Sighcology ~ Interesting Things Happen to Interesting People


Recently I discovered a note written by me to my aunt about a particularly stressful week I had undergone in 2001, while living in Phoenix. Actually, I had been living there about four years after I  had migrated from New Jersey.

Some of these pressures were minor; were some adventuresome; and some caused me to hyperventilate dramatically.
See if you can figure out which is which.

Sunday: When will I learn? When will I ever learn? You would think my age would have brought me some wisdom.  No, it was not to be so.
Doing laundry is not my favorite task, so, unlike today, as I pursue a more organized lifestyle, I would generally put it off as long as possible. Right after church, I returned home, saw the piles of clothes in my newly refurbished laundry room, sighed, kicked off my sandals, and put on my halo.
“Wait!” I mumbled. “If I have to do this noxious job, at least let me drink a cup of Gavalia Gourmet Hazelnut coffee to assuage my mental pain. And I’ll use my largest pint mug.”
Quite cheerfully, I brewed the coffee, toasted a whole-grain bagel, slathered on cream cheese with chives, and, as an afterthought, cut a few thin, succulent pieces of Nova lox to top my treat.

Carefully ~ remember, this was back in the days when falls and walls were part of my genetic balance problem ~ I balanced the treat on my mug as I headed back into the laundry room. Of course, I was extremely circumspect so as to not to spill hot black coffee on my bare feet.
Several pairs of underwear were lying about on the tile floor. You know the kind: satin and slippery? Totally unaware, I stepped on some and became airborne.

So did my breakfast. The high piles of clothes cushioned my fall; therefore the resultant bruises were not overly sore during the next week. Of course, the sandwich was harmless to my clothes, but the coffee was not. Ten days’ worth of clothing was instantly ruined.
Before re-doing breakfast, I frantically tried to take out the coffee stains. Walls and appliances were not a problem. However, no matter how hard I tried, the stains refused to be removed from two sets of objects: clothes, and the newly laid-down grout on my newly tiled floor.
Grumbling, I painted the unstained grout with the remaining coffee from the pot. “After all,” I reasoned, “the tan color sets off the white tiles so well. When I get home, I’ll paint clear varnish over the grout.”

Cursing softly and rhythmically, I began cleaning the appliances, windows, walls, and floor from the coffee, cream cheese and lox. The ruined clothes were unceremoniously dumped into the trash.
Then I went out for breakfast at my favorite diner. Sigh.
“Good thing I shop at Good Will.” I groused to my girlfriend, who worked at the diner. “So the cost of clothes’ replacement will be minimal.”

“Hey! I’m off at noon. I’ll come with you,” she said.
The clothes were duly replaced. Of course, being second-hand, they had to be washed. Sigh.
Sunday night: Granddaughter R ended up in the ER on this evening, around seven pm. She was using mom’s rather powerful treadmill and, at the same time, reading a high school science homework assignment. As the speed built up, she inadvertently snapped the electronic faster button while adjusting the book position. In an effort to steady the book, she lost her balance and became entangled within the treadmill. As she screamed in pain, we ran in and pulled the plug, but it was too late. R was intertwined and bleeding profusely. We could not free her. Her mom called the police and the First Aid Squad. Quickly and gently they extricated her and told us she would need to go to the Emergency Room. With mother and daughter in the ambulance, they left for the hospital, sirens screaming.

It had been decided I would stay home until my daughter called home to be picked up. Sunday nights in Phoenix ER’s are always exceptionally busy because of returning vacationers, and it was not unknown to  up to eight hours waiting to be treated. This way, I could drive the car over and pick them up.
I began mopping up the blood that had splattered over walls and ceiling, windows and curtains, and carpeted floors. It was almost as bad as the coffee stains.

