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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rough Day at the Office, Dear?

I had a "nice" post waiting in the wings. I just wanted to read it through a time or two and tidy up anything requiring that. I'll still post it in a day or two, but today things took a sharp veer from what one expects and . . . . . I am kind of not myself. I'm not decorating this post with images that amuse me and I am not charmed by much at all. There is nothing in my ears right now.

Our phones aren't ringing. I get wrapped up in knots about this, while David gets quiet and philosophical. He has a wise business plan, we've cut expenses to the bone, we've not cut quality service in any way and we can survive some number of months even if we lose money. Some number of months. While the economy recovers. Uh-huh.

I like the gathering of our flock of seagulls on the deck in the morning - some of us are sleepyheads, I've already walked miles in the morning, some are quiet, others are already laughing. My little birds start to chirp as the office comes to life and there is usually some good-natured dishing back and forth. This morning was no different. Until I cleared voicemail and began to count up the cancellations. Cesar and Justin each volunteered good naturedly to "take a day". Matt had a pretty iffy job and we later added a nice one for him. We sat in my large office and the guys regaled me with tales of their "going to the fights" at the M Resort on Saturday evening. I remember being young and able to roar all night long . . . .

When the two were ready to go home for the day, they all strolled out for cigarettes and goodbyes. I saw four or five disappear down the stairs slowly. Then I saw four or five race back up the stairs with odd looks on their faces. I know them well. Something was up. They all rushed to the deck railing in the narrow area between my front doors and our little barn. "What the heezy?" I thought. Finally one of them stuck his head in my door and said - no fun in the voice - "Limes, there's a dead body out here." "What?" "In the staircase on the building next door. Metro is out here in force." "Can you see the person?" "Barely. They are sitting in the stairway. We can see the top of the head." "Maybe they're only injured." "No, Limes."

I stepped out on the deck and walked toward the railing which hits me at chest level. I looked down into the parking lot and toward the building next door, just across the block wall, 100 feet from where I was standing. "Want a boost up the railing, Limes?" "No. I don't. I don't see anything, homes. I mean I don't see a person anywhere. I do see all the officers and the yellow tape and the workers being blocked from coming into their offices." So they helped me to focus on the dark spot that was a person's head and on the blood on the stucco building. They pointed out the orange cones being placed near what seemed to be bullet casings and called my attention to the fact that the officers were gathering cigarette butts from the ground with gloved hands. The helicopter came, and not for me this time.

We all handled it differently. Those who were not going to work for the day eventually drifted off. Matt hung over the railing for hours, fascinated. We were close enough to this activity that we could hear the discussions quite clearly, and the officers didn't ask us to back away. When the scene had been secured to the satisfaction of seemingly everyone, some officers proceeded up the stairs, guns drawn. We saw them come back with the man's backpack and duffel bag. We saw them nod the coroner's assistant up the stairs. We watched as they opened the backpack and duffel bag which contained guns, an enormous sword, and what appeared to be a tremendous amount of pot. Crime scene technicians swarmed, just like on CSI. Matt commented about the photographer, "Look, Limes, she's a small, older lady. Could you do that for a job?" "No, I don't think so, Matt."

It went on for hours. I needed to work as David had asked Troy to run our company today so I could complete some projects for his new business venture. I had to tell Matt he couldn't delay leaving for his job any longer. I worked hard and efficiently. My mind drifted a little, however. I was outraged by the indignity of being killed outside, having one's body seated in a concrete stairway for hours, strangers poking, prodding, photographing the body one lived in . . . one's person becoming an object of public curiosity. I was unsettled and unnerved.

It happened that I needed to walk next door on the deck to David's other office. The clouds had rolled in from the storms in California and the wind screamed. Because I am a woman who looks at the trainwreck when she drives past, I walked to the railing and looked over again to see . . . . no sign that anything out of the ordinary had occurred there. Metro was meticulous about taking down every shred of yellow tape. Only the blood spatter on the stucco suggested something different had happened here today. That outraged me, too. Business as usual. Move on. An hour later a crew dressed in biohazard suits were scrubbing at the blood and now there really is no sign that anything unusual occurred.

