I try to keep this blog light and fun, even in the midst of water-filled basements and flooded dreams. Normally, such an event provides more material than and Irish Chain quilt. Well, this is one is no different. The only problem is, when flood waters invade people’s homes, they steal the silly away too.
If I don't post, its mostly because I A). don't have time or B). I can't laugh yet.
Monday was one of, if not the worst, day so far. I worked Friday night. And again Saturday. Then I sandbagged. And worked Sunday. And Monday. And sandbagged Tuesday.
The combination of stress, fear and sense of obligation is one I've tried to convey in my newspaper stories but have ignored here. Monday I confessed I was "flooded out." Not in the sense I had water on my property aside from that of my toilet bowl, but because I'd lost my appetite. And I'm a hungry girl for both peanut butter balls and a good interview.
So I figured a good morning of sandbagging would set me straight... straight to the chiropractor. And the guy to girl ratio didn't hurt either.
After a breakfast of bran flakes and blueberries, this girl hiked downtown, ready to bag, tie... whatever they needed. Well, they didn't need baggers any more. They needed builders.
Bring it on, I said.
Soon, I was the only lady in a line of uniformed National Guard soldiers. Lucky for them, they had me to explain how this sandbagging business is done. I don't know how I did it, but somehow my energy returned...
I don't typically dress up to sandbag and Tuesday was no exception. The day started at 8 a.m. so I broke out my old all-girl school habits and wore exactly what’d I’d worn to bed the night before. After a night shift, I'm barely up that early, let alone manually laboring. But despite my unbrushed hair, unbrushed teeth (gum saves time) and maybe-I-remembered-deodorant-maybe-I-didn't armpits, I found a way to flirt.
And by "found a way," some people may call it sexual harassment. I call it verbal volleyball.
That's a cute-looking little purse you got there, one gent said of my Fourth of July back-pack poncho. Had he been cute, I'd have blushed, giggled and mumbled "thankss uh... you."
But since his belly resembled that of a woman two weeks til childbirth, I told him not too worry. They come in pink too.
To show him and all the other dudes up, I lifted bags from their pallets to a neighboring volunteer’s open arms. The task is one of the more demanding of the ordeal, the most being throwing them and the least being handing them back and forth. And if you think four hours of hand-to-hand transactions is simple, head north. Turn left at the sign marked "asshole."
Sometimes a kind-hearted, big muscley guy wanted to trade spots me. I told him he could move sand or he could pound it, but he wasn't getting my job.
I learned that skill while playing football with the boys in seventh grade. You had to first prove how much better, stronger, faster you were than everyone else before they’d consider you a measly equal. Idiots.
During the construction phase, sometimes the sandbags aren't tied tight enough or sometimes they tear a little. I like to call those sandbags bleeders. The bleeders ricochet wet sand like water sprinklers, sending it in mouths, ears, eyeballs and crevices you didn’t know existed.
Whoa, that's a good one, I said, shaking out my shirt.
Careful, he'll want to help you with that, said one machinist with chew in his pocket and a rose tattoo on his arm.
I'll need someone with more experience, I said.
I don't think they appreciated it too much as soon they were taking longer than usual to retrieve my forward pass, causing me to lose my momentum, pause and lift again.
Sorry, the pregnant man said, I just thought you looked good holding that thing.
I look good doing pretty much anything, I said, wondering where the audacity came from. Was that milk in my cereal or Miller Light?
Soon my morning was over and it was back to the office where I stunned everyone and myself with how not sore I felt.
Then Wednesday happened.
Suddenly I felt like Godzilla sat on me, pulled my hair and insulted my mother.
Ibuprofen didn’t work. But bragging about it did. Sympathy for the sandbagger? I’d ask. Anything for our savior, they’d say. What can we do to repay you?
I accept cash, check and chocolate chip cookies.