I have tried hard all my life to hide from public view the parts of my brain the good Lord missed when passing around his gifts.
Those areas pertaining to common sense, for example, hand-and-coordination and achieving comfort with my size in my own space, those three stand out.
And their absence can manifest itself in a host of ways.
Should my wife observe that I am even pondering picking up a hammer, a screwdriver, she is dialing 9-1-1 before grabbing a bullhorn and trying to negotiate an alternative.
Power tools are banned from the household.
Oh, like most every human on the planet I have my balancing positive traits … well; let me get back on that.
But, as I said, when out in public I have done by best to hide these handicaps and making one’s living with a pen, pad of paper and computer typewriter tends to help.
Until, it comes to a tool such as a camera.
And I am quite sure that after last Friday’s demonstration of idiocy, the folks at the South Gulf County Volunteer Fire Department now have gained the good sense not to take me out in public.
The occasion was a lovely celebration of the life of former chief David Sapte (see related article) who was an all-around good chap and died late last year after a long and stunningly-courageous battle with cancer.
Now, at such an event, it is typical that a camera comes in very handy and, sure enough, I had mine over my shoulder.
Having camera over shoulder, as I have demonstrated over more than 25 years in the business, assures only that I will get at least one decent in-focus photo provided I shoot at least 150 options.
I am bad.
The only wonder is that I have not by now broken this company camera issued six or seven years ago.
I have discovered fundamentals about camera operation: they really need a charged battery.
And, of course, as ceremonies were taking shape inside South Gulf Station 1 last Friday, I begin to ready (cough, cough) to take some photos and sure enough there is not enough juice in the battery take a single shot.
Suddenly, as if a time warp is gathering around me, it shoots through my brain, at least that part still functioning, that the other camera battery died earlier in the afternoon and is on a charger.
Dedication pouring through every cell, I now race, in the sense of a turtle race, to my car parked at Salinas Park bayside to retrieve my phone to take photos.
Here is where my brain simply fails me.
Between State 30A roadway and parking lot is a ditch and at either end, I note, it appeared dry to I decide to walk directly through to the parking lot.
Except my left foot sinks to the bottom and expresses reluctance to come out and I am suddenly looking like I am walking through 5-feet of snow, really brown snow.
At this point, it is worth interjecting that I had changed the only two pair of shoes I have obtained since the storm and was wearing slip-on Skechers.
Let me emphasize “was” wearing.
The left one was suddenly at the bottom of the ditch, the foot that occupied it now encased in a mud boot.
Yep, stick my hand down in the hole to recover my shoe, just as any person with functioning would do.
I’ll try to explain.
One of the most personal losses from Hurricane Michael was the four-pair shoe collection I had built, a true luxury for me.
So, I was not going to let some ditch take my shoe like those guys in Tarzan movies who stepped in quicksand.
Problem was, after reaching in with right hand I lost my balance, planted my left hand for leverage and, yep, stepped right back into the depth of the mud with my right foot.
And there went the right shoe.
I was now in mud-encased socks, the bottom of both legs of my pants looking as if I had just been bogging, my hands wearing mud gloves.
Lacking any towel or cloth to wipe said hands that were soon to try to grip and take photos with my cell phone.
To top it all, in the process of losing both shoes in the mud, I had managed to wrench both knees, one of which has been replaced, as if being twisted on one of those ancient racks.
So, as the services started up, I was on top of the ditch across the road, limping forward and rubbing my hands back and forth in the grass and dirt to remove any mud, my socks and bottom of my pants Mama Steph-chef caked in mud.
But, as a reader will find within this paper, I got my photos, even as it meant teetering in a gait Frankenstein would have been proud of up and down State 30A in my mud-caked socks by the end.
Mike Barrett with South Gulf Fire and Rescue promised a search and rescue team to retrieve the shoes at some point in the future.
As for my wife, she muttered an, “Oh, Lord” while adding shoes to the lengthy lists of objects best kept a fair distance from my hands.
My fear, and I think hers to an extent, is that before I retire I may be forced to do this job in my underwear as a safety precaution.
And none of us are safe if it comes to that.