Out on our garage floor is a 25-pound bag of that ice-melt stuff to put on the sidewalk if needed. With any luck at all we won't need the stuff, and leaving it on the garage floor is probably not a good idea; so I may have to get around someday to finding a better place to put it.
The bag was a follow-up purchase from Sam's Hardware here in Brazil. I'd purchased a 5-pound canister earlier. However, last year Sam and everybody else in town ran out of ice-melt before the last snow storm; so this year I decided to stock up a bit. Whenever I need any hardware/home-improvement type thing I always go first to Sam's. Sam Crawn is one of the most helpful, knowledgeable and gregarious retailers in town.
When the young man was carrying it out to the van I informed him he was being very patriotic. As with most of my laconic "humor", he didn't have a clue what I meant. I explained that if I'd carried something that heavy a comparable distance it would surely cause chest pains. (It's actually more complicated than that, but I didn't go into any explanation.) If I have chest pains someone always wants to call 911 and those EMT guys always want to talk you into going to the hospital "to check things out and be sure." As one E.R. doctor told me, my family's health history alone would get me a night in any hospital in America anytime I wanted. So, just because I was too macho to let someone carry the bag I'd spend a night at Union Hospital, go through their battery of tests, and be sent home the next morning. After all, "insurance will pay for it".
The problem is, as I explained to the young man as we went out the door, I'm on Medicare. My having chest pains would mean someone would send a bill to Uncle Sam for about $10,000. It has been reliably reported that our dear Uncle Sam is a little hard-up for hard cash just now. Keeping me out of an ambulance was, therefore, a patriotic act!
I have developed my own personal bailout plan to help out good old Uncle Sam and avoid being personally responsible for the national debt:
First, I am going to buy local whenever possible. This will keep my money helping the local economy; and for the most part I can get hold of my wife so she can talk people out of turning me in to 911.
Second, I am going to let some young and strong (and not too bright) young man carry anything over 5 pounds. I'm still too out-of-date and chauvinistic to ask a girl for help.
And, this past Sunday as the snow fell I convinced Kay it'd be unpatriotic for me to spread the ice-melt myself. Hey, might as well ride this thing as far as it will go.
So, if you see me on the street feel free to offer to do things for me I could just as easily do for myself. I'll let you. It's not that I'm inherently lazy, just patriotic.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.