Tag Archives: living

Hello, Mr. Angry

It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes while traveling we run into people who are just clueless about how to act in public. I was riding on a hotel shuttle bus that was dropping four sets of two people at various restaurants at various points in Market Square and along the Riverwalk in San Antonio. Philip, me, a couple of women, and two sets of guys, all either tourists or in town on business. Not a lot of cross talk, mostly, we were all waiting for our stops. I was sitting with a couple of guys heading out for steaks. Philip was sitting in front of me with two women going out for Mexican food. It was a random grouping of strangers who happened to be in the same hotel on the same night, and I’d not recognize any of them if I saw them today.
Out of nowhere, one of the guys sitting by me began going on about politics. Specifically, he began to discuss, loudly, his hatred of politicians. And his possibly made-up-as-he-went-along belief that something should be done–like blowing up buildings.
Although it was clear he was a blowhard, who might or might not have been spending some dedicated time at a happy hour before heading out for the evening, everyone’s private conversations stopped and it seemed like we all perked up our ears.
“Keep talking, I’m recording you,” said the man’s buddy.
And the man did keep talking—which clearly was not what his buddy hoped.
“We hear you, too” said a woman in the seat in front of me.
And the man started again.
Then I quoted Arlo Guthrie and said, “And they all moved away from him on the Group W Bench.”
My comment flustered him to the point he paused. And his friend took the opportunity to jump in, “I haven’t thought of that song in years.” The friend began singing lines of “Alice’s Restaurant” until the shuttle got to the steakhouse and he and Mr. Blowhard left the shuttle.
Do I believe this man would ever really blow up a building? No. But none of us wanted to hear him blather on about it, just as no one wants to hear people joking about blowing up a plane while they are waiting in line at the airport. It was an uncomfortable moment that can happen when strangers are thrown together even for a short shuttle ride. But I can say I usually have more comfortable moments with the people I run across in the course of my travels.


A Good Time was Had by All

It was a nice evening, still too cool to spend much time outside, but the promise of spring was there. Our host made a perfect version of Julia Child’s Lamb Stew–and our hostess made a Buttermilk Lemon Panna Cotta. The wine flowed, the conversation carried the night, we got to know our hosts and the other couple they had invited better. After dinner there was coffee and conversation and friendly dogs wanting to be petted.

As much as I like to entertain, there is a different kind of pleasure in being the guest at a friend’s home. We go out so often with business associates–many of whom we are very friendly with–but there is a difference. No matter how friendly the relationship, when there is an ongoing business relationship in the mix there is always a bit of a shadow. I notice that when former clients have retired the relationship changes just a tiny bit, and becomes just slightly more comfortable.

Friends by choice instead of business colleagues just made for a more relaxing evening, and I can’t wait to try to make Panna Cotta at home!

When Shall We Live if Not Now?

runners Yesterday, there was a bombing at the Boston Marathon. Today, I am writing this from Seat 9-F as I fly toward the East coast.

Security at the airport this morning was relatively high, and the local media was there with cameras, asking travelers how they felt to be flying the day after a terrorist attack, which is a question designed it increase fear. But for me the answer is—it feels like most other days since the second time I flew after 9-11. Because, you either live with the knowledge that life comes with risk, or you stay home. And I don’t stay home.

Like most people, I am angered and sickened by the fact that a person or group would attack, mutilate and kill random people. As I write this, the attacker is unknown, so his or her reasons for this are also unknown. Not that it matters to the families of the people killed, or others whose lives are permanently changed by the event, but it seems like we always want to know why, as if there might be a reason that would make us say “Oh—I see—well no wonder.”

No doubt, when we get the answers, we will not likely find peace. We will just be reminded that where ever we go, whatever we are doing, things could go wrong. In the last few years, possibly because more people were adding “run a marathon” to their bucket list, it seemed that there were more deaths associated with running the races across the country, usually from heart attacks or something similar. This year, we have people killed violently by someone wanting to make a statement or maybe just wanting to watch—we don’t yet know. Dying while out living our lives is a risk we take—we seem to find dozens of ways to put ourselves at risk for fun (skydiving, mountain climbing, driving, swimming, boating and running) but most of us accept the trade-off of fun or convenience to risk of the activities in which we participate. We are not prepared, however, when someone else adds to our risk by actively targeting us. But it happens. It happens in the USA, and it happens around the world.

So, for a while (and for some people, possibly from now on) there will be changes made, both real and placebo in value, and we will move on with our lives. But, because there is some truth to the idea that if we burrow in and stop doing the things that may make us vulnerable, but that add to our lives, the crazy wins. And that would injure all of us.

I am not saying we should not be cautious. I am certainly not saying we should accept violence as part of life, though it strikes me that as long as there are people, there will be violence. But events where a person, deranged by nature or by rage, acts against unknown groups cannot be allowed to limit our lives for his/her cause or pleasure.

I bring to you the story of Bill Iffrig, as reported by MSN. Yesterday, when we first learned about the bombing, my coworker and I watched some of the online coverage. We noticed Mr. Iffrig falling when the blast went off and wondered if the man (who is 78, per the article) was ok. What I learned today was that he was helped to his feet by a race official and walked to the finish line to get his time down, despite a scraped knee and what looks to be a very hard fall. And I’m glad he and whatever other racers did or could finish the race did indeed do so. Sometimes, we must be undeterred.

As we hold the murdered and injured in Boston in our thoughts and prayers, and resolve to fight violence when and where we can, we should also resolve to live our lives boldly—aware that life includes risk, but that limiting our lives by living in constant fear is even riskier.