Percussive Boom

Add this to the list of weird things that have happened to me.

Percussive Boom. Geyser.

I was running my dog outside before a work-from-home meeting (that part is not unusual), when my shoes crunched across something unexpected in the driveway.

Glass. Thick brown shards of it extending from my puppy’s poo pail across the width of my car’s back bumper.

My mind ran the gamut in about 15 seconds – had someone thrown beer bottles against my garage door? Had the outside light shattered? Had there been glass in my driveway yesterday and I drove over it?

I scanned every nearby surface until my gaze froze at the shattered edge of my car’s back window.

Whoa.

No Ordinary Shatter

This was no ordinary shatter, if a car window shattering is ever ordinary. This looked like there had been a percussive boom inside my car. The lip edge of my rear window was curled outward and flanked with broken glass. There was no single point of blast, no rock-through-the-hole center. Instead, there was a maze of spider veins and a series of chipped layers all across the window that were reminiscent of sharp flakes of shale. Add to this picture the fact that my car was backed – backed! – against the garage door. Another car closer to the road was untouched.

I was flummoxed.

There was no sign of anything heavy falling off the roof – where would it have gone?

Could something inside my car have exploded? There was nothing in there but a half-full bottle of frozen water and my dog’s towels.

I called the police because I needed a witness to my perplexity.

The Investigation

The attending officer agreed it didn’t look malicious.

“But what caused it?” I asked.

“Weird things happen,” he said with a shrug.

Shatter lines

I imagine an officer working the beat has witnessed weirder things than a car window shattering for no apparent reason. For me, however, this was right up there. Maybe not quite Unexplained Flying Objects weird, but close.

His best explanation was some kind of air pressure caused the window to shatter. When we shut the car doors, the quiet slam caused half the window to shower into my car.

“See?” he said. As though this were a perfectly predictable response.

I waved him on his way and called my insurance agent.

Answers

“What’s your best guess as to what caused the broken window?” she asked.

“Umm… air pressure,” I hedged, as I tried to explain the miraculous shattering.

“Has it been cold there and have you used your defroster lately?” she asked.

“25°F and yes, yesterday.”

“That happens,” she answered, keyboard clicking in the background.

That happens? I’ve been driving nearly 30 years in sub-freezing temperatures, sometimes in places where plugging in your car to keep the engine block from freezing is a thing. And I have never heard of your window spontaneously shattering while parked in your driveway.

But I wasn’t about to argue with the nice lady filing my claim.

The call ended with a referral to a local glass shop and a promise that the repairs would be covered in full. I may be vacuuming glass dust from my trunk for weeks, but one step at a time. Currently my car’s tail is shrouded in black garbage bags, and no one better run up the driveway barefooted. Which, given the weather, is probably unlikely.

Weird, right? Have you ever heard of a car window shattering at 25°F a day after using the defroster?

If you’re like me, now you have.

Lessons Learned

Here are the lessons I draw from this little tale.

  1. Weird things happen. Sometimes they make good stories.
  2. I tried googling percussive boom to see if it was a legitimate phrase. Google suggested I might actually be trying to search for Percussive Boomwhackers, which is a musical instrument in the plosive aerophone and idiophone family. I don’t know what most of those words mean, but I suspect the sound my car made when the glass shattered is very similar to a Boomwhacker so I kept the phrase.
  3. Things shatter: windows, relationships, us. Sometimes the breaking comes from an external blow. Sometimes it comes from our own internal pressure cooker. Sometimes we have no idea what happened; we just see the pieces. But all this mess – me, you, that dude down the street – the repair for all of it is paid in full. We may still have to have the repair work done. We may need some protection in the meantime because it can be vulnerable to be shattered. But if we are willing to take the necessary steps, the offering is on the table. When we take the first step – it doesn’t even have to be the step, it can just be a step – God reveals the second step. Repair work proceeds step-by-inch-by-step.

In a tiny twist of dramatic irony, I stopped by the mailbox on our evening walk. There, in an oversized white envelope, was my annual car insurance bill.

If ever there was a clarion call to action, this might be it.

I think I’ll pay it.

This post was first posted to inspireafire.com. Wishing you a shatterproof day today 🙂

Heading for Takeout

There’s a saying in my family: When Janet heads to the kitchen (that’s me), then everyone else heads for takeout.

I’m fully convinced I could headline on the “Worst Cooks in America” if I could just survive in the kitchen long enough to submit an audition tape.

Some of my culinary mishaps are the stuff of urban legend. Like the time I exploded a plate while making French toast for my friends.

I don’t mean I broke a plate. I mean it was a duck-under-the-table-shrapnel-flying explosion. Apparently, I turned the wrong burner on. (I wondered why my French toast was still raw even as I turned the heat higher and higher.)

After that my friends ushered me out of the kitchen, swept my floor and countertops, and called me when breakfast was ready.

I get that response a lot.

There was the time I made pudding from scratch that was so lumpy I called it chocolate chunk pudding and convinced everyone it was intentional. And recently during a family visit, my mom came down the hallway calling, “Wow, whatever those plumbers did really stinks… oh, wait, I think that’s your cooking.”

There is, however, one culinary expertise that I possess: I make a mean bowl of Jell-O.

Ever since the great soup escapade of 2014, I decided to focus my efforts on something a little more in my wheelhouse. My attempts with powdered gelatin and boiled water have been met with wild acclaim. I no longer have to ask my church family what I should bring to the carry-in.

“How about Jell-O?” they will suggest.

“Yes! We love your Jell-O! Please bring that,” another will chime in.

With such enthusiasm as that, how can I let them down?

Jell-O it is. And I am happy to report that to date, no one has been injured in either the making or consuming of my special gelatin salad. I call that a win for everyone.

All of this bring me to my reflection. When faced with obstacles as insurmountable as my cooking inaptitude, it seems we have three paths to overcoming:

#1 Find your special niche.

I’m not about ready to whip up a crème brûlée, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be successful in some small and still important part. (Who doesn’t love a colorful Jell-O?) The same is true for you and whatever obstacle you may be facing. I’m not ready to take on cooking-at-large, and you may not be ready to take on your obstacle-at large, but that doesn’t mean there’s not still a place for us at the table. Find your spot and pull up a chair. I’ll be at the end away from the flames and sharp utensils.

#2 Get training.

As much as I hate to admit it, and I’m only going to whisper it here, I have on occasion actually used a (gulp) recipe. And the other day I inadvertently learned how to tenderize chicken by soaking it – oh excuse me, marinating it – in lemon juice or vinegar. I haven’t actually tried it yet. Mine will likely taste like pickled sawdust, but my point is I learned something. There are people out there who know more than us. (Thank God!) Don’t be afraid to learn from them.

#3 Let it go.

Sometimes rather than climbing over obstacles, we can simply walk around them. I wonder how much time we spend in life fighting battles we don’t really need to fight. Take a moment to assess how important your particular challenge is. If it’s important, see #2 above. And if it’s not, well, I say we just forget it and go celebrate with some takeout.

Who’s with me?

This post was originally written for inspireafire.com. I hope this second helping brought a smile to your day!