Newman's Notions | February 2011 | FREE
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Safety first

I know I need to get up and get started, get my children ready for school. . .and I have an early morning meeting to which I just can't be late.

The alarm clock shatters my dreams. I am lying in bed under my heating blanket, the electric space heater positioned next to my quilt to add extra warmth. I know I need to get up and get started, get my children ready for school…and I have an early morning meeting to which I just can't be late.

I stumble from my bed. I trip slightly over an area rug, then tangle my legs in the space heater, which proceeds to tip over. The cord is frayed, and sparks slightly as I extricate myself. I run into the bathroom, which is already wet from a kid's shower. Sliding across the tile, I catch myself against the towel rack, which partially pulls from the wall. I shove it back in place; it's loose but still hanging. I turn the water knobs as I fiddle with the reception on the radio that sits plugged in on a shelf over the tub. As I climb into the tub I almost knock the radio off the ledge. When I try to get out, I pull myself up by the towel rack, completely pulling it from the wall and falling back into the tub with a splash.

Photo courtesy of James S Newman
Photo courtesy of James S. Newman.

I dry off a bit as I am pulling on my pants, walking across the room to check on my delinquent offspring, and stumbling over my half-mast trousers. I discover the family is already downstairs and waiting for me. I rush to finish my morning ablutions. Where is the toothpaste and deodorant? Can't find either; I guess I'm going without. No towel, either; it's sodden on the floor with the broken rack. Looks like I won't be washing my hands.

I run down the stairs and into the kitchen. I put on boiling water for tea and throw some bread in the toaster. I turn on the oven to make croissants, but the kids are screaming that they are late. I dash from the kitchen, leaving my culinary preparations in a state of flux. As I walk out, I hit the button on the dryer to finish off a load from last night. The kids are already in the car. I run out to get behind the wheel, and we fishtail out of the driveway, which is covered with four inches of new snow.

Slaloming down the hill too fast on a slippery day, I pull my iPhone from my pocket and unhook my seatbelt for increased mobility. The phone is low on charge, so I bend over and fish the charging cord from beneath my seat and plug it into the jack. I hear my kids scream—must be a song they are singing along to. We spin onto the main street and are on our way.

I look at several important texts as I plow through the drifts. There is something from the admissions office, another application to review, a note from an old friend, and a reminder not to be late for my meeting. I think I'll change my Facebook status to “running late.”

I hear my elder daughter shriek, “Dad, you ran that stop sign!” Just because she has a learner's permit is no reason to backseat drive, especially when she is in the front seat.

I run my hand across my jaw. Dang, I forgot to shave. I pull the electric razor from my glove box as I call my secretary. I get a fairly clean shave, steering with my knee. I pull a disposable razor out and touch up my sideburns in the rear view mirror. I drop my youngest off at school, and she bends down and kisses the ground. Kids are weird.

After I drop my genetic units off at their various sites of higher learning, I race to my parking garage, but it is full. I do a quick U-turn. Why is everyone honking; they are acting like it's New York City, not Rochester, Minnesota. Whatever happened to “Minnesota Nice?” Hadn't they ever seen a high-speed maneuver on ice before?

I zoom into a spot, my tail end sticking out into the street. I run across the ice, slipping and almost falling. I run between cars as they dawdle along. Again with the honking—so uncivil! I catch my ankle in a grate as I leap over a snow pile, but stabilize myself on the shoulders of a lady walking down the sidewalk. Luckily she was balanced by her walker.

I bolt up the stairs, leaving a wet trail on the linoleum. The elevator door is closing and I shove my hand in to pop the doors back open. It almost doesn't open, but someone is kind enough to hit the “open door” button.

I stride into the committee room only five minutes behind schedule, and grab a very hot coffee, which drips in my lap as I sit down. It is bad form to be late, since I am the chairman. I welcome everybody and call the Hospital Safety Committee to order.