I was selling at a farmers market in a small Arizona town. I’d
brought a bunch of new rocks from Quartzsite, and they were practically flying
off my table. It was turning out to be a lucrative day.
It was late in the morning when the woman walked up to my table. She was probably in her late 50s. Her hair was died a tasteful dark red, and her makeup was understated by apparent. She was wearing a flowy, cream colored blouse, and she held a little dog in her arms.
I told her about the septarian concretions on my table and the $3 hearts cut from agate, carnelian, labradorite, and rose quartz. The woman was polite, but seemed distracted. She gave my wares a cursory look, but didn’t seem interested in anything I was selling.
As she moved toward the end of my table, I thought I saw a white tag on the side seam of her blouse. I thought it was strange to see a tag on the outside of her blouse. Had this woman put her shirt on inside out and was now wearing it that way around town?
I was concerned for the woman because I put on my own shirt inside out much too often. Especially when I’m living in my van, especially if I get dressed before the sun’s fully out, especially if I’m rewearing a sweatshirt I hurriedly pulled over my head and tossed into a corner before I fell asleep, I might find myself wearing a shirt with the wrong side out. Sometimes I wear the shirt with the seams and tag showing for hours before I realize what’s up. I’m always a little sheepish when I realize that at nearly 50 years old, I still can’t successfully dress myself on a consistent basis.
I wanted to spare this woman embarrassment, but I also didn’t want to insult her. Maybe this was a fancy designer blouse and the tag had been purposefully placed on the outside of the side seam. I certainly wouldn’t know if this was some sort of new style.
I surveyed the woman’s shirt as she moved along my table. I didn’t see obvious seams, but there was certainly a tag on the side where two pieces of fabric usually come together. Should I say something?
As she turned to walk away, I saw another tag on the back of the shirt’s neckline, right in the spot where shirt manufacturers typically put tags. Now the shirt really appeared to be inside out. It was now or never!
Ma’am? I called out. She turned right around and looked at me.
I took three steps over and stood close to her. I leaned in and said in a low voice, I think your shirt is on inside out. I was striving to present no judgement, just to state my perceptions of the circumstances at hand.
Oh! I did that when I got dressed! she exclaimed. Apparently she’d realized she’d put on her shirt inside out, meant to switch it, but had moved on to other activities and had forgotten her fashion mistake.
Now I’m going to have to go back to my camper to change it, she told me.
I don’t care if you don’t care, I said, trying to reassure her.
But I do care! she said.
She headed toward the parking lot, and I went back to my table. About ten minutes later, the woman came by again to tell me she’d flipped her shirt. There was not a tag in sight.
I could tell the woman was mad by the way she approached the
kiosk. She was short—probably not even 5 feet tall—but she swaggered like a
football player taking the field.
Her hair was totally white and cut short. She wore glasses
and a black t-shirt with chile peppers screen printed on it. (When she turned
around, I saw the back of the shirt read “Some like it hot.”)
She never smiled when I asked how I could help her this morning.
Only the light for the
flex fuel comes on! she complained.
I found out what pump she was on and said I’d come out and
try to help. Was the flex fuel going to give us problems now? Two diesel pumps
were out of order already. I didn’t really need another problem so early in the
I left the kiosk and found the woman waiting for me. I
followed her to the pump where her car was parked. As soon as she got there,
she grabbed the yellow handle of the flex fuel nozzle from under the yellow
sign that read “flex fuel this nozzle only.” When she lifted the nozzle, the
light on the flex fuel selector button lit up.
Only the light for
flex fuel comes on! she said as if she hated me, my ancestors, and my
I was trying really hard to understand what was going on. It
seemed to me that if one lifted the flex fuel handle, one should expect the
light for flex fuel to come on.
Do you want flex fuel?
Noooooooo! she wailed as if I were the dumbest dummy
she’d ever encountered. She was exceptionally frustrated.
Oh. Well, go ahead and
hang up the flex fuel nozzle, I told her.
She hung it up, and I grabbed the handle to the gasoline
nozzle. As soon as I lifted the gasoline handle, the lights on the selectors
for regular, midgrade, and premium lit up.
Oh, the woman said
flatly. I’m sorry.
She didn’t sound sorry. She sounded still pissed, but also
Don’t worry about,
I told her. It happens all the time,
I said, even though it hadn’t happened even once before in the month I’d worked
at the fuel center.
Suicide prevention remains a universal challenge. Every year, suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages. It is responsible for over 800,000 deaths, which equates to one suicide every 40 seconds.
To help call attention to this tragic reality, today’s post is about my own experience with suicide.
