The Rest Of The Story

Today, the rest of the story . . . 

Look, I have all of his books!
As I watched vehicles try to make it through, some successfully, others not, I vowed to stay put until it was absolutely clear enough to NOT damage my vehicle. Some of the drivers around me, however, were as determined to get going as I was to be safe. In fact, one irate man got out of his vehicle several cars back and waded through knee-deep waters to demand that the cars in front get going. He was ranting so erratically that I was on the verge of calling 9-1-1 until it occurred to me that I could call them, all right, but they weren’t coming. Not in this rain, not with these flood waters. A few emergency vehicles did attempt to get through earlier, but that proved to be a major ordeal. I guess people don’t think that the rules about getting out of the way for emergency vehicles apply if it’s flooding.
     So I kept reading, knit a little bit, rolled my window down periodically for air, that sort of stuff, to busy myself while I wait. At one point I was able to get up onto a curb so that I could open my car door without fear of the waters joining me. The guy to my left was fast asleep behind the wheel of his car, but I visited with the guy in front of me, the Hispanic reporter who was filming for Univision, and the guy behind him.  He introduced himself as Adam and told me that he was tempted to walk to his friend’s place nearby for some shut eye because he’d worked a double shift at the Marriott and was exhausted. I offered to watch his car for him and give him a call if and when any movement began. He gratefully accepted before he waded away through my rear-view mirror.  Mother Nature doesn’t discriminate, that’s for sure. I got back in the van and called my husband again for a traffic and weather report. I’ve never been one to take much stock in the Weather Channel but it sure was coming in handy that day. He tells me that things are clear to the north but that both intersections that lead to the airport are still flooded and it’ll still be awhile before I go anywhere. We talk about what the airport situation might be once I do get there and we discuss the option of me driving to Dallas once I can move so that I arrive there before nightfall.
     At 11:00. I’d been sitting in this same spot for six and a half hours. It couldn’t be much longer, right? Still falling, the rain was more of a sprinkle at that point and the fire hydrant that I was using as a marker, which was covered by the flood waters a few hours back, was more visible than it’d been since daybreak. I decided to consider the driving option. Was I-45 moving north? Could I back up just a little and fit through the pillars, which hold up I-45 and act as a barrier between the U-turn lane and mine? Pillars, that’s funny. I was on my way to Character Camp to talk about the Pillars of Character and there I was, having to decide whether to drive up and over a curb, through the pillars, breaking the law ever so slightly, to go the other way to get there. I decided to leave my vehicle to check it out. I kicked off my sandals, rolled up my Capris, opened the van door, and stepped out into the elements. I waded through calf-deep waters to check it out and sure enough, the traffic was moving north without a hitch. I called that kid Adam to let him know that I had decided to leave the spot I’ve called home for the last seven hours, letting him know that the two cars in front of him are still there. Then I called my husband to detail my plans before I turn the key to start my engine, which thankfully ignites on cue. I nervously backed into the standing water behind me, making a Y turn up onto the curb and through the pillars. I crossed the U-turn lane and jumped the curb near the wall as I headed toward the feeder road, which leads north to Dallas. One more phone call to my friend Keri for directions around the city during rush hour and I was good to go.
     Exactly twelve hours after my abrupt stop at that intersection, I’m checking into the luxurious hotel, none the worse for wear, with enough time for a quick shower before the heavy hors d’oevres and keynote speaker to officially kick off the conference. Oh, I’d missed the pre-conference workshop with Tom Jackson, which was a bummer, but I’d had an interesting day, so it was all good. As I headed to the ballroom, relief washed over me and I was so grateful to be safely there. I filled my plate with tasty appetizers and scanned the crowd for an empty seat. I approached a table where just one person was seated, so I asked if I could join him. He nodded graciously so I extended my hand to introduce myself. “I’m Barbara Gruener,” I said enthusiastically, to which he replied, “I’m Tom Jackson.” THE Tom Jackson? I wondered.  God certainly has an interesting sense of humor. “Hey, I was supposed to be in your session today,” I told him.  “Have I got a character-building story for you.”


  1. when you got lemons, you made lemonade. Love the story. I use a lot of Tom's activities--one I really like is the Wright Story.

  2. Good Morning, Barbara:
    I read this with your voice (which I know mostly from you singing on YouTube videos!)
    The Barbara-est moment is you offering to watch "the kid's car." That is sooooooooooo YOU!
    I loved this story. It amazed me how you'd busied your self. (Were those baby hats you were knitting?) That's the biggest difference: You're knitting, reading, making new friends and talking to the hubs... and I'd be crying, complaining, panicking and saying,"Whhhhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyyy?"
    Oh, and I thinking breaking the law ("a tiny bit") is acceptable if you've been in the same place for HOURS!
    I'm glad you're safe! (I know, I know, it was a while ago, but STILL! You get to tell the tale, and I get to be glad to know you!

    I am going to be very concerned if it rains today. Of course, rain for us is usually .054 inches, but now that I've read this...

    Big Happy Hugs!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  3. I have the first 2 books and I love them! I just gave them to our PE teacher who will be doing team building and character ed. with our middle schoolers once a week. I love that you call it Character Camp!

    ❤ Mor Zrihen from...
    A Teacher's Treasure
    Teaching Treasures Shop

  4. Oh my goodness. What an amazing adventure you had. So glad to hear you're okay :)

    Grade ONEderful


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