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I love the great outdoors.
No, that’s not strong enough. I NEED the outdoors.
Back in my Corporate America days, I took many personality tests as team building exercises (though the end result was usually a realization of how nutty the people you work with really are). I can still rattle off my Myers-Briggs, DiSC, or Birkman results—and others.
What I find most interesting of those processes wasn’t the big items (not exactly a shock to discover a sales executive was an extroverted, driven personality), but the minor traits buried in the detail reports. One of my most amusing scores was outdoors where I scored in the 99th percentile.
That doesn’t mean that I enjoy being outside, but that I crave it. I need natural light, fresh air, and open spaces for sanity. The worst possible thing that can be done to me is put me in a windowless room far from the nearest exit. I can’t sit still, focus on details, or listen to others in such a situation.
At least, I think that’s what they said. The results were shared with me at a corporate retreat in Las Vegas, a city where you can spend an entire life among flashing lights, constant noise, and thick crowds, but never be able to find an exit. Our conference room was either on the 40th floor or deep underground. No way to tell because we didn’t have any real windows anywhere within walking distance.
Trying to understand the results (and fidgeting in my seat), I asked why my score was so high and a co-worker who loved playing baseball and golf had only a 56. He loved being outside, right?
The consultant sharing the results looked me in the eye and asked a simple series of questions. “You live in the mountains of North Carolina, right?”
“One of your favorite hobbies is hiking the many trails crisscrossing the region?”
“Often, those hikes can be miles long.”
“The best ones are.”
“You’re out hiking on a summer afternoon. A storm is brewing. You see the clouds thickening. The winds pick up. The rain’s coming. What do you do?”
I didn’t have to think about it. The answer was obvious. I shrugged and said, “You get wet.”
He tilted his head toward my co-worker, the one with the high but reasonable outdoor score, and said, “Most people—like Brian—would say you seek shelter.”
Trick question. He didn’t say there was shelter anywhere close. Of course I would seek shelter. Anyone would. But if you’re out in the woods and it starts raining, you get wet. It happens.
Last week, my Ever Patient Partner In Life, the one who suffers with all of my quirks, suggested a restaurant for a good dinner. It met all of our requirements. Good food. Excellent service. Reasonable prices. Outdoor seating.
I’ve always been a fan of outdoor dining. My personality test explains that. That last year-and-a-half (which has felt like two decades) of the zombie apocalypse has reinforced that habit. Eating outdoors is not only enjoyable—it’s safer. Works for me.
We scored a great table with a large umbrella. The waiter was terrific and the food was as good as always. A few other couples shared the porch and the gentle breeze.
Except the breeze picked up speed. The clouds thickened. Despite my trusty weather app swearing it wouldn’t rain, the first few drops fell. One couple stood, grabbed their drinks, and scurried indoors. The waitstaff jumped into action and moved their food. Then they asked if we wanted to move.
Just a few sprinkles. We’re good.
The wind grew stronger. The sprinkles turned into a steady drizzle. Others abandoned the porch. The waitstaff assisted in their move. They asked the two remaining couples, ourselves and another pair, if we wanted to move inside.
We had umbrellas. We were good. No thank you.
The wind whipped the hedge lining the porch. The rain crescendoed to a downpour. The other couple surrendered and ran inside. The waitstaff moved their meal. Our waiter leaned out the door and hollered to be heard over the driving rain, “You want to move inside?”
We looked at the water dripping off our umbrella. Felt the mist blowing with the wind. Saw the water puddling on the porch.
Nah. We’re good. Just a little rain.
We finished our meal. Passed on dessert. Tipped our good-natured waiter well.
What do you do when you’re having dinner outside and it starts raining?
I don’t care what normal people say. My answer remains the same.
You get wet.
John Hart is one of my favorite authors today with his terrific eye for the nuances of Southern living. I first read The Last Child, a mesmerizing tale, but had never gone back and read his first two novels, King of Lies and Down River until the last few weeks. That leaves only his newest, The Unwilling, unread.
After a multi-year absence, Adam returns to Rowan County. He had left in disgrace after beating a murder charge in court, though most locals still think he’s guilty. His return is greeted by a serious beating from old foes and then the appearance of multiple bodies. The sheriff, one of many who think he evaded punishment, focuses on Adam as the prime suspect in the new murders.
Adam finds few allies, not even in his own household, not a surprise since his stepmother had testified against him years before, swearing she saw him covered in blood shortly after the murder.
A few months ago, I shared Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby as one of my recommended books read. Razorblade Tears is in my TBR stack (might have to move it up to the top). The New York Times profiled him (sorry if you get caught by the paywall).
Gratuitous Dog Picture
For humans, a speed trap implies getting caught going too fast and having to pay a penalty. For The Thundering Herd, though, the punishment comes when you are a step too slow and you get caught by your older brother during a game of chase. Don’t worry, though, because Roscoe wriggled his way out of the mess and continued his evasion of Typhoon.
Background title image is courtesy Ryoji Iwata