The Man and I were going over the Bridge at 10 o’clock on a
Saturday morning in early June. I was driving. When we were in the middle of
the Bridge, I looked over and saw two uniformed state troopers standing on the observation
deck. They were looking down, down, down, into the river. One peered through a
pair of binoculars, and the other looked with his naked eyes.
Oh no! I said. Someone
must have jumped. I knew those state troopers weren’t bird watching. If
they were looking down at the river on a Saturday morning, they were probably
trying to spot a body.
Do you think so?
The Man asked.
Unfortunately, I had to say yes.
When I sold jewelry and shiny rocks at the Bridge, it was always a sad time for me after someone jumped. Whenever I got word that a suicide had happened, I packed up my merchandise and went elsewhere for the day. Too many people (tourists and vendors alike) wanted to talk about the event as if it was only the latest bit of juicy gossip. Other people made bad jokes about suicide or said indignantly that it was something they would never do. Suicide has been a reality I’ve faced throughout my life, and I don’t take it lightly. There’s nothing funny about it as far as I’m concerned. Any time a person is so distraught that taking their own life seems like a good idea is a time for sorrow and mourning.
About three hours after I saw the state troopers on the
Bridge, we headed over it again on our way home. I saw several vehicles marked
“State Police.” They were all parked on the sides of the highway and none of
them had lights or sirens on.
definitely going on, I told The Man. Did
you see all those State Police cars?
He had seen them too. We both knew those cops weren’t out at
the Bridge having a picnic. We were both quiet the rest of the way home.
On Wednesday, my fears were confirmed.
I was listening to the local community radio station while I
washed dishes. One of the news stories was about a woman who had committed
suicide by jumping off the Bridge the previous Saturday. I was sad to have been
The radio announcer didn’t give many details about the
death. He said the State Police don’t release the names of suicide victims out
of respect for the survivors. He did say the woman had driven hours from her
home in the big city to jump off the Bridge. Her family said she’d been depressed
and talking about suicide. When her family members couldn’t get in touch with
her, they called the State Police and asked them to do a wellness check.
The State Police found the woman’s car in the rest area
adjacent to the Bridge. After finding the car, they started looking for the
woman in the rest area. When they couldn’t find her there, they started looking
below the Bridge. Unfortunately, that’s where they found her. I don’t know if
she jumped at night so the darkness shielded her from the sight of her body’s
final destination or if she waited until after sunrise so she could see where
she was going. However it happened, by 10am she was gone.
The radio announcer said the woman was the second person to
jump off the Bridge in 2019. The first person had jumped in April.
When someone jumps, I think it’s a sad and somber occasion,
even if I’m not at the Bridge when it happens or when the body is discovered.
When someone jumps, a life is over, a light has gone out, potential will never
be realized. I know the pain and distress that leads people to kill themselves,
and I don’t wish such hurt and sadness on anyone.
Honestly, I’ve considered jumping from that bridge several
times. I’m not sure what’s held me back, but whenever someone ends their life
there, I think about how it could have been me. I have a personal connection
with every single person who jumps from the Bridge.
Whenever I drive across the Bridge—especially in the early
morning when I’m alone in the truck—I fantasize about seeing someone about to
jump, stopping the truck, intervening, driving the person to safety. I was too
late for the woman in June, but maybe I’ll be right on time for the next
If you are feeling sad, depressed, distraught, or suicidal, you can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at1800-273-8255. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If you have internet access, you can find more information on the hotline’s website. If you’d rather chat with a counselor instead of talking, you can do so from the website. If you’re having trouble, please ask for help.
The Man says Jerico the dog has suffered from acid reflux
since he was a puppy. I don’t remember the first time I woke up in the night to
find Jerico swallowing rapidly and repeatedly, but this situation became a
running theme in our lives. When the swallowing began, a hunt for grass was on.
Jerico would eat the grass (with gusto, obsessively) and eventually puke it up.
The puking seemed to settle his stomach and let him rest.
Finding grass was no problem if we were camped near a river
or a meadow, but it was harder to come by if we were in a desert. I remember
once waking up in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Santa Fe, NM at 4am to the sound of
the swallowing dog. The parking lot landscape did not include nonnative grass
growing like a lawn (Good for you, Santa Fe Wal-Mart!), so there was nothing
for Jerico to eat to induce vomiting. We had to drive off into the dark to find
another business (a school, actually) that did landscape with grass.
I worried about Jerico eating grass, especially from an area
where it might have been sprayed with chemicals. Who knew what sort of
pesticides grass in or around a parking lot might be subjected to? Even if the
grass wasn’t sprayed with poisons, was it safe for Jerico to eat so much of it?
