A Shoulder To Lean On – Well Almost


Do you ever let things over which you have no control throw a kink in your peace of mind and fill you with a sense of anxiety and dread? I had only been stopped in traffic for ten minutes, but I could feel my anxiety rising with a sense of dread. I’d rather miss an event all together than to show up late. I know it’s weird, but I can’t help myself.


Last week when I was at the child-care administrator’s conference in Fort Worth, I was amazed at the number of people that walked into a training session halfway through the presentation. Of course, they stayed and got the confirmation number to document their attendance and will, no doubt, get full credit for having been in attendance.   I know what you’re thinking. You are wondering why I care? Truthfully, that is a good question and I don’t know the answer. It just gets my goat and I’m not an animal person, so you’d think I could let it go.


Actually, last night I was on my way to a work related function in Houston. It was billed as a “feel good event” to honor our donors, but after sitting totally stopped in traffic for ten minutes less than half a block from my hotel, I was in a panic. I certainly wasn’t feeling good and besides that, at the pace I was traveling, I probably was going to arrive late. Like I said, I’d rather be a “no show” than a late show.


According to the GPS, the eleven-mile commute to the event was only supposed to require twenty minutes out of my day. Already, I had spent half of the allotted time and could sense the stress that building. Of course, at the time, it was still only 5:55 p.m. The event didn’t start until 6:30. I had started to the event very early and I still had plenty of time, or so I thought.


Thirty-five minutes later, it’s a good thing no one could read my thoughts because they weren’t positive. I wanted to shout driving instructions to drivers.  My car had traveled only a small distance since the beginning of my travel. Sure as shootin’, I was going to be late, probably very late. I was also surprised that there was no shootin’. Drivers were being less than courteous. After all, every driver on the road had a destination in mind and everyone behind the wheel was already late.


At least I now understood the problem. The traffic lights at the intersection of Hwy 6 and the access road on both sides of IH-10 were not functioning. It was rush hour traffic, but no one was rushing; most everyone was stopped. No one was directing traffic. Did I mention no one was directing traffic? No wonder I had spent 45 minutes waiting to get through an intersection half a mile from my hotel. It was proving to be a not so good day.


I texted someone at the event and expressed my regrets regarding the probability of being very late. Honestly, as I watched the expressions on people’s faces, I was a little concerned that I might hear the sound of gunshots. People were not driving friendly and there was absolutely no coordination related to which vehicle was next in line to cross the intersection.  There were four lanes of traffic on the access road on each side of  IH-10. The same was true for Hwy 6. When I finally got through the quagmire of vehicles, I breathed a major sigh of relief. The traffic was finally beginning to move. Maybe I had a snowball’s chance of not being as late as I feared.


I arrived about the same time that a number of other people were arriving. I noticed that several men were wearing suits or a sport’s jacket. I breathed a sigh of relief. I was not going to not look like a fish out of water.  I  had dressed appropriately for the evening.


As I walked into the home where the event was taking place, I greeted one of our board members and her husband. The husband had his arm in a sling. I inquired about the injury thinking surely he hadn’t been playing touch football. He wasn’t old, but he wasn’t young enough to be playing football. I thought maybe he had fallen on his shoulder. I am often surprised by the number of younger-older guys that still play sports. When I asked about his shoulder, his wife suggested that I might find his story worthy of one of my blogs. As it turned out, it was.


The injury had nothing to do with football. It was related to a hunting accident. He had been elk hunting in Montana. The thing that was most surprising is that the accident occurred fifteen years ago this past October. He said he carelessly failed to ensure that the cinch strap on his horse’s saddle was snug after they stopped for lunch. As he remounted to cross a stream, the horse’s first step was about two and one half feet deep into the water. As the horse’s body twisted, the saddle rolled the wrong direction. Apparently so did he.


Quick as a flash, both the saddle and rider were now postured under the belly of the horse. He didn’t say that he was holding on for dear life, but he said he held on to the mane of the horse. I am assuming he was holding on for dear life. There had to be some level of pride that would be forfeited if he totally fell off his horse. What self-respecting cowboy could let something like that happen?  After all, that story would make it back to Texas before the hunting trip was completed.


You noticed, I made no mention of the importance of staying upright on horseback. By the time the horse negotiated getting across the stream, the horseman/elk hunter was in no shape to hold his rifle against his right shoulder. Every muscle or ligament that could be torn in his shoulder had been stressed to the limit. I didn’t asked, but I bet he didn’t have any Arsorbine Jr. with him. Real cowboys don’t carry stuff like that in their bedrolls.


Fast-forward fifteen years and it was time for a new shoulder and joint replacement. The on-going pain associated to worn out joints and arthritis had caught up with him. Isn’t it amazing what can be orchestrated through medical technology? It is also an indication  that delayed maintenance can be a complicated and painful process.


At the end of the evening, I said to him: “It has been an evening of extremes. You told me about your horseback hunting trip to Montana and we ending the evening listening to 17th Century music played on a harpsichordist and a “chittarist”. Both instruments were reflective of the instruments available at the time the score was written.


I guess it was an evening of extremes: Cowboys stories and an evening at the Opera. All I know is that it was an incredible event. Folks had an enjoyable evening and I’m glad I went even if I did arrive five minutes late.


All My Best!






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