Saturday, July 9, 2016

Sheepdogging It

I drove my wife and daughter to English Country Dancing last night. The past few months they have gone without me. As an introvert, I get pretty much all the social interaction I need living with my wife and an adult daughter.

Earlier this week, though, Laura mentioned to me her concerns over security during the Friday evening dances. I told her that I would drive and watch the door from the parking lot. During my time in the ministry, I had pulled quite a few security gigs, to support my family (and my preaching habit), so I knew the job description.

I took along my laptop, figuring to connect through the free WiFi at McDonald's right next door to the Baptist Church building where they held the monthly folk dances. The signal proved too weak for me to access the web, so I settled in to spend the next three hours just watching.

There's a big difference between watching and just waiting. When you watch, you notice things.

I had picked a spot where I could monitor the one unlocked door as well as the fenced-in area behind the building. A couple of boys, whose parents had come to dance, played outside, occasionally joined by some other children from inside. I noticed, disapprovingly, that the gates on either side of the area stood wide open.

I knew from past experience that pedestrians sometimes cut through that yard as a shortcut. Did their parents not see the open gates? Did they not think to close them before turning their sons loose outside? Well, no matter. I was there. Standing watch.

Laura later told me that the boys' father kept looking out to check on them. He still should have closed the gates.

After a while, the thunder and lightning started. (Why do we say, "thunder and lightning?" The lightning always comes first.) The boys went inside, and I changed my vantage point. Then came a bright flash followed by loud CRACK, and the lights went out.

The traffic light on the corner still worked as did some stadium lights a little way off, but the parking lot lights had gone black. I got out of the van as the rain began to fall more heavily. I had my flashlight in case folks needed to see to exit the building. When I got to the glass door, I could see through the window in the inner door that the building had not lost its lights.

When I looked up, I could see the sodium pole lamps already starting to come back on. I returned to the van, pelted by cool drops that felt good after the humidity and triple-digit heat of the day.

In the course of the evening, some cars pulled into the lot to drop off late comers. One lady exited the door, got into a car and drove away, evidently after dropping off passengers. Then she returned later to pick them up. I wondered if any of them saw me.

I wondered if any of them questioned the presence of an old guy sitting in a van in the lot, just watching. Did the warning light flash in anyone's head? Not likely. Most folks pass through the parking lot the way they pass through life. Things around them never register.

Last night I stood watch. Not for pay. Not because anyone asked me. I stood watch because . . . it's just. . . what I do.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Kicking and Balance

Years ago, my balance problem became really evident in karate class. At the sensei's command, we all stood on one leg, and I struggled to stay upright. The harder I struggled, the more tense I became, and the harder it was to keep from tipping over.

That's why this video from Vladimir Vasiliev (Systema, the Russian Martial Art) caught my attention. I will have to try this out.