Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mountains and Mole Hills.

Yesterday I was in a crabby mood because the garage door opener in my car has a dead battery. It's one of those fancy, special batteries that requires you to go over the river and through the woods (read: not in the kitchen "junk drawer") to replace.  


The whole act of getting out of my car, manually opening the garage, and then getting back in my car and driving in was just too much for me to bear.

Oh me, oh my.

When I grumbled to Harry about it, he just stared at me exactly like Rhett Butler used to stare ol' entitled Scarlett O'hara like 99% of the time. And whenever he does that, I almost always get a grip. But not yesterday.

"I need you to get me a battery."

To which he Rhett-butted me again.  0_0

"I feel like this falls under a sweet-husband-daddy category. You should do this for me."

And at this point he just decided to ignore me because he knew where I'd be going next. To my utterly nonsensical list of sweet-husband-daddy jobs that for zero logic-based reasons I have decided fall squarely on his shoulders. Especially considering he's the only sweet-husband-daddy in the house. This list includes but is not limited to:

  • Changing the weird lithium battery on my garage door opener
  • Getting my tires rotated on my car.
  • Taking the boys to the barber shop.
  • Cleaning off the deck.
  • Removing training wheels from bicycles.
  • Squashing scary Georgia monstrous-sized palmetto bugs (that to me look like human-sized roaches)
  • Telling me that I look hot at least 7.6 times per week.
  • Washing the most disgusting pots after I've cooked.
  • Exploring all sounds and smells (which in a house built in the 1920's is requested often.)
  • Telling me that I am the best wive EVAHHHH at least 8.9 times per week.
  • Enforcing bedtime 

Harry has pretty much nailed most of this list. But for whatever reason he continues to resist getting my tires rotated and the weird lithium battery changing.


I continued my whine-fest and marched out of the house. I could overhear Harry mumbling something about people out here with "real problems." Oh, and as a person who works as a property investor, he certainly sees the people with "real problems" -- especially in this economy.

That didn't stop me from pouting though.

Oh. Remind me to tell you guys about how FUTILE it is to complain about anything AT ALL to a former Army Ranger dude. Wait, where was I? Oh, leaving home and fooling with that non-working clicker. Yeah, so I was particularly annoyed when I had to do the manual thing to get out of the garage again. I sure did proceed to give my husband the most Scarlett O' Hairy eyeball I could as I pulled out of there. And so what if he didn't see it, it sure did make me feel better.

I perked up a bit when I got to Grady, which is usually the case. I worked with Carmen M., who I 100% adore and Jason, who probably qualifies as being like a work-sibling to me.  We laughed and learned and taught the residents cool things. The energy was great and, as always, so were the patients. Somewhere in the back of my head, I kept thinking about my interaction with my husband before I left home. I remembered Harry muttering about people and "real problems" and felt a teeny, tiny bit embarrassed by my little rant.


Well. . . just as I was feeling that way, I stepped into a room with a resident to see this Grady almost-elder who, despite her age, still worked a full time job. Night shift even. Why? "To keep the lights on."  Anyways. This woman starts telling us about these pains that she's having, and none of them are really correlating with any physical findings. Her labs and tests looked great, and so did she.

So what was up with all this pain? Could it be a manifestation of anxiety or depression? I wasn't sure. From there  I start asking her questions about her life. What do you do? What is it like for you? Are you under stress? How would you describe your day to day life?

And then she shared. Just one tiny piece of her life and boy was it telling.

"I work for 911 dispatch, and it's real, real stressful sometime."

911 dispatch? Damn. I'd never met a person who did this, especially in inner-city Atlanta. Well, this sixty-something year-old woman did just that. She sits at a bank of phones and takes call after call, all night long, from people in emergency situations. All night long. To make ends meet.  To pay the bills.

"It's real hard, sometime. I done heard it all. One night somebody having a heart attack. Another day somebody got shot at. This one lady was on the phone with me and I heard somebody doin' a home invasion on her. She was jest screamin' and screamin'. I wonted to help her so bad but I couldn't, you know? You could hear her door cracking clean off the hinge."

I kept listening.

