Sunday, April 29, 2012

Today's WTF: Saving a Life on Facebook

The internet is a powerful thing.  Disconnected people come together and feel connected.   At the same time, people are disconnecting from their real lives to connect with friends they make on Facebook. 

I have a Facebook page that over 12,500 people like.  Sometimes they are known as "fans" or "followers."  I back away from those terms because I am neither a celebrity nor a leader.   I just say “likers” with ironic air quotes and leave it at that.  Mostly I see they are people who enjoy my humor and maybe recognize themselves in some of what I joke about.  It is ridiculously gratifying and I take enormous pride in how witty they see me.  I’m kind of a big deal.  On the internet to people I don’t know, but it feels like I do.   So much so that I feel comfortable enough to bare my very soul in some very personal writing.  

When Timeline came around, I said I was worried about the "message page" feature.  I was all worried that the Nutjobs would be messaging me to send them bales of hay in FarmVille  or to read their poetry or promote their video of a canary tap dancing across their sleeping dog or whateverthefuck thing they need me to do.  

“So, just turn it off,” said my page admin friends.  If I turned the messaging feature off, I might keep the bombardment at bay.  And I do turn the feature off, sometimes.  Sometimes I get crap from people who probably don’t even realize how what they are saying sounds.   I have to shut that out.  My tough talk is just an act.  I’m a very fragile Nutjob who can read criticism into the morning weather report.  

But what I came to tell you is this: I saved a life on Facebook!   I can’t believe my restraint.  I waited *five* paragraphs to get to the only thing I wanted to say.  I fucking *saved* a life on Facebook.  A woman was sick and hurting and alone and maybe going to hurt herself.    I chatted with her for a bit, but she started getting vague and scary.  I didn’t know what might happen.  So I fucking looked up Emergency Services in her town and fucking called them up.  I said “This is going to sound really weird but there is a woman in your town and she is sick and she gave me her address and I am a time zone away but I wonder if you would go check on her.”  And of course they wanted to know all kinds of things like who I was and how did I know her and why did I think this was happening and I just said, “I’ll be happy to chat with you while you drive to her house, but really, don’t you think you should hang up now and head on over?”  Then I hung up and chewed my nails and wondered what to do next.  But it was late and I have to take care of myself too so I took my head meds and went to bed.

When I woke up the next morning, I wanted to know what had happened but at the same time I didn’t.   I just kept my fingers crossed that if she really needed help, she was able to get it.  I didn’t want to think about any alternatives, including the one where she was totally fine and maybe now a little irritated with me for getting all dramatic.  I didn’t really know what to think.  

Then my cell phone rang and I didn’t recognize the number.  I just picked it up and said my name in my usual business-like manner.  There was silence for a moment, then a voice began speaking.  It was the woman I had phoned the night before, the dispatcher from emergency services.  She wanted to let me know that they *did* go out to that woman's place to check on her, and she *had* been in trouble and alone and they *had* brought her in and she was okay now in the hospital.  She would be going home in a day or so.  She didn’t want to talk to me, but she wanted the staff to make sure I knew and to thank me.  

“How do you know her, again?”  The woman seemed incredulous at the way the whole evening had gone down.  “You’ve never really met, but you have a blog and run a page on Facebook and this woman reached out to you and you phoned us from another state?”  She kept repeating these phrases and I could see her in my mind, shaking her damn head as she thought about it.  “That is really amazing.”  I agreed.  I was shaking my own damn head and getting chills at the thought of what would have happened had I not pushed past my fears and called.  I saved a life.  My page and I. Saved. A. Life. 

I am blinking back tears as I type this.  You never know the effect you can have on people.  It is a blessing and a curse and a huge responsibility.  I cannot do this every day.  I have to turn the message feature off.  I simply cannot handle it.   Because we joke about it a lot on my page, my whole Ron Burgundy shtick, “I’m kind of a big deal.”  But goddamnit.  I guess I really am.  How great and terrifying and tear-inducing is that?  

Namaste, bitches.  We out.  With more love that you can possibly imagine.  For all of you bat-shit crazy Nutjobs.  Take care of yourselves.  Be good to one another.  <Imagine me ruffling your hair as I squeeze you so tight it might make it difficult to breathe>  Now get out of here.  Goddamnit.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

It's a Rant, It's a Rave, it's Pantless Wednesday!

Tax season was over and I had a day off.  I called it "Pantsless Wednesday" and made a big deal about it on my page.  I *think* it was funny.  You never know how these things are going to go over.  But here’s the thing about Pantsless Wednesday.  It’s a metaphor <ed. note: Really!>  Yah, because it wasn’t really about not wearing physical pants.  I seriously could not do that.  Even if there were no one around.  I mean, I have leather furniture.  Sticky.  Like riding in a car on a hot day with shorts on and no AC.  No.  Pantsless Wednesday was about shedding the pants of everyday responsibility.  Do what I want to do when I want to do it, because goddamnit I’m entitled.  One fucking day.  Oh, poor me.  

But you knew that.  You knew it wasn’t about going around without pants on, though that’s funny to say and think about.  More just about not holding your stomach in, not answering the phone, flipping off the computer screen when you open up an email from the goddamn motherfucking PTA.   Please.   Just a day where you don’t have to think about anybody else but yourself and maybe your dog.  Because if you are going to make it through your life without opening a vein, you are going to have to have a day now and again to regroup.   

My next door neighbor actually uses that word with her two-year-old.  “Do you need to regroup? I think you need to regroup.”  Seriously?  He’s two.   I can’t decide if this is reprehensible or hilarious or both.  I may end up deciding that it’s very cool.  I haven’t got my neighbor figured out yet.  I have so very little figured out.  It’s troubling.  Anyway.  She says “You need to regroup” instead of “You need a time out.” Which is what we said to our kids fifteen years ago.  When I was a kid they didn’t say anything.  You just got a look.

I learned a lot on Pantsless Wednesday.    To wit:

There is a streetsweeper in my town.  That comes to my neighborhood on Pantsless Wednesday.  Cul-de-sacs too.  Even tiny ones like mine where the driver has to make a three-point turn to get all the way around the car that was thoughtlessly parked there by some dumbshit who didn't know there was a streetsweeper in her neighborhood on Pantsless Wednesday.  Oops.

On Pantsless Wednesday, the bike trail is pleasantly quiet at 10:30 a.m.    On Pantsless Wednesday, the same is true for the lap pool at 2:00 p.m.  But pants or no pants, two workouts in one day are  not as good for an aging body as they are for an aging soul.

On Pantsless Wednesday, I learned that my daughter's coffee is almost as good as mine, but also way better than mine.  I didn’t make it, she did.  That adds a dimension to the flavor that is indescribably delicious.   Even better, she left for school before I got up.  Thank you, baby.

On Pantsless Wednesday, I learned that apparently I mean a lot to the staff at my local Trader Joe's.  Three of them stopped to smile at me and ask me where I'd been for the last few weeks.  The guy in the liquor department was a little disappointed to see that he'd be working harder to keep the shelves stocked, though, now that I'll be a regular there again.  But in general, the mood was upbeat.  

Everyone needs Pantsless Wednesday now and again.  Everyone needs to shake off that squeezy feeling in their chest that something’s fucked up and people are looking at you and shaking their heads and wondering why you haven’t fixed it yet.  Everyone needs to run in the sunshine with their dog when the trail is not crowded.  Everyone needs to regroup.  Like a two year old.  Like a boss.  Like a two-year-old boss.