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When We Went To Boston

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Boston gets fairly rowdy around St. Patrick’s Day. My wife Dawn accompanied me as I attended an event there three years ago. While we’re not drinkers like so many others who attended the conference held around the holiday, we tried to socialize and give our contemporaries a run for their money. It was likely it would be our only trip to Boston as adults.

The first night, we went to the House of Blues near Fenway Park. It was loud, raucous, and phenomenal. We left before the Dropkick Murphys made their annual appearance mainly because I wanted to get up early the next morning and see the start of the Southie Road Race.

The race was impressive. As is the case most other years, many of the runners dressed in bright green costumes, complete with wigs and shoes to match. People had warned us to be careful around the fringes, given the occasional idiot who might want to start a fight, ‘borrow’ $100 or just cause a problem.

It wasn’t until Sunday night that we had any problems. I wanted to hear some live music at Lansdowne Pub. My wife was a little reluctant. She knew I was going to want to walk the strip toward Fenway. Cities can only be really enjoyed by walking them. By 7 p.m. we were walking along and watching people and admiring the array of brick buildings lining the streets. To knock some time off the walk, we cut through a parking garage near Lansdowne Street.

As we traversed the garage, we heard shouting somewhere above us, and then a ‘boom.’ The squeal of tires punctuated the ‘boom’ sound. My wife looked at me in alarm. We decided to move along up against the inside wall of the garage. A few seconds later, a car raced around the corner nearest to us. Simultaneously, a man wearing a green jersey and green top hat stepped from the street outside into the parking garage. A man inside the racing car leaned out the window, pointing a pistol at the top hat-wearing pedestrian.

The pedestrian didn’t move out of the way. The man leaning from the window began shooting toward the pedestrian. At least 5 shots rang out. The pedestrian didn’t flinch. He stood his ground as the shots were fired. The car swerved around him at the last second and popped out of the garage to escape.

My wife and I ran over to the man in the top hat. Our adrenaline was pumping. “Oh my god! Are you okay?” we shouted as we neared him.

“Thanks, mates. Yes, I’m fine. Bullets can’t hurt me.” He seemed to be completely calm. Surprisingly, I don’t think he had been drinking.

He held out his right hand as if to shake mine.

My wife, as always, had a million questions.

“What do you mean, ‘Bullets can’t hurt you.'” she asked.

“My name is Rick O’Shea,” he said, as I shook his hand, and answering my wife’s question.
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Danger: Soup For Lunch

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I found myself being shaken violently.

As I opened my eyes, I felt the cold kitchen floor on my back. The overhead lights blinded me momentarily.

“Hey, X, wake up! What happened?” my wife asked me as she continued to shake me.

I raised myself to a sitting position, trying to clear my foggy head.

As my hands began rubbing my sore eyes, my wife said, “Be careful, you’ve got bruises under your eyes and on your face. Who hit you?”

I couldn’t remember anyone else being in the house with me. As I tried to process what might have happened, I remembered that I was about to eat a bite of lunch. I had gone to the cupboard, which we jokingly call “The Sarcophagus.”

“Aha!” my wife exclaimed just I recalled randomly pulling out a can of soup to open it.

“Look, honey.” My wife held up a partially-opened can of soup as I turned my neck painfully to look.

It was a can of whoop ass.

Surprise! A Humorous Story

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Several years ago, the CEOs of several hospitals in the region attended an NWA Business symposium. During that meeting, they decided to do something to foster a friendlier environment among their respective hospitals.

For the first time ever, each hospital system decided to send several teams, separated by departments, to compete in the first annual Medical Awareness Day (MAD). With such games as Tug-of-War, Engineering Feats, Singing Contest, Cook-Off, Softball Tournament, and Spelling Bee, the CEOs also proposed that each department would compete outside of its normal comfort zone, drawn and assigned randomly to each department.

After a full day of intense competition, the Nursing, Dietary, CNA, Housekeeping, Biomedical, and Support Services were all tied among three hospitals. As the day progressed, the strain of having a good time while valiantly attempting to win each competition had intensified. The day was a huge success. The trophy for the overall winner now waited for a single team to claim it.