Our office is in a good area. The building next door where the shooting occurred houses medical and dental offices. Why this act of violence occurred, I do not know. But it has bothered me. Last Thursday at staff meeting, we had "the talk". The talk about how in the dark months (they've already started), I will be in an office alone on the back side of our commercial plaza that everyone deserts an hour before I leave. No one on any street (we're on an intersection) can see me or hear me. We talked about the tinted windows preventing me from being able to see who walks toward me across the deck unless I turn out the office lights. We talked about how un-funny it would be to come in from a late job and try to scare the bejesus out of Limes, because she may just have a heart attack. Or at least a panic attack. But I feel panicky now. A little hinky.

I do not carry a backpack and a duffel bag full of guns and a sword and lots of pot. I zoom down the stairs at the end of my day with my purse and my totebag on my arm, through the bright security lights and sprint to my car. Sometimes there are people in the parking lot visiting Nevada Youth Soccer Organization or Angel Blessings Wellness Spa. I know the shooting must have involved personal business between the dead man and whomever was angry enough to murder him. But I feel less secure. I feel less sure of myself. I feel less strong.

David mostly stayed out of the line of fire today. He is busy. He does not like drama. He likes serenity. At one point he came to my desk. I think he was checking to see how I was doing with it. He quietly said, "Well, I'm glad we didn't come and find a dead man on our stairs this morning." Well, yes, there's always that.


  1. Just like walking Limes, One foot in front of the other until whatever it is is past. This brings it too close and too personal. A bit of fear, a bit more caution are in order. I want to fix it. I hate feeling helpless. You will get through this too.

  2. That's a good, logical approach, Tag. Tuck one's head down and keep walking. It reminds me how much one wants to be in control - to make sure nothing "bad" happens. Then something bad does happen and it's pointed out that we really are not in control of much of anything. Reminder to self: Limes, you don't control the world and what happens in it.

  3. A while back a nearby building in my apartment complex caught on fire. My sister called wanting to know if it was my buildng. No, I said. Me and and a lot of other people were just spectators, watching the firemen put out the flames. Fortunately nobody was hurt. I know it sounds terrible, but I found the whole thing a little exciting. I wouldn't have found it at all exciting had it been my building. Since then, when I've thought about it, it's been there but for the grace of God-chance-fate-Lady Luck goes I. Like there's not already enough shoes ready to drop. This isn't cheering you up at all, is it? Um, go re-read what Tag said.

    A sword in a backpack?

  4. I understand the fascination after watching Matt entranced for hours yesterday. He wasn't being a grim person, taking delight in the death of another human. He was simply drawn in watching all the officers and technicians do their work. I was too emotional to get pulled into CSI.

    The sword was in a sizable duffel bag with so much pot it probably weighed what I weigh.

  5. Yikes, what a thing to have happen right outside your front door! It would creep me out, more than a little. I hate it when I stay too late at school and am the only one walking across the parking lot. I keep my keys in one hand and cell phone in the other.

  6. Understood and agreed, Dooz. I pride myself on not being Bambi in the high beams about everything. But sometimes I feel vulnerable or not able to handle things I'm faced with. Yesterday, my BFF reminded me how strong I am and that nobody has the coping skills to deal with an unexpected dead person outside the door. I said, "Yes, and I probably did as well as expected, but I have a tremendous need to talk about it and to announce that I question whether I can deal with it." I liked something she said. "You were grieving a loss, Limes. The loss of a human being and the loss of your sense of security."

  7. Well, as a former shooting victim, I'm glad to say I'm not lieing dead on the ground. That's about the only thing that will get our local police department's interest.

  8. I am a walker like you and I always say there's no trouble I can't walk away.

    Even I couldn't walk away the stain of an image like that. So sorry this happened to you.

  9. @ Badger - as I was telling you on e-mail this morning, Badge, the news hasn't reported anything about this. They report the name of the East Bonanza Road car crash victim visiting from Utah, but nothing about a guy shot dead (who had guns and weapons) in the staircase of a local business in a decent enough area. Oh! It might scare the tourists away.

    @ Erin - thank you. I have found out a lot about myself by watching my reactions to this. I'm learning about myself. I am learning my truest feelings about privacy and dignity. I know - as my BFF pointed out - that I AM really strong. But if I can't verbalize - I mean talk it and chew it to death - I'm pretty sure I'd explode.