26 August 2008

The Drowned Rat Days of Summer

In some places they may have the Dog Days of Summer, those long, hot, humid days at the end of August when everything moves slowly and the evenings are warm and muggy. Not so in Seattle this year. In the past week, we've had over 2" of rain, complete with thunder and lighting storms, downpours followed by sun spots and mostly large, black clouds that just keep rolling over the skyline. I sit in my 11th floor office gazing out at the Space Needle (when I can see it) and am amazed at this beautiful thing called WEATHER. Welcome to what I have now come to know as the Drowned Rat Days of Summer. What makes it special for me is that I get to ride my bicycle to work and back almost every day. What a great way to spend my time. Yesterday, everybody came into work complaining about how long it took them to get to work in that nasty traffic. Sorry, folks, I didn't notice.

Well, last night certainly was an interesting commute home. It had been dry and in the mid-50's in the morning, with predictions of "just a few LIGHT showers" in the forecast. About 4:00, I saw this huge wall of water working its way across Puget Sound, accompanied by these brilliant lightning strikes. I watched this marvel move across downtown and it was going-home-time. Not really wanting to become a ligthing rod, I waited almost an hour and rode out on the tailing edge of the storm, after the lightning was done and the thunder had moved off to the southeast (over my house by then). It was still raining hard, and before I got to 12th and Jackson I was starting to feel bits of water seeping into my shoes. I could have gone straight home, but it was relatively warm at 58 degrees, so figured I might as well head down to the lake and play in the puddles for a while since I was gonna be drenched no matter what. So I crossed over on the I-90 trail chatting with a guy who lives near Seward Park and also rides every day. He headed south while I headed north out of the tunnel, and I dropped down into Leschi. I was tempted to stop for a hot chocolate, but all of a sudden the sun came out so figured I'd best hang with it while I had a break in the clouds. Going south along the lake, I got this really beautiful evening sky with a double full rainbow in the east and a sliver of a 3rd smaller one just above the lake. At one point, I felt like I was riding in the middle of the rainbow. I figured that was the pot of gold, it was so pretty out. Then the sun went away, another black cloud came over and without the fanfare of thunder and lighting, the skies opened up on me once more just as I was coming into Seward Park. I had been figuring on maybe doing a little park loop just for giggles, but with the rain really coming down with full force now, thought better of that plan as my feet were now squishing in my shoes and the temp had dropped 4 degrees. I climbed the hill west of the park and dropped down to Rainier Beach, where the sun once again decided to make a brief appearance. As I headed west on Henderson, the sun was bright and in my face. It was blindingly bright and I worried a bit that cars behind me couldn't see me, so had to be a little extra cautious, but not for long, as the sun disappeared behind yet another dark and ominous cloud just as I started up Carkeek Blvd, and by the time I made it up to the top of Beacon Hill, it was starting again. By the time I made my right turn onto S. Rose Street, it was coming down pretty good again, and I was just hoping that my garage remote would still work, since it was in my jersey pocket and I wasn't sure how dry it was. Luckily, the door opened on cue, I bounced the gate open with the front wheel, and rode into the warm, dry garage. After a quick wiping down of Cayuse, I grabbed my gear and made my way into the house where Mimi had made a big batch of my favorite comfort food, macaroni and cheese, and within a few minutes, I was enjoying a nice hot meal and watching Monday Nite Football.

This morning as Mimi and I rode out into the nearly dark morning, it occurred to me that I should have lubed the chain. Gotta remember to do that tonite. At least all my lights are working. It won't be long before I need them to see, not just be seen.

08 August 2008

Life's Little Curveballs

Sometimes, life throws us little curveballs.

Insurance claims work is usually pretty dry, distant, detached work. We get claims in, investigate them, process them, and either pay or deny them. We deal a lot with attorneys, doctors, accountants, forensic experts, police and fire departments, and other investigative types. Our claimants range anywhere from apologetic because they have cost the insurance company money and are afraid we're going to cancel them now, to angry and demanding that we pay them, no matter how outrageous their claim may be just because they paid us a premium for something.

Well, this morning, I received a most interesting phone call. The man's name was Lonnie, no last name given. He started by saying he wasn't sure who he should be talking to, but started into this story about how in 1970 or so he had insurance he thought through Fireman's Fund. He said he'd gone to a local agent and because of his driving record, he was placed into a pool and he thought it was Fireman's Fund they placed him with, and during that year, he'd had two incidents occur. The first one was an accident in which he hit 3 dogs that ran out in front of him. Because of how he hit one of the dogs, it damaged a piece of sheet metal under the front bumper of his GTO. He never got it fixed. Later, he had an accident in which he struck another vehicle, causing damage to his own car as well, and he filed a claim. When he went to the shop, he had them add that piece of metal into the repairs and charged the insurance company for it as part of the claim. He knew it was wrong, but did it anyway.

Having heard his story, I told him I thought fate was a funny thing, and that I believed he had called exactly the correct person, because while I couldn't do anything about the claim, I was in a place to talk to him about what was really going on. I was able to disclose a little of my own life through 12-step recovery and we talked about the process of making amends, seeking forgiveness, granting forgiveness and making right our wrongs, cleaning up the wreckage of our past. So for the next 20 minutes, we talked about life, the surgery he is facing next week and in the end, I instructed him to put an extra $20 in the collection plate the next time it comes around, forgive the next person who does him a wrong without their having to ask for that forgiveness and consider the matter done, granted him forgiveness of the debt on behalf of Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, and advised him that the statute of limitations was long since expired for something that occurred in 1970.

He was a little surprised when I thanked him for calling me. He didn't understand. I had to explain that having been on his end of that phone call so many times in my own amends making process, it is a true gift from God when I get placed in a position to be on this end of the phone call for a change. He chuckled, with a little different understanding. We then talked a little about confession and living our lives in accordance with a higher set of principles and we both hung up wishing each other a good weekend.

This is how I pictured my new friend as I was talking to him:

picture credit: Mimi Torchia-Boothby ( www.mimitabby.com )

Life's little curveballs sometimes end up being home runs.