Thursday, September 17, 2015

Life is too short

Where to start? I have been busy for work, but for assorted reasons I've not been able to travel pretty on most of those trips. Yeah, I realize that I say that on more blogs than not these days, but hey; it is what it is.

I turned 50 years old a few days ago and I'm less than thrilled about it. My daughter asked me why I was unhappy that it was my birthday.
All ready.
Damn it, didn't I just have one of these?!
I tried to explain it as best as I could to a 12 year old.
"Well let's see. You look forward to turning thirteen because, hey, now you're a teenager. Girls look forward to their 16th birthday though I'm not entirely certain what that is all about. You look forward to 18 because you are now legally an adult. You look forward to 21 because you can now buy alcohol. After that, you don't look forward to your birthdays so much. At 30 you sort of lose the claim to being young, though you aren't considered old yet. At 40, all doubt is now removed; you are not young any more. This is when a lot of people have mid-life crises and do stupid things like buying little red mustangs when they have two children that can’t possibly ride in it comfortably. 50? Yeah, 50 sucks. You are no longer just 'not young'; you are now officially old."
So. Yeah, I just turned 50. Shit.

You saw the comment I made earlier about doing stupid things like buying a little mustang when you have a family that needs to fit into the car from time to time? Yeah, we fixed that a couple of weeks ago and went out and bought a lightly used Buick LaCrosse. Never had a Buick before but it is a darn fine car - probably the finest car we have ever owned. We once had a Chrysler 300M and loved the hell out of it, and I think that I would put this Buick into the same league with that car. I haven't had the chance to drive it much though, because I have been leaving it with my wife so that she can drive something nice while I'm on the road.

About a week ago, my daughter and her best friend had been out riding their bikes, and they came inside to cool off for a while. After about ten minutes, they went back outside, then came running right back in the door. In the brief period that they had been inside, someone walked through our yard and up alongside our house and stole both bikes. Broad daylight, people in the house, and they walked right up into our yard and broke the hearts of two little girls. I've had bikes stolen before and it has been my experience that you never get them back, so I didn't bother getting all worked up, or go running around the neighborhood looking for them. The other little girl’s father wasn't so fatalistic though, and he spent the next couple of days looking for the bikes. A few days later, we were all sitting around the table talking while we waited for pizza to be delivered, when there was a frantic knock on the door. It was my daughters best friend, and in between gasps for breath, she managed to explain that she and her father had been out looking for the bikes when someone rode right past them on hers. They followed the kid home where her father, a pretty big guy, confronted the kid with her bike. That's where I stopped her.
"Hold on. Your father is there right now by himself?!" I asked her. She gulped before replying.
"Ok, we can get the details later, but let's go. Show me the way!"
She took off in a flash, and I all but ran after her, relieved to see my father in law jump up and head out the door right behind me. I was active duty army for over a decade, but I was a technician and so don't know squat about self-defense. My father in law is over 70, but he does know how to take care of himself so I was happy to have him behind me. As we quickly walked up the block behind the girls, I found myself getting madder and madder and was fully prepared to make sure that the thief went to jail today. They had hurt two little girls, one of which is my little princess, and that is a no-no in my book. Much to my own surprise though, my anger all but vanished as I turned the corner and found four cop cars parked up and down the street and saw two scared little boys sitting in the curb, looking utterly terrified. I remember when my brother and I were about that age and we had broken into a community center and were running up and down the hallways sliding on the floor. We broke nothing, and we stole nothing, but there was no doubt that we were doing wrong. We went slamming though one door too many and suddenly had a sheriff grabbing us by the collar. Right then and there we could have entered the legal system and our lives could have been so different. No charges were pressed though, and we received a second chance. Don't get me wrong, we got our butts blistered by our parents, but we didn't have to tangle with the legal system.
Seeing these two boys sitting there on the curb, all I could see was my brother and I in the back of that sheriffs car. . .
While we waited for the two boys parents to arrive, I spoke at length with several of the officers there and confirmed that the boys had never been in trouble before. As I stood there, i found myself imagining the immediate future of the boys and their families. Getting the kids out of jail today. Tens of thousands of dollars on lawyers and legal fees. Possibly the start of a downhill slide for the kids and their families as these things have a way of snowballing. As mad as I was, I didn't want that, but I wasn't sure that letting the kids off with no consequences was going to be in their long term best interests either. If they learned nothing, then they might continue to do this sort of thing. Since I figured that he saw this sort of thing more often than I did, I asked the officer I was talking to what he thought was in the long term best interests of the boys. He just told me that he wasn't allowed to advise me on that, but he did repeat that the boys had never been in trouble before, so I considered that a hint.
"All right," I said with a deep sigh, "I don't feel the need to press charges. We'll let their parents take care of it, but I do want to see them both apologize to the young ladies that they hurt."
"Oh yeah, we can definitely make that happen!" The officer said with a huge grin that told me that he thought that I was doing the right thing.
I hope that I did the right thing but I'm not sure. With any luck, their parents handled the situation in such a way that the boys didn't get off Scott free. . .

