Last week the students in my Writing Close to the Earth online class read George Orwell's classic essay, "Politics and the English Language." In it ... Read More
One day, all dumbness will vanish from my life and my goofs will haunt me no more. Until then, I must reconcile myself to the fact that on some days my elevator doesn’t go to the top floor. In high school, I once drove my car to school–backwards. Then there was the time I gave a speech to a room full of people–with my fly down. And the time as a young adult when I put my foot in my mouth so far, I had to call Roto-Rooter. I once told a man who was dying of cancer that he looked great (he did), which would have been fine if I’d left it there. Unfortunately, I continued, “I can’t believe that everybody says you look so sick.” Yikes. Have you ever cringed so deeply that your whole body twisted?
I can forgive myself for slips of the tongue though. In fact, it’s quite easy to forgive myself for situations in which I was forced to make a quick decision, but simply chose wrong. But when I engage in what I call premeditated dumb, well that is where I want to literally kick my own butt. On Friday of last week, I had one such day.
It started on such a sweet, positive note. My wife bought me a new gas grill as an early Father’s Day present. In the last five or six years, I’ve developed the recreational hobby of cooking and it was a very thoughtful gift. We actually shopped together several days prior, something we don’t often have time to do. We visited four different stores, and settled on a unit with the best combination of features and sale price. Friday was the day I chose to transport it home.
With a little forethought and wisdom, at this point I could have averted impending trouble, but it was on this day that had you wired my brain for sound, you might have heard an echo between my ears. After another errand, I stopped at Menard’s to pick up the new grill. The unit that was on sale was sold out, so I had to drive to the next closest store, which had several in stock. It was inconvenient, but these things happen. No problem.
Despite the inconvenience, everything was going well until–like a fool–I tried to transport the grill home in my car. This is truly one of the downright dumbest things I’ve done in awhile.
I ask the young man that helped me take the grill to the car if anybody had ever tried to fit a grill of this size into a car. Get this; He said, “No, except for one guy that opened the box and put the whole thing in by individual parts!” So at that point, I began to sense (hello, anybody in there?) that the odds were not stacked in my favor. I think statisticians call this scenario “low probability.”
The grill was obviously too large for the car. Never one to be deterred by the obvious, I tried to force the issue. After twisting and turning the massive box like a fat lady trying on a pair of shoes two sizes too small, my assistant and I managed to squeeze the box into the passenger seat of the car. But there was one problem. The box hung out from the side of the car about six inches, nothing a little muscle power couldn’t fix! So with the raw strength of–oh, say two of the Three Stooges–we huffed and puffed until we heard a loud, POP!!! And with the POP!!! the grill easily slid in enough to close the door.
Upon careful investigation, I noticed that my rear view mirror was hanging from my car roof by strands of wire, which control the auto dimming function of the rear view mirror. The rear view mirror had been unceremoniously ripped from the windshield, which in turn cracked the windshield in one of those star patterns. So because we have a high deductible on our insurance, I’ll be footing the bill for this one. The windshield replacement will probably cost more than the grill! One of “those” days? That’s positive spin. It was much worse than that, especially on my psyche.
To add insult to injury, I discovered that I couldn’t shift into drive. So now, with part of the box stuck out of the passenger side window and part stuck out of the moon roof, I couldn’t drive because the box was wedged up against the automatic shifter. Finally, I muscled the box another two inches, enough to shift into drive. At that point, I was wedged in between the grill and driver’s side door, and I suddenly realized that my Diet Coke and peanuts–which I bought as a snack for the trip home–were in the back seat. Though my body was immobile, I confirmed the location of my snack by turning my neck. I just wanted to confirm that they were still there. Hey, I needed some cheering up at that point!
But then I had another problem called visibility–or lack thereof. Not only did I not have the benefit of my rear view mirror, but I couldn’t see out of the right side of my car because–you guessed it–the grill was blocking my view.
As this point, you may be thinking, “Why didn’t he just call his wife?” And if that’s what you are thinking, I’m quite sure you are female. Men think differently. I could have called my wife, of course. But I didn’t. Yes, I could have rented or borrowed a pick-up. And yes, I am stubborn like you wouldn’t believe. I got the thing in the car and wasn’t about to change my plan at that point. So, v-e-r-y carefully, I drove home. The worst part? Explaining the whole thing to my wife. And yes, she laughed, thankfully in a gentle way. Sometime I’ll tell you all about some of the other dumb things I’ve done in my life, but this one is enough humiliation for one day.
As I type this, I keep hoping that tomorrow will be a better day. Unfortunately, tomorrow is the day that I assemble the grill.