The Man maintained that dogs naturally eat grass, and since eating grass was
the only thing that made Jerico feel better, it was ok for him to do so.
The Man experimented with other remedies. I drove to a
supermarket late one night to buy a bottle of Pepto-Bismol to cure Jerico’s ills.
The Man poured a dose of the pink stuff down Jerico’s gullet, and it did seem
to relieve his stomach woes. Baking soda dissolved in water seemed to work even
better. Of course, Jerico didn’t enjoy having anything poured down his throat,
so we often had a dried crust (either pink or white, depending on the remedy)
on the floor on the morning after one of his attacks.
If no humans were around when an attack happened and Jerico
couldn’t get to grass, he would eat anything he thought might help. Unfortunately,
what his dog brain thought might help never did. Once I left a long, thin strip
of sheet hanging in the bathroom of the fifth wheel. (I was sure I’d find a use
for it eventually.) The Man came home to
find Jerico had eaten it (then puked it back up) in a fit of acid reflux.
Another time when we went on a hike that lasted waaay longer than we thought it
would, Jerico chewed the portion of the plastic garbage bag that hung over the
edge of the trash can. Luckily, he puked that up too. The Man lived in fear
that Jerico would eat a plastic grocery store bag (or something equally
dangerous) if he were to have an attack while we were away. Jerico didn’t stay
home alone much.
We tried planting grass near the fifth wheel in the Sonoran Desert. I bought special organic “cat grass,” and The Man planted it, but it didn’t grow. I think it might have done better in a planter instead of going directly into the ground.
In retrospect, I see how Jerico’s bouts of acid reflux were
getting more frequent. The Man must have recognized it too, even if only on a
subconscious level. He did some research on diet and acid reflux and found that
beef can exacerbate the condition. Jerico didn’t know it, but he’d had his last
can of wet dogfood as a treat. He did get canned mackerel sometimes, when The
Man could find a brand with no added salt or oil. The Man also switched Jerico
to a dry food with salmon as the first ingredient. Jerico’s stomach seemed to
do better for a while.
We’d gone into town early one day to take showers and do other errands. When I went to the parking lot after my shower, I saw The Man pulling the truck behind the building. I met him in the back where he’d let Jerico out to eat grass. I knew this meant Jerico was suffering from an attack. Throughout our day, we had to stop several times to let Jerico out to eat more grass. No matter how much he ate, it didn’t seem to help.
At home, he was no better. He kept trying to find something,
anything he could eat to help relieve his discomfort. Unfortunately, there was
no grass growing anywhere on our property. Finally, The Man (who was working to
get our solar power system up and running) asked me to drive Jerico somewhere
with grass he could eat. I ended up
driving about three miles before I found some actual grass growing.
I parked the truck on the edge of the road, and Jerico and I crept through the barbed wire fence to get to the patches of deep green grass. I felt like the father of the unborn Rapunzel stealing arugula from the witch to satisfy his wife’s cravings, but what else could I do? I didn’t want to send Jerico to the other side of the fence alone. What if he saw a rabbit and bolted? What if a coyote or a half-wild dog came along and wanted to fight? I felt safer trespassing with him.
I let him eat to his heart’s (stomach’s) content, then
loaded him back into the truck. I hoped it was safe to take him home now.
At home he continued to swallow excessively. His stomach
still hurt. He wanted more grass.
The Man mixed up some baking soda with water and poured the
concoction down Jerico’s throat. We tried to keep the pup calm while we gave
the remedy time to work. He was obviously uncomfortable and wanted to pace.
I wonder if dogs can
have Zantac, The Man muttered, reaching for the phone to ask Google.
Turns out dogs can have Zantac. I got in the truck and made a trek to town to get the medication. Nearly two hours later, I got home with my precious cargo. The Man cut on of the tablets in half and pushed it down Jerico’s throat. We again tried to keep him calm, and this time after about half an hour, the medication actually worked. We were all able to get some rest that night.
About a week later, Jerico was at it again. We got home from
another day of errands. Jerico jumped from the truck and started eating from clumps
of grass The Man had recently transplanted. Thus began 18 hours of hell.
First he ate more grass than I’d ever seen him ingest. He
literally ate the newly transplanted grass to death.
When we brought him inside, he stayed in front of the door
and paced. When we let him go outside again, he headed straight to the grass
and started chomping on it again. This pattern was repeated throughout the
At a quarter to six, the Man gave Jerico half a Zantac.
Again, we tried to keep him calm while the medication did its magic. He never
calmed down. He continued to swallow and pace. The medicine did no magic.
