Piling On

In The Naked Gun, there’s a wonderful scene where the bad guy has just been zapped by a dart from the hero, Lt. Frank Drebin. “He’ll be all right,” Drebin says, and he would have been –  if the bad guy didn’t proceed to then fall several stories onto the freeway and get run over by a bus. And a steamroller. And a marching band playing “Louie, Louie.”

Some weeks, there’s just no way to win.

This week, to be honest, has been a Louie, Louie week.

It started with a Saturday bug. It had to be Saturday, of course, since that was the one day guaranteed to shorten a Missy outing. With apologies, I took her home from lunch and sought the couch.

The couch and I then became close friends as “bug” turned to “cold” turned to a five-day-long “flu.” All the while, my lungs were turning into the cannons from the 1812 Overture, my body was shaking like a chicken that had been asked to cross I-25, and my sense of time was becoming about as reliable as a soap opera’s – lots of fade-ins and fade-outs, with the occasional flashback.

My first day of true recovery was met with ice everywhere, because there’s nothing that helps you bounce back from the flu like hastily clearing your car’s windshield in sub-freezing weather.

But the ever-helpful universe made sure that didn’t matter anyway. After one patch of icy road during a lunch break, I no longer had a car. No injuries, it’s true (thank heaven), but no transportation either.

As I listened for the sound of a marching band in the distance, I wondered if it was possible to take a week back for a refund. (If nothing else, I had a chance to beat the Super Bowl rush.)

What can you do?

We’ve all been there – the days and weeks when it seems like the world is personally out to get you. You know the thought is ridiculous, but as events accumulate like snowflakes in a blizzard, it stops mattering whether it’s purposeful or not. You just want the blessed train to stop, already.

And maybe a blizzard isn’t the worst comparison I could think of. Or a flood, or a fire, or some similar wide-scale natural disaster. Not because of the devastation it leaves. But because of the dependency it creates.

When a disaster gets extreme enough, you realize how many friends you really have.

When a week starts tipping over like a pile of dominoes, you realize how many co-workers stand ready to lend a hand. How many friends are willing to offer a ride. How many people are thinking of you and trying to come up with ways to make something better, even just a little, so that life can become normal again. (Particularly your long-suffering wife who’s watching the pile-up from the sidelines and figuring out how to extricate the survivors.)

That’s huge.

More than huge – that’s the definition of “friend.” And even “neighbor.”

It’s easier to forget that than it should be, in a world where “friends” are a way of keeping score on Facebook and social media seems to reward social discord. Those same channels can bring people together in common purpose, of course – few tools are so poor as to have only one edge – but it’s easy to get cynical and think that “neighbors” went out with Mister Rogers.

Until you get reminded otherwise. And reminded. And reminded.

That’s the best kind of parade.

So thank you, everyone. Now and in the future. As the good lieutenant says, I’ll be all right.

Just help me keep an eye on that freeway. It’s a long way down.

And you never do quite get “Louie, Louie” out of your head.

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