol levels dropped 50 points. My blood pressure was low. I am the epitome of health (something I always remind the doctors of when I am sick). My weight was perfect. Absolutely everything was wonderful. I attributed this to all of my running. I thought the doctor would prescribe me cigarettes, liquor, and a sedentary lifestyle. Seriously, how else is she going to make money off of me?? Injury, well yes, I suppose there could be that. 

There is no doubt that running has made me stronger and healthier. But my anxious mind also thought about how it could kill me. Here are my 50 ways to kill a runner:

1. Getting mauled by a bear, wolf, or dog. 

2. Getting struck by lightening. 

3. Getting overheated. Warm running days don’t happen that often in WI, but when they do we are not prepared for it. 

4. Freezing to death. 

5. Sweating to death. 

6. Tripping over my own feet and hitting my head on the control panel of my treadmill. 

7. Getting struck in the head by flying debris. This could happen when a truck carrying rocks goes over a bump or when someone tosses a beer bottle out the window. This happens, I see all of the crap that you throw out your window. 

8. Dehydration. 

9. Drunk drivers. I try to run in the mornings to avoid this problem.  

10. Dark trails in the woods that happen to be next to a gun range. What? That is a homicide waiting to happen. 

11. Getting hit by a stray bullet. 

12. Getting attacked by a swarm of angry birds or bees. You never know about the birds and the bees. 

13. Delivery drivers, they are always in a hurry. 

14. Now that I think about it, maybe my mail carrier. She never smiles or waves. 

15. Getting caught in white out conditions from snow and getting lost or hit by a car. 

16. Getting hit by a car. 

17. Getting hit by a car!!

18. Getting hit by a car!!!  At least you have a chance of outrunning the rapist. 

19. Getting swept away by a tornado. 

20. Did I mention flash floods?

21. Slipping on ice and bumping my head. 

22. Those service truck guys who ask for directions. 

23. Electrocution from downed power lines. 

24. Running so fast that people don’t seem to see you. 

25. Items that fall from overhanging trees. 

26. Trying to save a cat from getting hit by a car and getting hit by a car. 

27. New drivers. 

28. Old drivers. 

29. Getting hit by a train. 

30. Getting an infection from all of the chaffing. 

31. Getting West Nile, malaria, or Lyme’s Disease from bugs attracted to a sweaty stinky body. 

32. A deadly sunburn. 

33. Being scared to death by a runner that sneaks up behind you. 

34. Choking on rehydration products. 

35. The smell of stinky sweaty running clothes is enough to kill someone alone. 

36. Getting hit by a school bus due to kids distracting the driver. 

37. Training for a marathon. 

38. Infected bloody toenails 

39. Getting pneumonia from running in the rain. 

40. Running in the dark. 

41. Running barefoot and stepping on dirty needles. 

42. Idiot drivers that are texting. 

43. Women who are doing their hair or makeup while driving because they are late for work again. 

44. New parents distracted by a crying baby or the kid who snuck out of his car seat again. 

45. Is there really nothing good on the radio people who veer the direction they are changing their radio station in. 

46. Did I tell you about the wooded trails?

47. Creepy guys in white unmarked vans. 

48. People so in love they can’t keep their eyes on the road. 

49. Falling over in exhaustion. 

50. Seriously, do you know hard it was coming up with 50 ways to kill a runner???

I used to think that running would prolong my life, but now I am not so sure. 


Truly scary

Sometimes the scariest stories are the true ones. This story happened many years ago when I still lived in my parents house. It happened this time of year. It happened in the middle of a dark night like most scary stories do. I awoke to the flashing lights of police cars. We lived in a rural area outside of an unincorporated town, our closest neighbor a half mile away. I was afraid and woke up my dad. I remember my dad telling me that the last time he saw this many police cars near town that the bank had been robbed. 

Sadly, a bank robbery in the middle of the night would have been preferable to what really happened. What really happened?? A car full of partying teens, young and full of life, had been out drinking recklessly abandoning their seat selts and good sense. The driver thought it would be fun to drive fast, really fast. He hit a patch of black ice, rolled the car multiple times, and flipped the car into a ditch ejecting the passengers. The driver walked away with a few bumps and bruises. Two of the passengers mangled bodies were taken to the morgue that night. The field was a graveyard of broken bodies, broken glass, shattered lives, and a damaged car. It was my uncle’s job to take his wrecker and remove the car remains from the field. 

The next morning it was as if the night before never happened. Well, not exactly. It didn’t turn out like that. My mom was taking a walk near the scene of the accident. She saw something so mortifying that she called the police. She was really shook up on the phone. She exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, someone needs to come out here right now, they forgot the face”. “I took anatomy and physiology in college and I know what a face looks like”. “Please come it’s an emergency!”  “I don’t want children to see the faces that you left behind”. The police came back that morning. My mom showed them the faces that she found half covered in snow. But they were only masks. The accident victims decorated the inside of their car with car accident Halloween masks. Gory, mutilated, mangled masks mocking the shattered lives left behind that night in the cold unforgiving snow.