Little Scares

We've had some truly beautiful mornings of late, cool air and clear blue skies. I love this time of year when the weather begins to transition from oppressive heat to more reasonable temperatures. So caught up in the perfect conditions of my morning commute as I sailed down a side road on my way to work, I was quite startled to see a police car in my rearview mirror.

Mind you, I've been exceptionally cautious ever since the one time I actually did get a speeding ticket. “Why are you so nervous when you see cops? Police are our friends!” is what my mom always says when I'm driving and react in an odd way to seeing a cop, such as telling her to “be cool!” as I slow down by easing my foot off the gas pedal, a pointless action when one considers I'm not speeding to begin with. Even if I'm doing nothing wrong, I don't like having a police car in my rearview mirror, and I'm glad when they pass me.

Though I've been pulled over only once, it's not the only time I've pulled over. Once in college, I noticed the flashing lights of a state trooper as I was heading home on a parkway. I immediately took the next exit, with him close on my tail. I made a right on red, and pulled in to the first parking lot, which happened to be their headquarters. I parked, he drove right past and parked by the building, and went inside without giving me a second look. Maybe the lights were just to let him get around me, or maybe he was messing with me like one of the Super Troopers. In any case, I was glad it turned out to be a false alarm.

Which brings us back to this Thursday morning, when the lights began to flicker on the roof of the cruiser behind me. It was just the end lights, and there was no siren, and I wasn't sure what that meant. Then the whole bar lit up as well as the lights in the radiator, so I pulled to the curb. I was sure I was driving within the limit, and reasonably sure I come to a semi-full stop at the last stop sign. Could he really be enforcing stop signs and looking for “stop-tional” offenders? A buddy of mine got pulled over by a motorcycle cop in the area for having tinted windows, and after seven years without complaint, suddenly had to go home and scrape off the tinting. The police in that area can be tough.

Of course, this officer just wanted to pass me, and sailed right by. I felt a rush of relief, and knew that would be the last time something scared me for the day, a thought guaranteed to jinx me. Indeed, a somewhat busy and productive day ended on an interesting note, when I proceeded to check my files back in to the server. We use a database system that “locks” files so other people won't be able to overwrite what we do while we're working on them. When a file checks in the icon will usually change to a little thumbnail preview, so I can see that my work has been recorded. On this occasion, it displayed a blank page, scare #2 for the day.

When files check in, they're deleted from the user's desktop. Fortunately, years of double work from computer crashes and other obstacles taught me to always keep a backup in another folder. I checked the blank file out, replaced it with one of my backup copies, and checked it back in, at which point it reverted to a blank page. Again. After a few more tries I e-mailed our support staff, and by a little after 5 PM was notified that they were working on the problem, and that I should continue working from my desktop for the time being. By 5:30 I was ready to go for a nice stress-relieving run at the gym, when one of the executives showed up with revisions on an important new ad. Since we're getting out early on Friday and she'll be out for the next two weeks, I opted to stay and finish it rather than tackle it in the morning. I considered skipping the gym but knew I needed to get in at least a little exercise.

So, it was quite dark when I finished my workout. I flipped open my cell phone and called my dad to let him know I was running late. As I rounded the corner from the parking lot toward the street where I was parked, something small darted across the sidewalk into some wood chips. “What's the matter?” asked my dad, but I wasn't answering, straining to focus in the dark. Was it a mouse or a rat? My eyes couldn't separate it from the wood until it jumped again, at which point I thought it was a large black cricket. Then I saw another one, and another. Some wood chips were wood chips, while others were...alive. In the light cast by a passing car, I caught a glimpse of the bulbous eyes, spotted complexion, and slimy frame of a little frog. I had no idea how many there were, and had no desire to step on any of them in the dark, and so had to double back to the parking lot and walk out in to the street to approach my car. At this point, I remembered my dad was still on the phone, and let him know everything was fine and that I was on my way.

Life is full of little surprises, sometimes all on the same day.


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