It's All I Can Do

Day 90, Thursday, August 28, 2014

Way back when, Nellie Degen told us that we needed to contact the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) in various towns to get the police involved in the run. Well, the person who was our contact at the Chamber of Commerce in the city of Tomah did that for us. She did that to secure rides from my hotel to the running track and back again when we did not have any other rides available. This morning would be our first involvement with the police for that purpose.

A Lieutenant from the Tomah Police Department picked me up a little after 7:00 from my hotel. Before going to the high school running track, we had one stop to make. Any guesses?  That was the first time I ever went through a McDonald’s drive through in a police car.

Yesterday I received a call from a Mister Hagen, from the Hagen Sports Network. He wanted to do a piece on me at the track this morning. As the Lieutenant and I rode to the high school track, I brought up Mister Hagen. The Lieutenant knew him. Sure enough, when we got to the track the two men were on a first name basis – Gregg Hagen, and…..(I’m not sure of the Lieutenant’s first or last name).  The two got into a discussion about local high school sports. I am guessing that Gregg covers quite a bit of the local school sports because of his knowledge of the various teams and players.

As I walked onto the running track with my hands full holding a drink holder with two drinks and bag from McDonald’s, Gregg nervously instructed me to move “Over there.”

“I want to put my food down at a spot where I will be able to find it later,” I said. “Over here,” he said. “Where,” I asked. “Here, he said nervously again.

I got the feeling that the man didn’t get the concept of me being nearly totally blind, and/or, he was very pressed for time.

I found a spot along the edge of the track and put everything down and said, “I’ll just put everything there as long as you show me where it is later.” “Sure,” he said nervously.

Then he said, “Stand over there.” “Where?” I asked. “There.”

Okay, one of us is not getting this, so I politely instructed him on what I could, and could not, see.

Do you know what affect that had on him? None. We went through the same conversation again until, while laughing, I pointed and said, “Is it there?” “No.” “Is it there?” “No.” “Am I getting warmer?” “Yes.”

Finally, he said , “That’s it.” Whew, I was already hungry, and now had worked up even more of an appetite.

Apparently I was facing the camera when Gregg asked me some questions. After he was done he said he would send me a CD of the interview and took down my home address, but, he wasn’t done. He asked if I would run around the track so he could video me running. “Sure,” I said, and began running around it.

Lap after lap I ran. Four laps equals one mile, and at every mile my Garmin buzzes to indicate that I had completed another mile. One buzz, a second buzz, a third and a fourth. Was he ever going to be done getting enough video of me running on this track?

“Hello,” I yelled, but, no answer. I kept yelling as I went around the track, but no answer. Then one of the grounds people just happened to be walking onto the track near me. He asked who I was looking for, and I told him. “He left quite a while ago,” he said.

“Nice,” I thought. Gregg just didn’t get it about my lack of eyesight at any level. He didn’t even tell me when he was done shooting the video and leaving. Oh, well, I got a few more miles in before enjoying breakfast.

“Breakfast?” “Now where in the world is my food?”

All I knew is that I left it along the side of the track, but where? Ever so slowly I walked along the outer edge of the track, hoping to “see” something different, something that contrasted against the dark track surface and ground next to the track. I had to go around two laps before I found my food. By then it was cold. Well, beats going hungry.

At some point good old nature was calling, so I headed off to the men’s room. Locked. This is not good.  I tried the ladies room. Open. Fortunately the door locked from the inside, so I used it.

Later I encountered one of the grounds keepers and asked if the men’s room could be opened. “No problem” he said. What a relief. It’s the little things in life that makes a difference.

With nothing else to do while running, I thought I would play with my cell phone and see if I could get it to work somehow and make calls. I’ll be dipped. If I went into “contacts” and tapped on someone’s phone number, it dialed it. Sweet! Then I went into “Recents” and did the same thing. It worked also. So SIRI was useless, but I could “manually” make calls to people whose phone numbers I had in my phone.

When I was at mile 16, the weather got ugly. The wind was kicking up and it began to rain. Fortunately, I had packed my poncho and put it on. Just as I wrapped up mile 20, it stopped raining. Nice.

I called the Tomah police department dispatch for a ride back to my hotel. The dispatcher sent Sergeant Patterson.

There are some people that I have met in my life that, within seconds, I get a strong sense that they are “rock solid.” Sergeant Patterson is certainly one of them. I really enjoy learning about people, and so, wanted to know about Sergeant Patterson. He did a stretch in the military, then he told me something that will stick with me for ever. The conversation began by him telling me that next winter is predicted to be worse than last winter’s. Last winter was very cold and snowy. For Chicago, which is not very far from Tomah, it was the third coldest,and second snowiest. Chicago missed being the snowiest by 0.4 inches. Now that’s a bad winter.

Sergeant Patterson went on to say that he used to like the cold, but last winter he responded to a call of “shots fired.” When he arrived on the scene at a residence, someone was shooting from the house. He got out of his car and was forced to remain away from it for three hours as the temperature plummeted. By the time the police apprehended the individual who was shooting, Sergeant Patterson was so cold every muscle in his body hurt. To this day, just a little cold and his muscles hurt.

I gained a new appreciation for police from listening to the Sergeant’s story. On TV and in the movies, such a scene would be shot in nice weather. There would be no snow on the ground, and every police officer would be comfortable as far as the temperature and clothing match-up.

To me, it is one thing to be in the military and face hostile gun fire, as that’s where you expect it, but to be in a small town America? That’s quite a very different image for me.

There was something about talking with Sergeant Patterson that made me feel very patriotic. It continues to stick.

And get this. Sergeant Patterson said he was honored to give me a ride. (Which of course, included a trip through a McDonald’s drive through.). He was honored? I assure you and him, it was I that was honored to receive a ride from a police officer, especially from this man. A man who helped me raise the bar of pride I feel to be an American.

Total miles today: 20.38


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