For the last competition, the Maintenance Departments from each of the three major hospital chains drew “Spelling Bee” as their realm to compete. The maintenance men all shrugged their shoulders and decided to compete to win.

All three teams sat in a huge “U”, with the CEOs seated up front, given that this would decide the entire crown for the year. The remainder of the 1,500 capacity room was packed with onlookers. As each team began, each of them spelled their assigned words without much complication. They only asked for the definition of a word three times for the first 30 words.

The CEO for Northwest Health held aloft a tiny strip of folded paper.

“This is the last word. The first to spell it correctly wins it all.” He smiled, certain that his team would be crowned as champion, given that the maintenance team from his hospital was next up.

The CEO read the word.

“Could I have the definition? I don’t recognize that word,” the team captain for Northwest Health’s maintenance team asked.

“Sure,” replied the CEO. He pronounced the word and then read the definition.

The Northwest Team Captain stared blankly. “Pass,” he said. “I’ve never heard that word before.”

The CEO then continued asking each member of his team to spell the word. All 6 of them failed.

After Northwest, the Mercy maintenance team did the same, with the same result. Everyone in the room became anxious, knowing that the entire competition could now be won by the maintenance crew at Washington Regional.

The CEO for Washington Regional was smiling from ear to ear.

Starting with the team captain, he asked each person of his maintenance crew to spell the word neither of the other two teams could master.

In succession, all of them misspelled the word. Gasps could be heard among the onlookers.

Finally, the last maintenance person from Washington Regional attempted to spell the word. As he said the last few letters, everyone knew that he had failed. The CEO put his head in his hands in disbelief.

The coordinator for the event, knowing that the moment was being televised on a local news channel, leaned in and asked the CEO, “What was the word none of the maintenance crews could spell? We have to know!”

After a moment, the CEO opened his right palm and laid the strip of paper with the impossible word face-up on the table in front of him.

The camera zoomed in to focus on the word.
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On the strip of paper was written: R E P A I R E D

Airlifted To Payment

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In the last few days, another accident near Springdale started the same conversation about needing a Level 1 Trauma center here in Walmetro. (It’s a reasonable nickname for this area, don’t you agree?) I enjoyed reading the teeth-gnashing commentary on social media news sites. I’m pretty sure that about half the locals misspelled the word “trauma.” I’m not a big freak about spelling like some of my other weirdo friends, but it is worth noting that someone needs to tell everyone that the ED isn’t for erectile dysfunction. (Unless you have taken 16 tablets of Viagra mistakenly. Or on purpose, too, I guess.)

I don’t want to be airlifted anywhere. If I am airlifted against my will, the paramedics should use me as a human bomb. I’ll allow you to drop me onto any local Walmart, where low, low prices won’t be stymied by a falling corpse. (May commerce live forever.) Just leave the door open as you fly over and give me a directional push: no one will know. I’ll just drop in. If the paramedics can drop me through one of the roof skylights, they should get extra points for effort.

A couple of times when I was young, I survived, even on the occasion I might have been technically dead for a bit. During that episode of “Frighten Grandma,” I lived in the middle of nowhere in Monroe County and the only reason I’m here is that some milk or ice cream truck miraculously went by.

The other time, I lived here in Northwest Arkansas, back when no roads came here on purpose and the word ER meant that everyone hoped someone was on duty (and sober) if he or she accidentally shot their own face off. I came out of that one with 160+ stitches. I’m not even sure anyone in NWA knew what a helicopter was back in those days unless they were James Bond fans or Vietnam draftees.

Historical fact: until the 1970s there were literally no roads to get to Springdale. They didn’t want us getting in or out. True story. *True-ish. Okay, it’s totally false, but we’re living in a post-truth period.

Since then, the medical community here has developed to such an extent that it’s difficult to imagine the necessity of being airlifted anywhere. Whether we have a Level 1 Trauma center is immaterial to me. As long as the billing department is operational, I’m sure I’ll get all the required attention I need.

