Disaster Story; Is it some kind of Joke or What?

GT-H2O-DZ 13

Congratulations on surviving Dec 21 2012, the much ballyhooed ‘End of Time’ according to Mayan Mystics. Did you think it was some kind of  joke; think again. These stories have been around since the beginning of time.  You know about the Great Flood? Noah and his ark? Everybody died but Noah and his people. Listen, these stories have a grain of truth. They tell me “If life were a raft trip, you may be drifting in the slack water now, but there are rapids on the river, you better get ready—or suffer the consequences.

True personal disaster story; about mid December, I was frantic–looking for Noah. That’s right; it’s about my house. A strange hissing sound like water running. Do you hear it? I sure did. Were the Mayans right? Could that sound be the floodgates opening? I checked all the toilets and faucets in my house. Nary a drip anywhere. Then I checked my outdoor water spickets. There, right next to my arbor vitae—something new–a bubbling spring.

How’s that? What did it mean?

Oh no. My problem wasn’t plumbing inside the house, it was plumbing outside the house. My water line, buried two feet down had burst. If all the water soaking into the ground around my house hadn’t flooded my basement yet, it will. Plus; it’s metered water. That won’t be cheap.

Not only that. I live on the side of a hill. If my house slides down to the highway, I’ll have to get it licensed as a motor vehicle and take it in to DEQ for  motor vehicle inspections every two years. Nuts to that!

Now I don’t have the tool to turn the water off at the meter, do you? I’m pleased to report that before you can say ‘Hurry on down to the hardware store,’ my City Water responded to my emergency call. Workers were out to the house. They turned my water off.

Were my problems over? No. I need a plumber; like now! Instinctively, I reach for my yellow pages. Have you forgotten about the yellow pages? The Aardvark Alpha Plumbing AAAAAA… knows the yellow pages well. They had five identical full page ads sprawled all over the plumbing section. How could I call anyone else? Their dispatcher even said it– “Don’t you call anyone else. Our man will be there in the hour. He’ll have you back in water by lunch time for sure. After three more phone calls, Aardvark Alpha AAAAAA… finally did show up. He could get my water back for only $5,000. Does that sound steep? It sounded steep to me, too. But the Aardvark man said it was a good deal, adding “A disreputable plumber would have charged me $12,000. Good old johnny-on-the-spot Aardvark AAAAAA… even threw in a Mayan calendar. Turns out the only way he could get my water back by lunch, was through a garden hose. “See you next week,” he said and left.

That’s when the other plumbers started showing up, the ones I called before Aardvark Accidental.  The second contractor quoted me half of Aardvark Alpha’s price, but no Mayan calendar, not even one mention of Noah, either. The third contractor Metro Plumbing, came by. He was not only pleasant, but quoted a third the price of Aardvark AAAAAAA… Wait a minute. Talk is cheap. I’m living in the 21st century. Why don’t I Google these contractors? For good measure I yahooed ‘em and yelped em, too. I even looked at the complaints filed with the State Construction Contractors Board. Did I get an eyeful. There are some bad operators out there swindling a gullible public.

Wouldn’t you know it, Aardvark Alpha AAAAAA… was at the top, or should I say bottom of the sleaze ball opportunist leak-chasing bad operators, list. The lowest of the low. They almost got kicked out of the state. In this case the early bird didn’t get the worm. The early bird was the worm! I called up Aardvark Alpha A-hole lot of A’s immediately to cancel my contract.

Then my friendly realtor neighbor came by. He saw my yard all tore up. I told him of my experience with the three plumbing companies.

He asked who’d I go with?

“Metro Plumbers,” I said.

He said “Good choice. I would have recommended them myself. Why, I had lunch with Mike Metro just last week. And the next time something like this happens, call me. I can recommend plumbers, painters, windows, HVAC guys. I know who does good work…and who’s going to work you over.”

Disasters, floods, fires, financial house of cards implosions; the end of the world. Oh yeah, these things are going to happen. Life is like a raft trip and there are rapids on this river. Be prepared,  know your equipment, at home, at work, in the community and in the world; how to take care, and who to call with the river starts rising. The sleazy operators don’t stand a chance if we can all work together. Let’s run Aardvark Alpha Awfuls –out of business.

