Calming an impatient heart

At the first spot I stopped, an old man clasp his hands together across his chest, casually leaned his head back, and closed his eyes. In the next stop, packed with people nudged up against each other in tiny chairs, the teen next to me bent forward with his headphones on and scrolled through his music playlist.

I had to make a number of stops a couple weeks ago to my local garage to get my car worked on and then to the barbershop and I couldn’t help but notice that everyone else seemed to be dealing with “the wait” better than me.

Besides the old man and teenager, two men talked lazily about what they planned for the upcoming weekend and a guy my age whistled a show tune like he had all the time in the world.

And then there was me, my right leg restlessly moving up and down and my eyes bouncing up every few seconds to try to make eye contact to see if it was my turn. I’d sit for a few minutes and then stand-up abruptly to walk to the door to look out the window. I couldn’t go anywhere. My phone was dying and I couldn’t call anyone. Where did I think I was going? Who did I think I was going to call?

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My five biggest parenting mistakes

I checked the calendar on my smartphone one more time. My coworker was running late. We were supposed to meet for coffee early in the morning before our schedules got too crazy. We needed to come to agreement on a key section of our project plan.

He’s normally an obsessively punctual person so I was surprised when I didn’t immediately see him in our company cafeteria and even more surprised when he showed up fifteen minutes late looking flustered with his bag flying behind him and his shirt tail sneaking out of his pants. He apologized and explained that it had taken everything he had to get out the door.

I told him to get his coffee and take a few minutes and we could start when he was ready. When he came back he told me that his 6-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter both had meltdowns and didn’t want to go to school. He ended up making matters worse by screaming at the two of them. Everything went downhill from there.

I told him that I could relate and shared that I’ve had more than a few parental failures in my day. We chatted about our families for a few minutes and then quickly tackled our work issue.

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Seeing 20/20

The optometrist clicked on the lens and asked: “Which is better, line 1 or line 2?” We had been at this game for ten minutes, but to me it felt like an hour. I squinted my eyes together hoping it would help and, when it didn’t, I admitted to the doctor that I had no clue. In mock frustration, I added, “you’re the doctor, you tell me.”

glasses-928465_640The young doctor laughed at my lame attempt at sarcasm, but I really wasn’t joking. Getting your eyes checked annually is a good thing and I appreciate my eyesight, but I’ve come to dread the test. If you’ve been to an optometrist or ophthalmologist lately or wear contact lenses or glasses, you know what I’m talking about.

The doctor enters the room and runs through a flurry of tests all with the purpose or goal of seeing you fail. And oh, how I fail. Yes, I get that they have a “method to their madness,” but they need to test and prod for your weak points. Where is your point of failure?

For someone with poor vision like me, I spend the entire visit straining to be perfect and second guessing myself. I can make-out the third, fourth and fifth letters in the fifth line, but I’m guessing on the first two letters. Was the first letter an O or a Q? And what about the second: an E or a C? Does that count?

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The art of the negotiation: The shootout at the O.K. Corral

I look him over coldly, head to toe. I pay close attention to the little beads of sweat forming on his brow and the twitch of his hands. He does the same to me. We’re both trying to read each other, to get a sense of the other guy.

We’re two cold-hearted gunslingers from the American Old West. In another time, we would have been in Dodge City, Kansas, or Tombstone, Arizona, facing off in a real life duel. Instead, we’re two men facing off in, well, a mattress store in suburbia.

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He’s a salesman, looking to add to his weekly sales total and push up his commission. I’m a customer looking to make the best possible deal. If we walked outside right now guns drawn, we’d probably get run over on this hot 90-degree day by a pimply-faced teenager fighting for a parking spot in front of the new frozen yogurt stand or by a soccer mom or dad in a huge tank-like SUV going to the LA Fitness gym. Continue reading “The art of the negotiation: The shootout at the O.K. Corral”

Living with the unknown, living with MS

We drove home in silence. My wife didn’t say anything. I didn’t say anything. We were stuck in rush hour traffic and I searched for the right words to break the silence, but they never came. We had seen the umpteenth doctor and we still had no real answers. We had sought answers. We left with more questions.

traffic-jam-688566_1280For the previous three months, my wife had been experiencing pain and loss of feeling in her arms and legs. She would be fine one minute, the next her leg would give out underneath her. She complained constantly of her arms falling asleep or simply feeling like 20-pound weights.

We went first to our family doctor, then to a specialist. They gave her one test then another, and another. In particular, each time they would ask her to close her eyes and touch her nose. Each time, she would miss completely, touching her eyes, lips, ears, but nowhere near her nose.

doctor-563428_640The search for answers

We continued onward in our quest to get answers, traveling to some to the most respected hospitals in the Philadelphia region. After one such visit, we finally got the answer we had been searching. The doctor walked in the room and let us know that he thought my wife suffered from Multiple Sclerosis.

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Five reasons why I like my dog better than some people

My wife likes to tease me that I would be happier on a deserted island or deep in the woods in a cave since then I wouldn’t have to deal with annoying people. I ponder the question in mock seriousness for a brief minute or two and then ask if I get to bring our dog Nittany, a six-year-old Bichon Frise – Shih Tzu mix.

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Faith and the sound of metal on metal

I swerved the car left than right, skimmed off the concrete barrier and then back out on the road and crashed into the rear of another car. I looked up in the mirror just in time to see a third car strike us squarely in the rear-end. 

Seconds earlier my wife, daughter, our three-year-old family dog and I were enjoying a leisurely day-after-Christmas drive to my mothers. The next minute, we were sitting in our stopped car, too scared to talk, hearts pounding, wondering what exactly happened.

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Fifteen years later, the memories remain fresh

When I think about the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the fourth plane that crashed in Western Pennsylvania fifteen years ago, I’m struck by the smallest of details that I remember about the day.

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