People on The Stretch

People I’ve met who love what they do for a living.

My Gift of Fear

Essential Reading

In 1997 I read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. He appeared on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show  which got me thinking about trusting my gut when it comes to creeps who prey on women.  Well, who knew that 15 full years later all of that invaluable knowledge would come into play?

The crux of The Gift of Fear is learning to pay attention pre-incident indicators (PINS)— charming manipulation, too many details, forced teaming— also known as the signs that someone is up to no good.  de Becker  implores women  to NOT be nice to everyone, especially people who make you feel uncomfortable and NICENESS is exactly what gets a lot of women in trouble.

I booked a room at Gorda Springs Resort just south of Big Sur.  Nothing was available in Big Sur proper so I took the ONLY room available within the outside range of my budget.  The place had TERRIBLE reviews online but I gambled because I really wanted to spend a few days in the area.  I’m glad I did because Gorda Springs Resort is just fine.  It’s clean, it has a comfortable bed and a fireplace in the room.  It’s perfectly fine.  There’s no cell service though and if you’ve read this blog you know I’ve promised some special folks that I’ll check in every night.  Without any cell service or Internet it can make this difficult.

Turns out, Gorda Springs Resort isn’t as much of a resort as it is a room on top of a general store.  The view is great– straight out to the Pacific– and the price is right.  The door to the room locks.  Safety was sort of on my mind since my cell phone didn’t work.  Luckily, I  found a pay phone on the side of the general store and planned to make a call as soon as I put some stuff in my car.

I was on the driver’s side of my car when I heard someone someone trying to get my attention.  I noticed the

Not too far from Gorda Springs Resort

man in the shiney, black, BMW 7 Series parked in the next spot gesturing to me through his partially rolled down window.  I can’t tell you exactly why, but this bugged me.  When our eyes met he tried to wave me over and said, “I have a question for you.”  I just said OK and continued with my business.  I thought, if this guy wants to talk to me he can get out of his car.

I was standing at the back end of my car with the hatch open when this stranger dressed in khakis and a golf shirt approached.

“Hi ma’am, how are you today?”

Fine.  Again, I can’t tell you why but this guy bugged me.  It was like he was standing way too close to me or something.

“Can you get a signal around here?  I can’t get a signal around here and I really need to get in touch with some people, so I was wondering if…”

I can’t get a signal.  I can’t help you.

“I know, I know.  We’re in the same boat.  We both need a signal, right?”

There’s a pay phone.  I managed to avoid the guy’s intense stare and overwrought smile.

“Yeah, I know.  We can use that if we need something.” Nervously laughs.  “But, see, I’m trying to get in touch with some people who are wiring me some money…”

I slammed the hatch and looked him in the eye— I can’t help you.  

Seriously?  The “wiring money” line?  That line is an actual example in The Gift of Fear.  It’s like the guy wasn’t even trying to be a good crook.

“Oh, ok.  Well, I see you’re traveling.  Where are you from?  Oh, I see, Florida.  What part?”

From Oprah.com

I ignored him and made sure my car was locked.  It was such a mistake to stand behind my car with the door open so no one could see us– he could have clubbed me in a hot second.  I practically invited the guy to see everything inside my car.  And, he got a good look at my license plate.  Ugh, was Oprah’s work in vain?  Did Gavin de Becker teach me nothing?

I was so pissed.  This guy disrupted the good thing I had going at Gorda Springs Resort.  I’d just started to feel ok about staying there and then he and his nefarious ways interrupt the whole thing.  I went to the pay phone and called the hotel where I really wanted to stay to see if they had any cancellations.  I didn’t want to take any chances now that this guy had me unnerved and knew the contents of my car.  As I was being turned down by the other hotel I noticed him approaching another woman in the parking lot.  There was a single man standing not too far away but the creep didn’t approach HIM.

I went inside the general store to see if someone in there could tell him to scram.  The only person working was a woman who could have been 17 or 45.  We started talking and I realized she leaned more toward 17.  She told me he’d approached her too and asked her how old she was and if she had a boyfriend.  Since no one else was working the only person with any authority was the man who managed the place next door.  She went to get him.  It really chapped my ass that this guy in the parking lot thought he could target women for whatever he was up to.  But, it chapped mine even more that we had to get big Daddy Manager next door to take care of it.

As Daddy Manager was summoned I made my I-made-it-here-in-one-piece call from the pay phone.  While I was talking, I heard the creep call out to another unsuspecting woman.  She ignored him. He let out an odd cackle.  The hair on the back of my neck stood up.

A minute or two later, while I was still on the pay phone, he walked by and said, “Hey, Florida.  I’m sorry I upset you.”

Big Sur, California

As he interrupted my conversation I noticed the manager walking toward us.

The person on the other end of my conversation said, “What?  I think I lost you for a minute.  What did you say?”

Daddy Manager towered over the creep and was making the point that he should move on.  I exhaled.

Oh, I’m sorry, I’m here.  I was just calling to let you know I’m safe.  

Categories: People on The Stretch, Stays on The Strech | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Just Jump

Bigfork Bridge

There’s a bridge in Bigfork, Montana that stretches over the Swan River as it lets out into Flathead Lake.  To some, jumping from the bridge into the deep part of the river is a rite of passage.  For me, this jump is a taunt.  A calling I can’t answer.

While enjoying a cocktail on her boat on Flathead Lake, my friend Edie asked if I wanted to jump from the bridge while I’m in town.  Lemme tell you something about Edie, she’s all about having fun which is a why I love being with her.  So, when she offered to jump with me it seemed like the best idea ever.