If you enjoyed this story, Ted Magnuson has written The Bouchard Legacy, about a fourth generation family business that changed with the times 1968-1979.

Link to the Bouchard Legacy

The Grand Staircase of Life

The Grand Staircase of Life

A friend of mine once explained it all to me. Life is like a giant staircase—something on the scale of the Grand Canyon. You go through periods of intense activity and growth, climbing up a step or two but then a year might go by, or two, where you consolidate stuff, don’t learn much, and just put life on autopilot. “It’s less hectic that way,” he explained.

His analogy may be very apt—depending on which plateau you happen to be on at the time. For the analogy does break down, doesn’t it? The ‘Staircase of Life’ aren’t necessarily navigated on autopilot.

The ‘prompts to climb,’ the times for growth, change, turmoil; call it what you will are many, are sudden, and can be trying.

The appearance of a ‘staircase’ could be as simple as boredom, or a new assignment at work. It could be as intense and tumultuous as the loss of a job, or of someone close to us. Whatever it is, crises/growth/the spur to change…happens. Can we choose to ignore change? Will it then go away?

Not in this life!

Change is inevitable. Our response to change is what makes all the difference.

In his book ‘A Stranger’s Gift,’ Tom Hallman describes how on Sept 11, his flight home to Portland from Chicago got grounded. He spent the next two days coming home on Amtrak. Conversations at dinner with fellow passengers prompted him to ask the larger questions; what did he want out of life, what direction was his life taking?

As a result of this train trip, Tom Hallman changed. He took a spiritual journey, which he generously laid out for us in his book ‘A Stranger’s Gift.’

Now, change is admittedly difficult. There is something in human nature isn’t there, that stubbornly insists “That’s the way it’s always been and always will be.”

But whether we see them or not, these facts, these prompts for change happen. We are the better for it, then; if we train ourselves to both recognize and act on these prompts for change.

How?

Mainly, I believe, by the people we meet, the books we read, the broadening of our experience that we do in times when we are ‘on the plateaus’ of life.

Then when it’s climb time, we are ready.

In my own life, this past month saw the release of my novel The Bouchard Legacy. I have been working on this change, this project, this book for the past 15 years! Several things prompted me to write this book. And I could easily have ignored them. But having acted on them, look what I’ve got: my very own book. You may have heard it said; “Everyone has a book inside them? Or as Paul of Tarsus said “We are all books written by God.”

That being so, now I know that at least in my book, there are pages with stuff written on them!   Hoo Haa!

How about your book? Are there pages with good stuff written on them? I hope so, for all our sakes.

If my own case rings true, I know there won’t be much good stuff on the page if I haven’t gone to the trouble of putting it there. Good doesn’t’ happen on autopilot.

How then does it take place?

Lately there’s been some talk about ‘hope.’

But what is hope?

A cure-all panoply?

Some kind of sleight of hand, woo-woo hocus pocus?

How can we nail hope down?

What if we reframe the concept of hope as believing?

Once we believe there is a solution.

We believe that we can tackle the job before us.

Then achievement is possible.

In my own situation, I’d always enjoyed reading, the idea of writing a book had always appealed to me, but it wasn’t until I decided I would believe, that I took steps towards writing my book. Suddenly, opportunities began to appear.

A writer’s conference is announced in the news; I will go.

A cheap computer/word processor appears at a garage sale; I buy.

I plug it in; it works!

And so day by day, change took place and now I have a book to my name. Hoo Haa!

Whatever the stimulus for change may be for you; an uneasy feeling, ominous undertones at work, a pink slip, a personal tragedy or even an unconscionable streak of good fortune, first keep your head.

Believe.

Next: Be alert to your opportunities, your resources and your direction.

Finally; the last step is much the same as the first: Keep believing.

Again, to my own example. My novel, The Bouchard Legacy is about a family whose wealth is about to be passed on, possibly to a fourth generation.  It’s about coming of age in the mid America of the 1970’s.

It’s about the journey from child to adult, boy to man, girl to woman, perhaps one of the most phenomenal changes of them all.

I offer this book to you as a proof, a product of what happens when we accept the challenge change presents to us.

What changes would you like to see in your life?

What changes in the world around you?

Can you can be that change?

About that staircase in your life? Is that a wall you see before you now…or a step?

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