Haiku Thursday: Ice

I'VE CONSIDERED COMPOSING AN ODE to ice machines. To me, there's just something really great about a big full cup of ice. It started when I was a kid. We vacationed at the shore in New Jersey, and there was a big ice machine on each floor that churned out small, square cubes. I was giddy! No ice trays to crack and refill and try not to spill as you replace them in the freezer! It was a full week of as much ice as I could possibly tote from the machine to our condo.

After all these years, the first thing I do as soon as I enter a hotel room is grab the ice bucket and find the ice machine. I rejoiced when one of my clients installed a countertop water and ice dispenser, just around the corner from my office, that filled my cup to overflowing with "chewy ice" just like at Royal Farms stores. If I win the lottery, I'm buying one for my home. 

It will come as no surprise that I require a prolific ice maker in my home freezer. It's not as good as having a dedicated ice machine, but it's the next best thing, especially when there's in-door dispensing. I don't have that now, but the in-freezer ice maker is fast and efficient. The only problem is that the automatic arm doesn't click to "off" when the "cubes" (they aren't actually cube-shaped) fill the bin, causing ice to overflow into the rest of the freezer. I am in charge of its manual operation and remain vigilant in my duty.

Today is Haiku Thursday, and as such I must limit my tribute to just 17 syllables: 

Copy of #HaikuThursday (4)

And to answer the question this haiku might prompt – yes, there are two here, and AM I EVER HAPPY.


Going up

I USED TO PAY BETTER ATTENTION in elevators. I had to, because with clients in various office buildings around the city, paying attention in elevators was a critical job skill. I'd think to myself, it's Monday, so today you're down 19th from Dupont Circle and your client's on 6. Tomorrow is the alternate Tuesday, so you're west on M Street, 7th floor, and Wednesday it's the one on 17th Street with the grouchy security guard, top floor.

It was a point of pride that I almost never forgot which elevator button to push. I had my act together and was pretty proud of it.

Then last year, I retired my wheeled briefcase and started working in the same place every day. My new office building has touch pad elevator call buttons: You press your destination floor and the panel tells you which elevator will take you there. You don't press a button in the elevator because it already knows. This allows you to kind of zone out during the ride up.

Yesterday I took the day off so I could arrange some long-overdue medical appointments. And so I found myself in a different office building first thing in the morning. As I entered the elevator, another woman was already in there. The 8 button was lit. I pressed 5. The doors almost closed, then opened again, much to the relief of a harried-looking mother with three active kids, between the ages of 6 and 2. She herded her brood into the elevator and instructed her oldest daughter to press 11, which she did.

You know how kids love elevator buttons? Well of course the little guy wanted to press a button too, and he lunged for the bottom row, which included the ALARM button. Mom pulled him back just in time, then shooed her other son out of my personal space, scolding him, "You're being rude." I didn't mind, though. I was thinking about why this one mama had brought all three kids with her to a medical appointment, without a stroller. Had the nanny canceled? Perhaps her husband was out of town. 

The car stopped at 5; no one got out. I looked at the other woman, who had never looked up from her phone. Huh, I thought. She is so engrossed in her phone that she forgot to get off the elevator! Amused, I watched her to see how she would react when she realized she'd missed her stop. 

The doors closed and the car continued to 8. The lady with the phone got out. 

Aha, I thought. She realized she missed her stop and got off at 8 instead. But I was focused on those kids. I thought, if Mom needs help, I will come to her rescue. She sure is lucky she boarded an elevator with me, an experienced mother of three kids!

As the elevator continued up to 11, that's when I remembered that *I* was the one was supposed to get off at 5. I had become so distracted that I managed, in that short ride, to forget which floor I'd pressed. 

Mom was focused on executing her tenacious 1-on-3 defense, but I still wanted to avoid a potentially embarrassing exchange. So I followed her off the elevator, as if I'd meant to get off on the same floor. To pre-empt any questions, I gave her a meaningful look and a nod and said, "It gets better, I promise," and added with a knowing wink, sister to sister, "I understand. Hang in there!" She thanked me and wished me a nice day. 

I waited for the foursome to disappear around the corner before quietly pressing the call button and re-entering the elevator for the ride back down to the fifth floor.




Falling Down

I SUPPOSE THERE ARE WORSE THINGS that could happen than falling down in the Whole Foods parking lot while returning to your car with a bag of groceries, but at 5:30 last evening, I couldn't think of one.

I was wearing a wrap dress and a pair of chunky-heeled sandals. I don't usually wear heels, but these were comfortable and sturdy Dansko, with a thick square heel on the bottom and a substantial leather upper. I only describe the shoes in detail because there was no other reason why I would have taken a tumble. The parking lot had been recently paved, it was dry, and I didn't notice any pebbles or other obstacles. Nevertheless, I managed to fall off of my shoes in spectacular fashion, just a few steps from my car.

This wasn't my first fall. A couple of years ago, I went down while walking down a stationary Metro escalator. I was carrying a wheeled briefcase and it caught on a step, throwing me off balance. I was lucky that the escalator wasn't moving at the time and even luckier that I was just a few steps from the bottom of a short escalator (instead of at the top of one of the really long ones). I jumped up, my lip bleeding, trying to act like I totally meant to do that (what? you don't fall on purpose?), lest anyone nearby become concerned or feel obligated to come to my aid. Then a train entered the station, so I quickly gathered my things and hurried to catch it. Because that's what you do. When I got home, I threw the shoes I was wearing in the trash. I blamed the shoes.

As you're falling, time stands still, and your brain issues a series of vivid thoughts:

Oh no not here please no oh shit

Please don't let me break a bone

Sure glad I didn't buy those eggs

I hope no one sees me

This is going to hurt

Try to act natural

Whatever you do don't cry

I landed  - OOOF – with my left knee taking the main impact and my left arm breaking the fall. I immediately scrambled to my feet. In that moment, it made sense to me to act as if I'd done it on purpose. The worst possible thing would be for some stranger to have to decide whether they should come rushing over to help me. Even worse if it was someone I know. Quelle Embarrassment.  I opened the trunk – nothing to see here, folks! – and placed my grocery bag in it. Then I realized my plastic milk bottle was dented, so I wrapped it in a plastic bag in case it should leak. 

Finally, I got into the car and looked at my knee. It was scraped but not bloody, and it would bruise, but it was fine. Phew. Then I realized there was a woman sitting in the car next to me, pecking at her iPhone. Either she missed the spectacle, or decided to act as if she had. I was equal parts grateful that she didn't add to the scene and insulted that she didn't think enough of her fellow human to at least roll down her window and ask if I was OK.

I didn't throw away those shoes – they're still pretty new – but I did feel that same anger towards them.

The part of this that puzzles me is that feeling of not wanting anyone to go to any bother. I would pretty much rather die than have anyone go out of their way to help me. I'm not good at being on the receiving end of kindness. I'm trying to get better, but it makes me a little… uncomfortable. 

I remember reading a story written by a friend, of how she was at a party and realized she was choking, actually choking, and rather than inconvenience anyone with her little problem, she quietly went into a hallway and gave herself the Heimlich maneuver. Fortunately, it worked. She was relieved she didn't have to embarrass herself in front of everyone.

Late last evening, I was reminded that there is something worse than falling in a parking lot. A dear friend just received a cancer diagnosis. With that dose of perspective, I started thinking about what I could do to help her. Because I'd always rather be on the giving end of the equation.

This morning, I'm sore, like I was in a little car accident or something. My knee stings but is fine. And I'm wearing flat shoes.