Around six o’clock, The Man wondered if we should make an
emergency visit to a vet. He called the after-hours number of one of the
veterinary offices in town. He didn’t specifically say his dog was in an
emergency situation, so the woman who answered the phone made an appointment
for us to go in the next day.
The only thing other than eating grass that seemed to ease
Jerico’s distress was going outside and walking. We weren’t sure if he was
soothed by the distraction of the change of scenery or the motion of movement
or by the fact that he was in an upright position (or some combination of the
three factors), but he was calmer when we took him outside. We spent a lot of
time that evening taking Jerico outside, thinking (hoping, praying) he was
better, taking him inside, then realizing he wasn’t better at all.
At ten o’clock The Man decided to give Jerico another half a Zantac. I was afraid it was too soon to give him more, but The Man said obviously the first dose hadn’t done anything to solve the problem. He thought a second dose might make things better for Jerico so we could all get some sleep.
The second dose of Zantac did not allow anyone to get any
sleep. Jerico continued to move around and swallow. When we took him outside
for the last pee of the night, he headed directly to the transplanted clumps of
grass and tried to eat some more.
Around midnight I had Jerico on his leash, walking with him
around our property when he barfed up a wad of grass that had the approximate
look (size, shape, color) of an unshucked cob of corn. Gross! The grass had
come back up, but that didn’t solve the problem.
We continued to walk around past 1am, when I grew too tired
to stand. Jerico and I went into the trailer and got in the bed with The Man
who’d had the pleasure or an hour of sleep.
Jerico never settled down, never stopped swallowing. I got a
few hours of fitful sleep, but Jerico’s distress kept me from resting. Around
5am I took him outside again. Sunrise seemed to bring him some relief, although
he was by no means well. We were glad he had an appointment with a vet for that
day. None of us wanted to spend another night like the one we’d just had.
We arrived at the appointment right on time. Everyone
working at the office was friendly and kind. We were brought into an exam room
with a vet tech; the doctor came in shortly after. The Man explained everything
that had been happening, and the doctor agreed with the diagnosis of acid
reflux. He recommended The Man give Jerico 10 mg of Prilosec every day as a
What about eating
grass? I asked the vet.
He said grass is really hard on a dog’s throat, mouth, and
stomach and we should keep Jerico from eating it if we could.
After nearly two weeks on Prilosec and the special food we
bought at the vet’s office, Jerico hadn’t had a single episode. He hadn’t tried
to eat grass even once, and he only swallowed in a normal manner. I was glad he
was feeling better, and I was glad we were all able to get some sleep.
anyone may contribute or take books [from a Little Free Library]…If you take a book (or two) from a Library, you do not need to return that exact book. However, in order to keep the Little Library full of good choices for the whole neighborhood, the next time you swing by the Library bring a few books to share. Little Library book exchanges function on the honor system; everyone contributes to ensure there are always quality books inside..
The first LFL we visited was Helen’s Little Free Lending Library on 28th Street. The second one we visited was on Cheery Lynn Street. This second visit was really special because we got to meet the Little Free Library steward. She was the first LFL steward I ever met, and out of all the Little Free Libraries I’ve visited in three states and six cities (Los Gatos, CA; Santa Fe and Taos, NM; Flagstaff, Mesa, and Phoenix, AZ) she is the only LFL steward I’ve ever met!
When we pulled up in front of the Little Free Library on Cheer Lynn Street, there was a car in the driveway, and a young-mom type of woman was taking groceries out of the trunk. She totally saw us pull up, so Nolagirl and I decided we should get out of the car and say hi. We explained to the lady that we were on a Little Free Library tour and asked her if she was the steward of this one. She said yes, we said it was really cute, and she went into her house. It was a totally pleasant, brief exchange. (It would be surprising and horrible if a Little Free Library steward were a grouchy, mean person who hated talking to strangers.)
This LFL was constructed of wood that had been stained so
the natural grain showed clearly. I think the upkeep on this one is probably
pretty easy because no paint touchups are required. The sign on the bottom of
the door says that this is a registered LFL with a charter number (65262), but
it doesn’t have an official name like Helen’s Little Free Lending Library.
This LFL held only children’s books, so I didn’t take any. I
didn’t leave any either, since I didn’t have any children’s books to donate. I
felt ok about my role in both situations. I didn’t need any books, and the LFL
was plenty full even if I didn’t leave anything.
Sometime after our visit to Cheery Lynn Street, we went to 11th Avenue, where we found another registered, wooden Little Free Library (charter #10682). This time we did not have the pleasure of meeting the steward. There weren’t many books in this LFL, and I felt sorry I didn’t have a stack to stock it with. What a fun endeavor it would be to drive around with stacks of good books, going from one Little Free Library to another, making sure each one was well stocked with reading material for the people.