Actually, R’s injuries were so severe she received immediate treatment and was ready to come home within an hour, complete with eight stitches, crutches, and a great deal of pain. As I didn’t have to be at work until Thursday, she spent the first part of the week out of school, sitting in the recliner at my home, and recovering enough to return to classes. My heart went out to her. As soon as she was able to use crutches and wheelchair during the next several weeks, she was driven to, and picked up from school with our autos. Sigh.
“I never thought I’d enjoy riding the bus,” she commented, when the devices were no longer necessary.
Thursday: Kingston, Arizona has been an important part of my personal history since 1940. During that autumn, my mother and I took a Greyhound Bus from New York City to California. Mom intended to divorce Dad and settle us there. We eventually returned to New York City.
Kingston’s high, straight cliffs, curving and undulating highway are fit for a roller coaster ride. Most of the old highway has been replaced by Interstate 8, but the roller coaster experience is still there. On the north side of old road, a service station, restaurant, tire store, and general store were crowded together just within the town’s western limits. These family-owned places along the old highway are still there since we first saw them so many years ago. Indeed, the hand cut rye bread sandwiches are STILL four inches high and still almost impossible to bite into. I prefer Jack-In-Box a few miles to the east. The restaurant remains an a cross-country bus stop.

One of the first programs scheduled by my museum to the remote places of Arizona was to be in Kingston. An appointment was made to take the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum program up to a remote elementary school in the mountain areas of Kingman to do three presentations of “Have Rocks ~ Will Travel”. The location was remote, and I had often picked minerals at a nearby mine in the past. The appointment made we wonder what other exotic places I would see in the future.
With high hopes, I left home at six AM in order to arrive at ten AM. The entire school, grades Kindergarten through eight, consisted of forty-five students. Does Kingman sound familiar? Some fella (a phrase used by many old-time Arizonans to denote “trouble maker”) by name of Timothy McVeigh, along with his cohort, lived for several years in these remote hills along with dozens of other misanthropic squatters. After checking into the police station, as was my wont when I went to out-of-the-way areas of Arizona, I was told it was quiet “up there”, and “there’s nothing to worry about.”
Little did I know what personal disaster the day would bring!
The programs went quite well, and I headed for home around two pm.
After wending my way down from the hills in the North Country, I came back to Interstate 8, passed my 1940 haunts, and stopped for well-deserved sustenance at a my favorite Kingston Jack-In-The-Box nearby. To my horror, I bit into a French fry and my front tooth, which had been having problems, broke off.
“Well,” I said to the owner. “There goes Friday.” Sigh.
By the following Friday, and nine hundred dollars later, I had new, solid gold hardware! Loverly (Thank you, Julie Andrews!). Sigh.
The dentist, a pal of mine, and I, had decided I could have bought a gorgeous ruby or sapphire ring set in 14K gold for this amount. However, we compromised by having the crown made of gold, covered with enamel. Dr. P absolutely refused to leave the tooth uncovered. “But I LIKE gold teeth! I protested. My parents and grandparents wore them with pride.”
Dr. P turned a deaf ear. “No. Side teeth and back teeth only. Period.”
He recalled what I had told him when I first became his patient: “If I ever win the lottery, I’m having all my teeth replaced with gold implants. And I’ll have a diamond set in the front tooth.” We stared at each other a moment, then laughed uproariously.
Sorrowfully, I acquiesced and permitted him to coat the front with white enamel.
Little did we know most of my teeth would have to be replaced as a result of a severe auto accident eight years later. Sigh.
After my northern trip, the next presentation was to a school in Sasabe, Southern Arizona. The town sat on the Mexican border and had many incidents involving illegal entrants. After reading the directions to get to the school, I was more than apprehensive.

I still treasure the directions I was given: “Go south to Tucson, turn west onto Ajo Way for 20 miles, turn south on the first state highway after the Denny’s. Make sure you take the paved road. Just go south to within a mile or so of the sign that says, “Mexico2 miles”. The Immigration officers will be waiting for you to let you know if it’s safe to proceed. The San Fernando Elementary School is the first large building on a rise you see on the left. The twenty three children, Grades three to eight, and their three teachers will be delighted to see you.”

Would you think it was going to be another sighcological experience? Well, everything turned out well. I have to admit being escorted by armed INS agents was different, but no incidents occurred. In fact, Sasabe became an annual trip.
Life is not always a sighcological experience!


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