The water from my jumping point.

The drop from the bridge to the water is no more than 12 feet.  The water below is still and clear.  It’s easy to find the deep spot.  The rocks practically clear themselves out of the way.  Cars cross the bridge once every ten minutes.  The septuagenarian who lives below my parents dives off  on a regular basis.  I’m telling you, everyone has done this.

I’m not a particularly daring person.  New experiences are great but if they involve danger I can make a mountain out of a mole hill real quick.  A seat belt is my best friend.  I know how to cut it off my body and shatter a car window and have mentally prepared my escape if my car is sinking.  When I check into a hotel I ask for the room closest to the emergency exit.

I’m not sure why jumping off of this bridge seemed within my repertoire.  I wasn’t scared until I started climbing over the railing.  Then the gremlin voices began their chorus.

No one has ever gotten hurt but there’s always a first.

That water is really cold and it could be very disorienting once you submerge with that kind of force.

You could hit your head on the way down and knock yourself out then bleed out in front of your family.

Edie with her husband, Bob. Bigfork’s Ambassadors of Fun.

Edie demonstrated how to get to the ledge.  She gave me one hell of a pep talk.  She ran to get a life vest for me.  She jumped.  She jumped again.  A crowd gathered.  The crowd cheered.  I rallied and screamed, “Ok…1…2…” and chickened out.  Young men who promised they are certified life guards treaded water right below me for safety and moral support.  I asked the onlookers to come closer and tell me positive things.  Then I asked them to move away because they were crowding me. A kindergarten child said he would jump if I promised him I would jump.  I promised.   He jumped.  I broke my promise.

My point is  the only thing holding me back from taking the step off of the bridge, free-falling for .5 seconds, dunking in the clean river, and coming up victorious to applause from the crowd was ME.  This fear, of what I cannot pinpoint exactly, has been with me my whole life.  Most loyally, I’m sorry to report.

I meditate. I visualize success. I journal. I plan.  I pray.  But, this fear and I still take it to the mat on a daily basis.  I have five more days in Bigfork and that bridge is 200 feet from my front door.  I want to jump while I’m here— to pin that nasty fear.

But what if I freeze up again?

What if I messed with cosmic timing and yesterday was the best day to jump and now the water level is too low?

What if lightning strikes the bridge while I’m on the ledge?

What if…

Categories: People on The Stretch | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Spirit of 76

The Spirit of 76.

This week my father turned 76 years old.  I’m a lucky daughter to be able to spend his birthday with him in Bigfork, Montana.  We’ve spent a portion of almost every summer for the past 11 years together taking in the charm and quirk of this beautiful little village.  He and my mom introduced me to the last great place on Earth, Montana, when he retired and decided to be a guide on Flathead Lake.  This employment period was short-lived once he realized that working for someone else while in retirement wasn’t his vision after-all.  He ditched the work but stuck with Bigfork.

This terrain is unchartered for us native Floridians.  There’s a stretch of road between here and our friends’ house about 10 minutes away.  We’ve driven that road a countless times and he points out the same distant mountains and the same hay fields and says, “Isn’t that just beautiful?”  Every single time.   I love that.

From the last paragraph you may believe he’s something of a mellow guy.  That’s not the case at all.  I inherited my temper from him, although we both try very hard to keep it cool, sometimes the diplomatic route is the road less traveled. Maybe it’s because he’s my dad, but I believe he’s the perfect combination of loving father, football coach, CPA, storyteller, problem solver, AAA caller, justice defender, and best friend.

When I need a good laugh these things about my dad come to mind:

*When a cocktail is spilled, he shields his eyes and says, “Oh, I’d rather see a church burn.”

Handsome Devil

*His usual explanation for the inexplicable: “Well, I think you’re dealing with a person with a terminal case.”  Terminal case?  Terminal case of what?  “A terminal case of dumbass.”

*The way he winks at himself in the mirror and says, “You handsome devil, don’t you ever die.”

Things that melt my heart:

*The way he talks about how smart his grandchildren are.  He thinks even the mundane is amazing.

*He signs his letters, “I love you more…..POP.”

*The time he played I’ll Be Home For Christmas on his trumpet.

The reasons I’m lucky he’s my dad:

*The morning after one of our numerous conversations about the worst thing in the world happening, he calls to see if they sun came up where I live.  I always say that it did.  Then he says, “I told you it would.”

*He taught me that it always works out.  It might not work out the way I want it to and it might take a while but it will work out and it will be ok.

Pricher Clan

*He has been a devoted and loving husband to my mom for almost fifty years.

*He kept the ball moving down the field for our family no matter the circumstance.

*He’s always been there for me and there’ve been times when I wouldn’t blame him for ditching me.

This road-trip is a fantastic experience for so many reasons.  But, one of the best things is that I talk to him almost every day.  I promised him that I’ll stop driving when it gets dark and let he and my mother know where I am staying every night.  A reasonable request but proves difficult where there’s no cell signal.  He’s the first person I recount my day to and he thinks each story is better than the last.

Pop, I wish you a year full of joy and surprises.  Thank you for giving fatherhood your all.  I wish I could say your job is over and I can take it from here but if I did I’d be a cold-hearted liar.  I love your humor, your grumpiness, your logic, your understanding, your sense of adventure, your generosity, and most of all that you are my dad.

Enjoy 76!  That’s the spirit.

Sunrise/Sunset

Categories: People on The Stretch | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.