Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sleight of Hand Held

Bluffton Today Column
February 17, 2010

I was at an event a few months ago where I didn’t know the majority of the guests. There, I was introduced to a woman who said, “I think we’ve met before, I am friends with so-and-so.” Ah yes, I vaguely remember, “good to see you again!”
Two hours and one open bar later and vaguely familiar woman and I started chatting. Then, she leans in real close and says, “I heard all about what happened with you and your husband”. The shock of her statement prevented me from saying anything at the time (however in hindsight, I can think of plenty to say). So she proceeded to provide me with all of the details regarding my break-up with my ex-husband. Which by the way, I was already aware of. I mean, it was my story she was re-telling me.

Aaaaaaawkward.Ok almost stranger, now where do we go from here?

Utterly infelicitous social moments happen all the time. And it is how you handle those moments that probably define you best. So, in a rare moment of self-control, I swallowed back the lump in my throat, blinked back my tears, tilted back my drink, high-tailed it to the bathroom, and immediately commenced breathing exercises in order to prevent gasket blowing.

But, I am not usually so well-mannered.

In fact, I avoid awkward moments and unwanted conversations every day. Every day. It is a skill. One that has been made universally easier now that we all posses a Blackberry, an iPhone, or whatever latest handheld technology suits us best. “Handheld” being the operative term here; because we are always clutching our devices in our sweaty little palms. We can’t put them down. We’re addicted. But, that’s ok. This obsession allows us to much more deftly perform a well-executed technology duck, or as my brilliant colleague dubbed it, the “tuck.”

You know the move. When someone that you have very little interest in speaking with, much less spending any quality time with, approaches and you raise your handheld device to eye-level and immediately begin pushing buttons. If you are lucky the phone will actually ring. If not, you can continue to pretend that you are taking some very important emails.

The “tuck” effectively deters any extraneous conversations. It also provides a security blanket. Meeting someone for drinks and you don’t want to walk into the restaurant alone? You’re not alone! Just hold up your handheld and it will be clear to everyone that you are concluding a very important business exchange, not a single woman hoping you haven’t been stood up.

This phenomenon is taking over society. In fact, 3,479,414 people are fans of “Pretending to Text in Awkward Situations” on Facebook.

In the old days, back when we used to walk up hill (both ways), barefoot in the snow, to get to school, we actually had to look someone in the eye and say, “I’m not interested.” Or, “please stop talking about that.” Or, “I’m not sure this is appropriate.”

Today however, thanks to the brilliance of the computer club kids (who walked up hill both ways with us), we can simply lift up our handheld and declare to the world with dexterous thumbs that text forty words a minute and declare, “I don’t give a damn what you have to say!”

Ironically, with the technology to text and email we are saying more … but communicating less.

P.S. I am still searching for the “friend” who shared all of the details of my life with an utter stranger. Of course, once I figure out who you are, and when I bump into you again, you can be certain that I will deliver a big ol’ tuck (to) you.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Not a People Person Per Se?

Bluffton Today Column
February 3, 2010

While watching a segment on Inside Edition last Monday, I totally lost it. I cried my eyes out while a fire fighter rescued a German shepherd who was caught in the raging waters of the California floods. As the fire fighter, via helicopter, was lowered into the water to save the pup, I couldn’t control my sobs. And this was a happy ending!

The next story was about Haiti and the 150,000 lives lost and how they were burning bodies in the street just to get rid of the stench. And oddly, I didn’t shed a tear.

So, it begs the question. Am I a heartless you know what?

I pondered that question that evening and into the next morning when, while packing my lunch for work, I heard my cat Skye vomiting in the living room.

Skye puking was not a normal occurrence, but she has, on occasion scarfed down her food so fast that it has come right back up again. So, I was not alarmed. Until I got to the living room, where I found my sweet girl vomiting, shaking, struggling for breath and balance.

As her legs went limp beneath her I lost it. My dog, Darby, sat close with his eyes darting back and forth from me to Skye as if to say, “Mom, what are you going to do now?”

Well, as any good “mom” would do, I called my Mom to ask her what to do. The sobbing commenced again as I told her that I thought I was watching Skye die in front of me. And, luckily my Mom snapped me into reality and yelled to call the vet. Duh!

I called Bluffton Vet’s emergency line and Dr. Davison called me back immediately and told me to head right over. I put Skye in her carrier, and paused for a moment by the door while Darby gave Skye one last sniff. I guess I subconsciously had a feeling it might be the last time he saw her.

When I got to the Vet’s office they whisked Skye into the back and immediately started an IV and began a battery of tests. It happened so quickly that I never took the time to consider what the outcome would be. I guess I hoped it was a virus, the kitty flu, something treatable and I would walk out with a prescription and my Skye.

Unfortunately that is not how this story ends. I had to say goodbye to Skye with little warning and no preparation. They gently brought her back to me so I could say my goodbyes. I whispered in her ear and told her about when I first brought her home fourteen years ago, and how she used to sleep right on my chest. I reminded her that I loved her, that she was my first “baby” and will always hold a special place in my heart. And, I apologized for yelling at her the night before when she missed the litter box. That was utterly heartbreaking. If I had known I would be saying goodbye, I would have cuddled her next to me all night and given her the pillow that Darby has since claimed as his own. (He’s pretty lonely these days.)

Skye drifted to sleep, with my hand on her head, and my nose to hers. There I was again, a mere fourteen hours after the Inside Edition incident, crying like my heart was breaking. And, it was.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Bob Bromage: Cold Case Files

CH2/CB2, February 2010

At first glance, he is your typical cop. Cop hair. Cut short, a sprinkle of salt among the pepper. Cop shirt. Tan not white. Cop tie. Tan and green—no contrasting colors.

At second glance, Captain Bob Bromage is all business. In his twentieth year with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, Bromage is Criminal Investigations Branch Commander, responsible for all detailed and technical criminal investigations not assigned to the Enforcement (Uniformed) Patrol.

Originally from Connecticut, Bromage entered the Army after High School and was stationed in Savannah, where he became familiar with the Lowcountry and Beaufort County. After leaving the Army, he moved back North and began his search for a position in law enforcement with the Connecticut State Police. At the time, however, available positions were few and far between, and a job posting would attract 2,000 applications. Rather than waiting to be the needle found in the hay stack, Bromage journeyed south once again and was hired in 1990 as a patrolman for Beaufort County, working the midnight shift.