Another fact: if you experience trauma, they always cut your pants off first. It’s not to give you better medical care, as you probably learned on episode 12,367 of Grey’s Anatomy; rather, it’s so that they get to your wallet first.

Let’s be honest about this anyway: it’s likely that if the medical crew discovers it’s me needing assistance, they’re likely to play a round of golf before getting around to transport me. Ever since the infamous incident wherein I recreated the Alien stomach-burst, the paramedics put me on ‘the list.’ (I think they aren’t sci-fi fans.)

I’ll take my chances, especially now that I’ve lived over half a century.

If I am to die, I’ll take a slight risk with the local medical talent here. I don’t want to be in some miserable hospital away from home, imposing a burden on the few people crazy enough to be interested in my early demise. (Not hasten it, I might add, even if they seem to be in a betting mood.) Having spent a lot of time in hospitals, it is important that you understand that they are misery factories for family and friends. The burden and expense of being away from home is completely objectionable to me.

Before you ask, yes, that means I’m willing to roll the dice with my life a little bit if it means that the locals get a stab, so to speak, at me first. Driving through Johnson is a risk and I’ve mostly survived that.

Keep this in mind if something unexpected happens to me. Keep the helicopter for someone else. Feel free to drive me 140 mph down the interstate if you wish, jumping hell and high holler. Everyone needs a little practice driving the ambulance, so let the new guy Jimmy give it a try if you pick me up. An escort by Roscoe P. Coltrane might be nice, too.

While this might have made you chuckle, I’m writing in all seriousness.

Death is no laughing matter unless you’ve made plans to be buried in a jack-in-the-box coffin. I recommend that everyone at least ask their preferred mortuary if they offer such a thing. If only for the laughs.

We have world-class medical facilities here. Don’t fly me anywhere, unless I’m already gone and someone needs my liver – or he/she answers to the name Hannibal Lecter.

A Small Story for Friday the 13th

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He didn’t relish the role foisted upon him.

He didn’t shy away from it, either.

His only concern was that each deserving soul met its end at dusk. Whether guilt or innocence played a role in each participant’s demise failed to register for him.

Life hadn’t altered its casual disdain for the perceived importance each player brought to his or her small part in the universe.

His tired muscles could feel the pull exerted by the thirst for endings, anticipating a busy nightfall. From off in the distance, he could hear the amassing footsteps of those unaware of the unfolding promise of the night.

Each of them expected a demon or the angel of death; none expected a fatigued man with a full face of worry lines and eyes burning with purpose.

He’d greet them all, while pushing them onward toward the great ‘next.’

“Smallfoot” Was My Bigfoot Legend

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It’s interesting that there’s a movie named “Smallfoot” in theaters.

It looks like that I missed a chance to capitalize on the name “Smallfoot” and the marketing revenue that would have accompanied it.

For years, I’ve told stories about the ‘real’ Bigfoot: Smallfoot. The main story I’ve told: that Bigfoot is real, except that he’s exceptionally tiny and evades detection through his diminutive status. Everyone’s running around in the dark, desperately seeking a large creature when, in fact, Bigfoot is a tiny animal hiding in plain sight.

About 5 years ago, I created a Facebook page for the “Smallfoot” community. I filled it with the legends and sightings of a really small Bigfoot.

I even created a website (which I never took live) and made t-shirts. I had a REALLY large size t-shirt made for my co-worker Joe Buss. I made fake publicity stills and even wrote studios such as A&E to generate either buzz or confusion in their minds. For a while, I had a lot of fun with it.

I let it go and never went live with the website. Joe still has his t-shirt, though.

There’s no point to this post other than to say that I misjudged how much I could have taken advantage of my really dumb idea. Whether the studio saw my original nonsense or came up with it independently, I was first. Some of my friends and social media friends probably recall my flirtation with notoriety.

It turns out that my dumb take on the old legend wasn’t dumb at all.

 

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