It all started last Thursday…

“Gaaack!” I hollered. “Drat!”

“Meow?” came from the other side of the door, followed by the muffled sound of a pair of kitty paws trying to pull the door open. I’m not sure what my little buddy, Fruitloop, would have done to help, he not having opposible thumbs and all. Not that I was in a life-threatening situation, mind you, I was just irritated.

Me in the shower, my glasses in the sink, I’d grabbed the conditioner instead of the shampoo. “Gaaaaah!” I hissed through clenched teeth.

It was Thursday. I could tell without even looking. Thursday mornings are difficult for me. You see, the weekly jam at the Chesterfield is Wednesday night. That means I’m often facing Thursday mornings through a mere five hours of sleep and a slight headache. A person gets to an age eventually where five hours of sleep and a slight headache really sucks.

I rinsed the errant conditioner out of my hair, quietly mumbling near-obscenities though my teeth, and eventually finished my morning carcass-scrubbing routine and managed to dress myself with a minimum of fuss. “The time is now 8:57,” said the nice man on the radio. “Drat,” I said to Fruitloop, scratching him on the chin. “I’m already an hour late…” Thankfully my bosses are tolerant – they know I’m out late Wednesdays playing bass and taking photos and sipping on the occasional beer – but I still like to get to work by eight if I can. I threw my boots on, grabbed my coat and WHOOM out the door goes the hippie.

Keys in hand I open the car door. Cold! I started the car, groped around in the back seat for the ice scraper, and then back out into the cold to scrape, scrape, scrape the windows. I glance at my phone – 8:58. I might yet make it to work by nine (it’s a small town). I turn back to the car and grab the handle to open the door and WHAT THE HECK?

I found myself staring bemusedly at the car door handle in my hand. Yes, it broke off. Hmmm…

“Okay,” I thought to myself, “you’ll just have to crawl over the back seat or something.” No problem. Except that all three other doors were locked. With the keys in the ignition. Engine running.

Well, poop. “Okay,” I thought to myself, “you’ll just have to call your wife and have her come and unlock the passenger door.” No sooner said than done. “Beep beep boop beep,” went the phone, my frozen fingers dancing across the numbers. “Ring, ring, ring.” No answer. Drat. She must be in a meeting. Now what?

I called work. “Hi,” I said. “This is Chris. I’ve broken the handle off my car door. All the other doors are locked. I’ll probably be a bit later than anticipated this morning.”

“You’re only a few blocks away,” the lady at work said. “Why don’t you just walk to work and figure this out later?”

“Well,” I replied, shivering a bit, “because the car’s running. I can’t very well leave my car idling in the middle of the street all day…”

“Oh,” she said. “You’re probably right.”

As I pushed the “hang up” button on my cell phone I realized I still had my ice scraper in my other hand. I looked at the car door. You know, it’s not ALL the way shut… Not quite knowing what else to do, I started beating my car with a stick, poking at the door, pounding on the roof… Sure enough, the door popped open! Wheee! The joys of driving a rustbucket! (The car’s got just under 200,000 miles on this engine – no one quite knows how many miles the poor body’s been through.)

I jumped in the now-warm car and off to work I went!

By 9:11 a.m. I was in the office, turning on various computers, printers, scanners, and platemakers, wondering why the other guy hadn’t turned ’em all on yet. “Car problems again?” asked my boss as I waited for all the equipment to come on-line. Before I could answer he continued, “The other guy’s sick. He’s not coming in today. The network is down. The lady in New Jersey FTP’d that post card to us – we need to get it off the server and plated right away.”

“How do I get it off the server if our network is down?” I asked.

“I don’t care,” the boss replied. “Just get it done.”

“I’m gonna have to call the IT guy in,” I said. “I don’t know how to fix the network…” The boss promptly told me that there was no way in blazes he was gonna call in some IT guy and pay him two-hundred bucks just to push a button.

So, there I stood, in the back room, staring at a mound of cables and cords, wondering just where the network actually lived… I grabbed an anonymous-looking box at random and unplugged it. I stood there, wondering how long I should wait before plugging it back in, when the thought struck me, “Why not just unplug EVERYTHING for a few minutes? That should re-boot whatever it is that needs re-booted.”

Well, that didn’t work, but it sure got everyone’s attention.

I tossed the problem back to the boss. He unplugged the router. He unplugged the modem. He turned off that beige box no one can identify. No luck. He swore. He even told someone else to try it. Nothing. We stood there, wiggling cords.

Three hours later the IT guy showed up… He pushed a button and everything sprang back to life, e-mail mailed, browsers browsed, life was good again.

But… this left me a mere three and a half hours to get my eight hours of work done as well as my absent cohort’s eight hours of work (he called in sick, remember). But somehow I managed, headache and all. By five-thirty I was home. By six-thirty I was in bed.

That was last Thursday. Today is Wednesday. I have to admit, I’m dreading tomorrow.

The Politics of Hate

You know, I really don’t want to hate anyone. It’s not my style. I’m not much good at it. But I want to be patriotic; I love America, so they tell me I have to hate people.

If I don’t hate Muslims I’m unpatriotic.

If I don’t hate the Mexicans I’m anti-American.

If I don’t hate homosexuals I must not care about family values.

I would like to stand up at this point and say, loudly, “BULLPUCKY!” I don’t have to hate Muslims to support the fight against terrorism. I don’t have to hate Mexicans to understand immigration problems. Homosexuals do not threaten me, my family, or my way of life. I don’t have to hate them, either. I am NOT going to start hating my neighbors for being different. I’m just not going to do it.

Hate slithers under our door in unexpected guises, and is hard to recognize at times. Before you hit “Forward” on that joke someone e-mailed you, take another look at it. Is there an undercurrent of hate there? I’d be willing to bet there is, especially if the joke is at all political.

Let me posit this… Jesus taught tolerance and forgiveness. Our nation was founded on the belief that ALL of us are equal. By claiming moral superiority over another human being, don’t we go against Christianity AND America? Don’t we lose a little bit of our soul every time we denigrate another person, race, heritage?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not soft in the head. I know there are terrorists out there who want to kill us. But I also know there are a LOT of people out there who don’t, and don’t deserve our hatred.

I’ve heard a lot of self-righteous chest-thumping about how John Wayne wouldn’t stand for being told to “press 1 for English,” and there’s some validity there — but racism and hatred isn’t the answer. (Where did YOUR grandparents come from? Chances are they came to America in a wave of immigrants, and chances are they were hated and feared by those who had arrived here fifty years earlier. Did you know that the national language is English due to one single vote? Our founding fathers nearly decided to go with German…) Should immigrants learn English? Yes. Should we be compassionate while they learn? Yes. America is growing and changing — that’s a fact that makes a lot of us, myself included, a little uncomfortable. But we need to pull immigrants into our society, not push them away with hate and spite.

I’m not saying we should all gather in a circle and sing “Kum Ba Yah” at each other, but I am saying that I’m not going to hate people simply because it’s politically expedient, or to go along with the crowd. It’s my way of being American. Please don’t hate me for it.

Thank you for your attention.

If you’re reading this on Facebook, you can see the original blog at www.radloffs.net, click on “Blog.”

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