And so she commenced to tell me all about how hard it is to hold on the phone while people are getting robbed or having life threatening illnesses or  getting the crap kicked out of them by someone who allegedly loves them. That's her job. To hold the receiver and repeatedly tell someone that "it will be okay" or that "someone is on the way." She does this job in a major metropolitan city where someone is not always as "on the way" as one might hope. But these days, according to this patient, things are worse. She explained that she's "been doin' this a long time and ain't never seent it get this bad" and that "folks ain't got nothin' to live for and it's so bad that they don't even care what happen if they do somethin'."

I started biting my cheek listening to her sharing all of this and trying very hard not to think of the truth behind Harry's snarky reply earlier that morning:

"It's people out here with some real problems."

And like the pop of a rubber band I was snapped into reality of what it actually means to have a "problem." Mine that morning seemed a little dumb in comparison. More than a little dumb, actually.

I could go on to talk about how shitty it is to be nearly seventy and required to work this hard. How sad it makes me that she can't work in her garden or hug on her grandbabies all day instead of sleep before her next shift. I could tell you about how she heard someone getting beaten horribly by her spouse and begging for her to help just one day before and how troubled she felt when that woman stopped talking. How my patient wanted to cry or hang up or both because she feared that the worst had happened, but how she couldn't because it's her job and it has benefits and how she didn't because, honestly, isn't this what she hears every single day?  I could go on and tell you all of that . . . but I won't.

Instead I'll just say that in the grand scheme of life and issues, that maybe I needed that stinging snap on my wrist.  Kind of like a nice clean slap across the face like Scarlett O'Hara needed (and if I'm not mistaken actually got.)

No. I don't trivialize every single aspect of my own life and its little mini-hurdles. But I do force myself to take pause more often. . . .shaking my head at the enormity of mountains existing in the midst of my mole hills.  Grady sure helps me with that. And I'm learning that it's a whole lot easier to move mole hills than mountains.

On the way home that evening, I stopped and picked up a dime-sized lithium replacement battery for my garage door opener. It cost me $3.29 and actually was right there in my neighborhood Kroger.


Mole hill moved.



  1. Good reminder, sweet Grady Sister Doctor. Very good.

  2. I have the same eye-opening things happen all the time when I am feeling sorry for myself. One morning, I had to stop and get gas in the cold winter wind and was complaining, and then I saw a handicapped man having to struggle just to get out of his car and into his wheelchair, and I thought "point taken." I got no problems.

    It's human, doc. We all do it.

    You are loved.

  3. Working in a cancer hospital, I am reminded of this daily. I start to whine internally and get all "why is this happening to me?" and then I see a woman helping her daughter with her wig or a young man pushing his grand dad in a wheel chair and I mentally slap my face. For as bad as my problems seem right now, I will live to see my next birthday and I have it pretty darn good. It is human.

  4. Excellent. I tell ya, a good 911 dispatcher is worth her weight in gold, and I'm sure she's helped so many people through rough times. It's hard that it's getting her down and I hope she also knows how really important she is.

    I hope you bought spare batteries to throw in the junk drawer!

  5. i. love. this. post.

    i know about the sweet husband daddy list. we can only have such lists because they indulge us and love their children. the things i get away with putting on that list!

    but sometimes, they draw the line. and then we remember that we can do whatever we need to, whenever we need to, and that's always a good thing to be reminded of.

    so yeah. i do love this post. and your sweet husband daddy is a sweet husband daddy indeed.

    i do know they have a sweet wife mommy list, too. in our house it's everything related to filling out school forms or calling the phone company, or standing in line at the passport office and the like. He'll cook and take out the garbage and get the kids early to the school bus (when that was needed) so long as i untangle the bureaucratic messes and clean up the messy hurricane of a kitchen after he cooks a five star meal for us. it works!

    on another note, that poor 911 operator. i have never paused to imagine what that job must be like. how horrific.

  6. I had to read this one to my hub, the banker, who sees a lot of the same things your husband does with this economy. BUT the other similarity is my expectations that he will take care of all my little needs (you know, the ones I don't want to do) since I am the one with the long work hours (never mind that I'm off for 7 days at a time and don't seem to accomplish anything useful in that time). But he never complains...sometimes ignores me, but never complains :) We are lucky girls.


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