I was smacking my forehead a lot yesterday as I remembered more and more things that happened in February which made it a very noteworthy month contrary to how much I down played it before.
Most importantly was my 33-year-old brother getting diagnosed with testicular cancer on February 11th. He had gone into the Cleveland Clinic to have a tumor removed and everyone--doctors included-were optimistic that the tumor would be benign. Unfortunately, the test results proved differently and he did in fact have cancer and had to undergo a second major surgery in 4 days. He's doing good. He's recovering well at home and again everyone is optimistic that all of the cancerous cells have been removed. They're waiting until he recovers fully from the 2 surgeries before talking about chemo.
My family felt like the metaphorical rug had been pulled out from beneath our feet when we were given the test results on February 11th. We've always considered ourselves blessed to be such a large family and to all be here relatively happy and healthy. It's so easy to lose someone close to you, but my parents and 5 siblings have only seen our numbers grow. We've been dealt our fair share of scares including my father's 2 heart attacks, but we've always made it through--we've always remained whole--and we fully intend to keep doing so.
The rest of the noteworthy things I remembered from February truly pale in comparison to my brother but they have altered my life as well.
My company announced mandatory Shutdown Days beginning in February and lasting at least through the end of this year. What they've done is designated one day each month--it was February 17th this time--in which the company will completely shut down, the employees will take the day off, and we won't be paid for it. The idea is to save 2 weeks worth of payroll by the end of the year, and hopefully, along with other cost cutting measures, it will be enough to save our jobs. I can't argue with that. School budgets are getting hacked by the economy right now, and considering the majority of our revenue comes from school libraries, we are in a very tight pinch.
Again, I have to consider myself fortunate. I can afford to lose 2 weeks pay when it's spread throughout the year. I can't, however, afford to lose my job, not when finding a replacement is next to impossible around here. I'll accept whatever measures my company has to take in order to keep me employed. I can't afford not to.
Lastly, and this is going to sound silly that I consider it life-altering, but earlier this month I was pulled over for the first time in my 9 years of driving.
I was on my way home from my parents house when I was stopped for "rolling through a flashing red". The police cruiser was parked at the Army Reserve building roughly 200 feet from the 4 way stop with flashing red lights and I saw them clear as day despite it being after 10:00PM. I immediately checked my speed, which was hovering just under the speed limit, and drove passed. I went through the intersection, stopping as I usually do (which apparently wasn't enough), looked in all 3 remaining directions, and continued to drive home.
I wasn't 500 feet passed the 4 way stop when the cruiser pulled up behind me and turned its lights on. I pulled over immediately, rolled down both front windows when I saw there were 2 officers climbing out of the cruiser, turned off the car, and watched in the rear view mirror as they surveyed the houses around us and slowly walked to either side of my car. The officer at my driver's side door told me I was pulled over for rolling through a flashing red, asked for my driver's license, verified that my address was really only 2 streets over, and asked if I'd ever been pulled over for rolling through a flashing red.
I told them that I was sorry, that I thought I had made a complete stop, and no, I had never been pulled over for rolling through a stop, that this was actually the first time I'd ever been pulled over. The officer handed my license back to me, told me to drive safely, and they both headed back to the cruiser. I may have been stopped for the first time, but I wasn't going to get a ticket. I was shaking, relieved, and a little pissed off at the same time.
I guess I should explain that I have a problem with authority figures. I don't have a problem listening or following directions from authority figures, but they scare me half to death, almost to the point where I can't function properly. I'm so afraid of being in trouble or not pleasing that I actually make myself look guilty. As I write this and read it back to myself, it sounds like I was perfectly calm and collected while speaking to these officers, but I was actually a nervous wreck. My voice was high pitched and shaky. I didn't answer in proper English or full sentences, and I stuttered a lot. I was a little surprised when they didn't just slap the cuffs on me right away because this girl had to have done something wrong to be so nervous.
I was a little pissed off because getting pulled over didn't go down at all like it does on television and therefore how I had pictured it. They didn't take the time to look up my record. They didn't ask for proof of insurance or registration. They pulled me over for not coming to a complete stop on a deserted night and not something dangerous, like, you know, speeding or driving recklessly. Everyone I've talked to says it sounds like they saw something that made them suspicious, but I think I was pulled over because they were bored, and it sucks that my perfect driving record is tarnished because of it. According to the books my record is still spotless, but I can't honestly say that I've never even been pulled over now.
One positive thing it has done to me is that I make sure everyone I know--myself included--knows to come to a complete stop at all stop signs, because you know, they catch you for that around here.