So let's see. Last year my father in laws truck was stolen from my front yard while he and I were working in the back yard. Now my daughters bike was stolen from alongside our home, in broad daylight, and with us all in the house. Yeah, I bought a security camera system with 8 cameras that have night vision and I will be installing them this week.

So I finally got around to making a trip pretty. It had been so long that I'd have to admit that I was fairly nervous about it, but I did it anyway. I wore a pair of heels that I hadn't worn in probably three years or more. They have either 4 or 5 inch heels. I dunno because I've never bothered to measure them. They felt fine the entire day that I wore them, but I'll tell you what - my legs were killing me the next day! I don't recall ever having my legs hurt from wearing heels before, but there you have it. I started to think that maybe it was time to start wearing flats, but then the right answer occurred to me; clearly I need to wear my heels more often to get my legs in shape!

I was impressed when the Avis shuttle bus arrived to take me to the lot. These drivers rarely offer to help these days, but this gentleman insisted and wouldn't take no for an answer. When we arrived at the lot, he again insisted on getting my bags and even loading them into the car for me, despite my repeatedly telling him that I could take care of them myself. Cool!
There I was, riding high and feeling good when the lady at the hotel called me "sir" while I was checking in and almost ruined my good mood.

I was working at Ford on this trip, and almost felt guilty that I had sold my new mustang to buy a Buick. We will let that be our little secret while working at Ford though.

At lunch one afternoon, we got to talking about staying in shape while getting older. The man I was working with is ten years older than I am and looks ten years younger than I do. That just doesn't strike me as fair, but what can you do? Anyway, at some point in this conversation his colleague said something about how you could tell some actors had gotten face lifts, and then he almost spit his food out on the table from laughing at what he was about to say.
"Yeah, like Caitlyn Jenner. Now that's a hell of a face lift!" Hard to argue with that, so I let it slide, but this did move the conversation onto the category of transgender.
"Yeah, I actually know one or two transgender people." I told them, trying not to choke on the major understatement. "All I can say is that life is short, so if that is how you're happy, I'd say go for it!"
Much to my relief and surprise, both men nodded in agreement.
"I know a couple myself," replied Bob, the man I was working with there. "We had one guy that started living as a woman just a couple of months after graduation. I've seen him, well, her, several times since then and you would never know that she used to be a guy. I've got to say though, that I've heard some E.R. stories from my wife that make me shudder. They had a transgender in there just little while ago. She was just walking along when someone decided to get offended about her and just slugged her in the kidneys."
Awesome, just what I wanted to hear. NOT.

I rarely fly home pretty as it is a pain in the butt to change back into boy mode at the airport, but I decided I'd give it a whirl today. I’m writing this blog while flying from Detroit to Chicago where I have a three hour layover, and so far the worst thing that has happened is that a guy in first class kept glaring at me as I was walking past to get into the coach section. Like I said though, life is short. He can spend it glaring, and I'll spend it making the best of it.