Friday, April 18, 2008

Ring A Ding Ding

So, I was sitting in my cubicle yesterday ...

I still find the cubicle-thing funny, but let's not go there.

... and being on the top floor of my company's 5-floor building, my co-workers and I are in touch with roof-top action. Wind, hard rain, maintenance workers doing their thing, you name it, we hear it. I'd say it was about 3:00 or so, I heard a knock coming from above me. Then two or three more knocks - followed quickly by what sounded like 100 much louder knocks and bangs on the ceiling. I stopped typing and thought about it for a second. At first, I didn't know what to make of it. Was the roof collapsing? I had heard some thunder claps all afternoon and knew severe storms had been predicted but, was this perhaps beyond severe? Was this the Midwest moment I'd been waiting for? My first tornado? Listen, I'm not stupid enough to actually want to be in a tornado but there is a part of me that wants to see at least live one funnel cloud in my lifetime. Just a small manageable one that lasts for a few seconds and then dissipates before anyone is hurt.

Anyway, I popped up from my chair - that's one funny thing about working in a corporate multiple-cubicle situation. Heads pop up one at a time like that. And with the head-popping came one word - it's as though we all said it at once. H A I L.

The Gang's All Here - This wasn't the sugar-cube variety. I'm talking at least golf ball-size. Not as large as the hail in the pic on the left, but I thought that shot was kind of cool. The stones the other day were coming down pretty hard; I mean, they were pouring out of the sky - it was like snowfall. (Check out this YouTube Video - Amazing. At one point, our storm looked like this storm. You can see how dangerous this can be, so I don't mean to make light of it.)

Okay, so the second word, after HAIL, was - DEDUCTIBLE. Everyone at the office was thinking about their cars outside in the lot. These seasoned Midwesterners had been through this kind of thing many times before, you could tell. 'So much for my IRS rebate,' was all I could think as I headed toward a window to take a look. (That photo below is extreme, I know, but from what people were telling me, it's the kind of thing that can happen).

It's funny - since I bought my car, I've been careful (not crazy) about parking in carefully selected spaces to avoid other cars. I see people in parking lots all the time, whipping open their car doors, completely oblivious to the way the doors slam into neighboring cars, always leaving the mark of an a@*h#le. (sorry for the pseudo-profanity, but this stuff really gets me going) Of course, these are the types of folks who are often chatting away on their cell phones, so they rarely notice when their door inflicts that kind of damage to someone else's property. That kind of stuff drives me nuts so I choose to counter that scene by simply parking a little farther out in the lot and walking a few extra steps into the particular store or market. I mean, what's the big deal? And I'm killing two birds with one hail-stone - avoiding ding madness while getting a little more exercise. I call it good planning. Others would call it obsessive compulsive disorder.

With cars on all of our minds, a bunch of co-workers crowded into this guy Jack's office to watch the storm from his window, which, come to think of it, probably wasn't the smartest thing to do during such an event. I'd seen hail before, but this was different from the New England variety. The large white balls of ice streaked down from the dark gray sky, bouncing off the pavement and the cars below in the lot. It didn't look good.

"A few look like softballs" I heard one person shouting from down the hall.

Sure, most people were concerned about their cars (the folks who weren't lucky enough to have indoor parking) ... but in the back of my head, it wasn't so much my car I was thinking about. I was wondering - "Isn't this kind of intense hail the precursor to a trip down the yellow brick road?" I looked out over the horizon, watching for a dark wisp to drop from one of the the charcoal clouds. If I had seen that, I'm not quite sure what I would have done. Still, I looked.

Whew!! - After work, when I got close to my car, I kind of peered at it from a distance to see if I could see any unwanted dimples or, worse, but things appeared to be a-o-k. The fact is, so much rain water had collected on the car, I couldn't tell what was going on.

And that was that. I picked up a few hail-stones and started throwing pitches, doing my best to throw strikes at telephone pole about 25 feet away. I figured I had dodged a GEICO bullet and wanted to air out my arm a bit. It felt great.

Fast forward about 15 hours - heading back to work the next morning, listening to "Mike & Mike," driving south to Leawood and ... what is that? The morning sun doing something strange to the card hood's reflection in the windshield? I was hoping that was the case but hoping wasn't going to change the fact that, yes, those friggin' hail stones apparently didn't let me or, more importantly, my Vibe, completely off the hook. At least one of those things was large enough to speak its mind or, perhaps, it just hit at the right angle to push it's way into the metal and cause one of those beautiful dings.

And, sure enough, when I arrived at work and got out of the car to conduct a dry-version inspection, yep - there were a few more where that came from. Subtle - small - hardly noticeable at first glance. But, they were there.

Raising The White Flag - The moral of the story? If there is one, I suppose it's this: What's going to happen, is going happen. Wise words, huh? I mean, here I am making a little extra effort to practice ding-avoidance and look what happens. It's funny how mother nature has it's own way of leveling things out. There's simply no fighting what's going to find you anyway. That concept is becoming clearer and clearer to me each day that I live.

Having said that - what lesson did I really learn? I still chose to park under a tree that morning, figuring it might act as sort of a wind-break to provide at least, I don't know, a little shelter for the next hail extravaganza. Yeah - real smart. Under a tree?!?

Obviously, I have some ways to go - regarding the "no fighting it" concept.

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