I’ve described Elko before. As Lands of Enchantment go, it ranks poorly. But Elko was where I grew up. And so it follows that Elko is where I learned many of my Life Lessons. Here is one:
Your First Reaction May Be The Wrong One
My family had a paper route in Spring Creek, just over the hill from Elko. The area was rural enough that you had to drive if you wanted to deliver the papers. Mailboxes resided in ugly clusters every mile or so.
Usually my mom took care of the paper route. This meant smooth sailing. One fine day, my sisters had to deliver the papers. This means mayhem. We all expected it to go badly–everyone did but the sisters–but by nightfall, that fateful trip would have exceeded all of our wildest doomsday predictions.
Nobody has ever accused her of being rational, but this…
Here is how the paper route worked. You would drive up to a cluster of mailboxes and put the newspapers in them. Sometimes you had to get out of the car, most times you didn’t. The end…usually.
My sisters were driving down one of the many rutted dirt roads. They are barely wider than one lane and so pitted that you can’t get above 30mph without shaking your fillings out.
While they were on this road, a grasshopper jumped up from the floor board onto my sister’s vulnerable chest.
Things you might do in the same situation:
- Swat it away
- Roll down the window and let it out
- Ignore it
- Slow down and open the door to shoo it out of the car
- Smash it
Here’s what she did
One milisecond after that murderous grasshopper “went after her throat,” my sister was rolling over and over on the rutted roads. She leaped from the moving car at at least 15mph, possibly more. The car went into a ditch and hit a pole, my other sister still inside.
Hearing her version of the events is a fascinating study in knee-jerk madness and delusional rationalization.
“What was I supposed to do?” she still says.
“It was a grasshopper!” she still says.
When we ask why she didn’t consider the fate of her sister, still in the car when she abandoned it: “Better her than me. It was a grasshopper!”
Perhaps I’m being unfair. I don’t know what grasshoppers are like where you live. In Spring Creek, Nevada, they are about one inch long and are usually pretty good at sublimating their murderous urges into more productive pursuits, like eating the farmer’s eggplants. I take it back…I am being fair.
The power of visualization
If confronted by such a creature, would you have behaved differently? Could you have behaved any differently? You might do well to scrutinize your first reaction in certain situations. If you know how you’re likely to react, get yourself some visualization exercises. It’s never too early to start mentally rehearsing how to cope with that first grasshopper assault.
“I won’t jump out of the car, I won’t jump out of the car, I won’t jump out of the car. I’m a winner, I’m sane, They’re more afraid of me than I am of them…”
“Go with your gut” is great advice for people whose guts aren’t full of insect dread and lunatic potion.
Stories change over time. I admit that this one still confuses me and will do so until I am in my grave.
Advice from my sister that you would do well to heed: “Never turn your back on a grasshopper. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
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