Aren’t hippies supposed to be about peace and love?
When I returned to the fuel center with the merchandise that
needed to be restocked, I saw a shirtless, white-haired person looking into one
of the beverage coolers. The person’s hair was longish and worn in low
pigtails, so my first impression was that we had a bare-chested older lady on
the premises. While I was still contemplating the person’s sex and gender, he
stood up and I realized I was looking at a man. He was wearing shorts which
combined with his long hair and shirtless condition led me to suspect he was on
He took a bottle of iced tea out of the cooler and to the
window of the kiosk where my coworker, a young Latino man, was staffing the
I was waiting for my coworker to finish with the customer
and open the door to the kiosk for me. I held a shopping basket full of tobacco
products and idly eavesdropped on the interaction between the coworker and the
The coworker told the customer the price of the bottle of
tea. The customer questioned the price. Wasn’t it only $2 a bottle?
The coworker told the customer
that was the price with the rewards card.
Why didn’t you ask me
for the rewards card? the old hipped challenged while digging in his pocket
for his card.
I’m sure I rolled my eyes, at least metaphorically. Anyone
who has a reward card knows how it works. Anyone who has a rewards card knows
you need to present the card in order to receive a sale price. No sale price is
automatic in a store with a rewards card program.
Perhaps the hippie had forgotten about the rewards card.
Some people do. If he had forgotten, he could have just pulled it out and
presented it, without talking like he was looking for a fight.
And yes, the coworker should have asked for the rewards card
right off. That’s what management would like for sure. However, sometimes we
forget or we’re tired of talking or we just want customers to take
responsibility for their own damn rewards card.
What I didn’t know until later was the hippie’s bottle of
tea was frozen. The cooler it came from had been having problems, and I guess
all the beverages on the bottom shelf had gotten too cold. My coworker pointed
out to the hippie that the tea was frozen and asked him if he was sure he
wanted it. The hippie said he wanted it, paid his money, and left.
My coworker opened the door for me and I gave him the basket
of tobacco products and the scanner so he could review and receive the
merchandise I’d just brought over. While he reviewed and received, I ran my
lunch bag and water bottle to my truck. As I returned to the kiosk, a car
pulled in and stopped between the booth and pump 3. The old hippie jumped from
the car waving the bottle of tea and already ranting. He went up to the kiosk
window, and I could hear him complaining but couldn’t understand what he was
My coworker told me when it was all over that the hippie was
mad because the tea had spilled on him. He said he said he was going to send
the dry cleaning bill to the company we work for. I snorted with laughter.
He wasn’t even wearing
a shirt, I said pointing out the obvious. I was pretty sure his shorts were
not made from some fancy dry-clean-only material. Besides, how was it the fault
of the store or my coworker if the hippie had spilled tea on himself? I spill
food and drink on myself all the time; it’s never anyone’s fault but my own.
I was still standing next to the door when my coworker came
flying out of the kiosk. I took the opportunity to go inside and sit on a
bucket and enjoy the air-conditioned comfort. I thought my coworker had gone
outside to fight the old man, and I wanted no part in that.
My coworker had actually gone outside to take photos of the
old hippie, his car, and its license plate. Apparently the hippie didn’t like
the bottle of tea that had spilled on him (maybe because it was frozen—I’m
unclear on that point), and wanted a different one. When my coworker told him
that he’d have to go to the customer service booth in the store to do an
exchange, the old hippie grabbed another bottle of tea from the cooler and said
he was taking it. That’s when my coworker grabbed his phone so he could get
As soon as the hippie saw my coworker taking photos, he said
he’d just as soon keep his original bottle of tea.
Are we square? Are we
square? he asked my coworker.
My coworker agreed they were square, but then decided to
mess with the irate hippie by smiling broadly and telling him to have a nice day! He then threw in a bye-bye and a God bless!
(What can I say?
my coworker said to me later. I’m a
The warm wishes incensed the already irate hippie, and he
started yelling, You’re a douchebag!
You’re a real douchebag!
Personally, I would have tried to diffuse the situation, but
my coworker is young and hotheaded. He probably has tons of testosterone
coursing through his veins.
I was waiting for him
to step up! my coworker said repeatedly when it was all over.
I was standing like
this, he demonstrated with his fist by his side.
You could have taken
him, I assured him. The hippie was not just old, but super skinny too.
My coworker thought the old hippie was on crack. I would have voted on
meth, but it doesn’t really matter. We both knew he wasn’t flying on love, peace, and weed. His mellow was really harshed, man. He probably should have done a little meditating before he drove to town.