Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Life Is An Off-Speed Pitch

Sometimes life throws all fastballs at you. That's when you dig in at the plate, take your swings, and cast a wishful eye toward the outfield fence. Sometimes it throws curve balls. When that happens you really don't know what to expect anymore. The "tried and true" morphs into the "gasping and guessing." I hate it when that happens. Sometimes a screwball gets mixed in and then you might just as well walk back to the dugout and take a seat.

But it is the off speed pitch that leaves me bewildered. You know how it goes. You get used to life's 99mph fastballs and suddenly one comes at you doing ... oh ... 55. Before the ball gets half way to the plate you've swung three times, taken a shower, gone out to lunch, and power napped. This has been an "Off Speed Pitch Week." Let me tell you why.

I have reconnected with a friend who spent six years in my youth group some time back. That means I was his youth pastor and he owes me big time. Anyway, he just graduated from law school, can't find a job, and turned down an opportunity to be an FBI agent. You know them. They are the guys with the truly big guns, the awesome ball caps, and permission to do just about anything they want to do whenever they want to do it. He e-mailed me to ask me to pray for him. Well, sure I will. But how do I pray? He's an unemployed lawyer. I never met one of those before. All you have to do is wait for an ambulance to drive by and then run after it. Right? And the feds offer him a badge and gun and he says, "No thank you." Be aware that if some one offers me a badge and gun I am going to do the happy dance and then clean-up dodge. That is only one reason why this offer will never happen. I would be positively dangerous. Mainly to myself.

My second freaky off-speed pitch came over the weekend when another one of my former teens from my youth ministry days dropped by to visit. Krista is cool. She is one of the famous (infamous?) "K" girls. Kelli, Krista, Kim, and Kristen were all buddies and since Kelli is my daughter they hung out at my house a lot some years back during high school. Krista married an Englishman and moved to jolly old ... someplace. She lives in Britain but I don't know where. So there I find her knocking on my door last Saturday night and I hug her and she starts talking ... foreign talk. She has a perfect British accent. What is with that? She's only been there a few years. I could not have been more surprised if she had sounded like Donald Duck. But no, she's Benny Hill in a dress. I found myself not hearing her words ... just listening to her accent. I wanted to ask her to read Shakespeare to me but I was afraid I would finally understand it. And that would ruin the entire experience.

Did I mention that my friend turned down the opportunity to wear a cool blue windbreaker with FBI written on it? I did? Oh. Sorry.

Sunday afternoon I was going to the Sprint store because my brand new Treo cell phone stopped working and that's not acceptable. I went to four ... count 'em ... FOUR stores before they managed to swallow their pride and swap it out for a new one. But that was not the off-speed pitch of the day. As I was leaving the parking lot I was the second car in line to make a left onto a busy highway. It's known as Clayton Road and you really have to look both ways like ten times before gathering up the courage to make a left. The car in front of me was breaking the worlds record in caution though. I figured it was some little lady who could barely see over the steering wheel because I could not see her over her seats headrest. I waited. I waited. I waited some more. Did I mention that I had been waiting for FOUR HOURS AT FOUR SPRINT STORES and my patience was running short. I almost honked my horn. (I don't do that much because people carry guns and I don't want to tick-off the wrong guy who just might be having a Vietnam flashback or something.) That's when I saw something that made SPRINT, THE COMPANY THAT WASTED FOUR HOURS OF MY SUNDAY AFTERNOON, look like it was staffed by all Jr. Einstein’s. A teenager girl walked out of a store, opened the drivers door of the car with the blinker on in front of me, got in, made a left and was ... gone. Ok, you have to admit that's a new one. Who parks their car in a turn lane with the blinker blinking its little guts out while they run into Starbucks NEXT DOOR TO THAT SLOOOOOW SPRINT STORE and grab a nice Latte? You see why we need more FBI agents? Who is going to stop the stupid people?

The final off-speed pitch (so far) occurred last night. My wife was driving in her Explorer. She was coming home from her brother's condo in St. Louis. It's only 25 miles. She has a GPS. She has a cell phone. She has a full tank of gas. The tires are good. The oil was just changed. What can go wrong? How about two idiot adult males that decide to harass her? They pulled up next to her and noticed that she's a total babe. Then they won't stop driving by her. She slows down so they can pass and they slow down. She speeds up and they speed up. Finally she opened her cell phone and they saw her, prompting them to pull in front of her. Now understand, my wife is brilliant. Really. She is. Except that she didn't DIAL her cell phone. There are numbers to dial on occasions like this. Number like ... oh ... 911? Instead she fakes them out by turning on her blinker so that it looks like she's exiting the expressway. The wise guys do the same thing. Remember, they are in front of her now. So as soon as it's too late for them to change their mind she hits the gas, swerves back to the left, and stays on the expressway. Two exits later she gets off and comes home where she tells me her story. What is a husband to do? Well this one called the non-emergency number of the Illinois State Police. I mean this is a no-brainer. My wife is home safely (thank you, God) but SOMEBODIES WIFE is still out there and these guys are dangerous. So naturally the State Police dispatch a car to check out that part of the highway. Oh wait. No they don't. They say it's her word against theirs. Of course, they didn't go looking for them so we really don't know what their word is. Did I mention that my wife got the make, color, and model of their pick-em-up truck as well as their license number? I told you she was brilliant. (She would have been staggeringly brilliant if she'd called 911.) The police said they had already had one call like that last night so see ... it happens all the time. Hmmmmm. Let me think about this. It had already happened once. And then it happened again. Is that what one might call ... A TREND? Might there be a 3rd attempt? This makes me angry. But I won't tell you how angry because, well, because they have guns.

If we only had more FBI agents this would not happen. (I hope you sleep well tonight, Bo. Geez, you even have a cool FBI sounding name, for crying out loud. What were you thinking?)

I hear that it reached 101 degrees today. I have a nice air conditioned Mustang I can drive to work. It's all emerald green with a 6 CD changer and really cool looking. I walked right by it and roared off on Ron-duh the motorcycle. Within minutes I was sitting on a 300-degree engine. Wearing a helmet. Maybe ... Just maybe I am the biggest off-speed pitch of all?