Hump Day: Knowing when to accept help is important

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Moncton Times & Transcript

I had one of those surreal moments last week when you think, “This can’t be happening. You only hear about these things because they happen to other people.” But real life sometimes does indeed send along nasty surprises from time to time.

My aunt hadn’t been feeling well and had recently been complaining of a sore back. The back issues had come and gone over the past few years. Physiotherapy helped a great deal, but a recent bout of pain that started suddenly was much worse than usual. Being my mother’s sister, my mother would keep in touch to make sure she was OK. She talked to my aunt on a recent Sunday evening and she was in pain but was going to call the doctor on Monday morning.

The next afternoon, my mother called to say that my aunt wasn’t answering the telephone. I was extremely busy and just blew it off as either she was sleeping or in the bathroom or something of that nature. I said I’d go over at some point to see if she was OK. I called.

No answer. Still not thinking anything was actually wrong, I took my good old time getting ready. I took the dog out to do her business. I did a few chores. I called again. No answer.

Well, just in case, I should head over to her condo in Dieppe. She’d probably been nursing her sore back on the sofa when I called and couldn’t get to the telephone.

I headed over to find the inside door open but the screen door locked. The car was in the driveway. The window beside the door was open to allow fresh air in. I knocked and then heard a weak voice faintly call out my mother’s name. Uh oh. This wasn’t good. I called in through the window and said it was me and that I’d come over to check on her. I asked where she was. “I’m on the floor. I can’t get up.” I looked down through the window only to find a couple of feet sticking out from behind the table.

Come to find out that she’d suffered a back spasm and had been there since 9 p.m. the night before in front of an open window. It was about 3 p.m. the next day.

Seeing how I couldn’t get in because the screen door was locked (don’t lock your screen doors, people!) and couldn’t get through the window, I called 911 because I only had a key to the inside door and was locked out – and also because my aunt clearly needed medical attention.

She was awake and lucid, but obviously not in the best of shape after having been on the floor in front of an open window for 18 hours. In the middle of a particularly painful spasm, she had slid down the wall onto the floor to try to get the pain to stop. “Not the best idea,” she said afterwards. True, considering the pain was so bad that she couldn’t get up and also that she was far from the telephone in the other room.

ambulanceThe paramedics arrived before the fire department’s rescue unit and one managed to dislodge the screen and climb through the window. He opened the screen door and we all got in, finally. They checked her out and got her sitting on a chair. She was still in great pain. She then quite nonchalantly announced that, “You can all go home now. I’m OK.”

‘Oh yes, you’re the picture of health,’ I thought to myself. ‘Let’s cancel the Miss Universe pageant and have them come right over with the tiara, sash and bouquet of roses. No need to waste everyone’s time having a pageant this year when you’re so clearly the winner.’

After I insisted, she went to the hospital. I’m happy to report that she’s now home and recovering. I just hope that the acute denial that something is wrong doesn’t run in the family.

If paramedics and firefighters are staring down at you and telling you that you should go to the hospital, it may be a good idea to take their advice.

I probably shouldn’t judge her, because I know I’d be the exact same way if it were me. I’d be sitting there holding my severed head on my lap while trying to convince the paramedics that it was only a minor paper cut.

I guess we all try to act braver than we really are, but sometimes we just have to accept the help of others for our own good. I need to remember that, too.

Hump Day: Just say ‘no’ to offering too much personal info

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Moncton Times & Transcript

I was running errands the other day when I heard voice coming from the car beside me in the parking lot.“Excuse me, are you Brian ‍Cormier?”

I rolled my eyes at the prospect of having to put up with yet another fan fawning all over me. I checked my glove compartment for 8X10 glossies and strolled over to the car for the routine I’ve gone through a million times. “Who do I make this out to, dear? And before you ask – and I know you will – I’m all out of nudes.”

OK, maybe I’m making that up (actually, I still have plenty of nudes), and I ended up having a very nice conversation with a lady who worked with my mother more than 50 years ago at the old Eaton’s Catalogue Centre. She even attended my parents’wedding.

This encounter ended up fine – and most do – but I got to thinking afterwards why we’re so eager to give out our personal information when people ask us? If someone you don’t even know walked up to you on the street and asked you, “Are you so-and-so?,” why do we feel the need to answer? For all we know, maybe Russian mobsters have taken a contract out on our life and it’s a hit man wanting to make sure they killed the right guy.

Or maybe it’s a collection agency trying to collect on a 1996 one-dollar fine from Blockbuster for failing to rewind a VHS tape you rented. Or maybe it’s someone who wants to serve you with documents because you’re getting sued for defamation for calling some kid in your class a ‘poopy head’ way back in third grade. Hey, some people hold grudges.

I get asked for personal information all the time and I seldom think twice about giving it out. True, you can just do a Google search for my name and find out my general contact information, but why do we just blurt out our email address to anyone who asks for it? Why does a cashier need to know our telephone number? I just want to pay for my pretty new hair barrettes. Why do you need my telephone number?

I’m often asked to give my email address to cashiers. It’s a real pain, actually. It slows the line down. If I want their email fliers, I’ll go online and subscribe, thank you very much. It’s not that my email address is a national secret – it’s certainly not – but for others, giving that out or your telephone number could actually be dangerous.

secret 3What if there’s a ‘bad man’ (for lack of a better term) in a lineup behind a woman he finds attractive and she’s there giving her telephone number and email address out loud to the cashier for all to hear. No, that’s just not safe – for anyone, really. I’m just using the ‘bad man’ scenario as an example. It could be someone who likes to carry lots of money around and opens up their wallet in front of the cashier. The next thing you know, they’re blurting out their email address and telephone number. From there, it doesn’t take much these days to track down a person’s address. And then, other identification.

These are a bit far-fetched, I know. I don’t want to make anyone paranoid or anything – but in the end I do find that we’re all a bit too eager to give out our private information for everyone to hear. A bit of caution goes a long way.

I tend to just let people know what they want to know, but am very aware that I need to start just keeping my yap shut before volunteering stuff that just really isn’t anyone’s business.

But then again, if I was that paranoid, I would have missed out on nice conversations like I did over the weekend in the parking lot! It’s always nice to meet people to whom you’re connected somehow. So maybe it’s OK to let your guard down once in a while… just be wary of being too generous.

Identity theft is a big problem. There are stories of identity thieves ruining people’s lives by getting credit cards in their names – and even mortgages. “Honey, I’m just looking at our credit report. Why did you buy three condos in Toronto last week?” I can assure you that’s not a question you want to have to ask – especially if the answer is, “What are you talking about?”

But hey, I’m just a newspaper columnist who keeps 8X10 glossies in my glove compartment. What do I know?