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The Hero

by George Lester
George Lester
After my simulated live radio show presentation started to gain popularity in Monroe, Louisiana I managed to strike up a few conversations on the telephone that led to the opportunity of meeting some nice people after work. Fortunately there were a few night owls out there who liked to sit and visit until the wee hours. That worked out fine for me because I had all day to sleep before I had to return to work. That is, I could have slept if my landlady hadn't awakened me numerous times each day with all kinds of loud noises.

At first I thought it was accidental but I found out that it was all part of a carefully plotted plan to frustrate me. I had insisted on using the kitchen to cook my own meals. I had to do this to save money but she did not like my invading on what she considered her private domain. No matter how carefully I cleaned up after using the kitchen she always found something to complain about. I knew that she had a drinking problem so I tried to humor her. It soon became obvious that it wasn't going to work. I found another place to stay and moved when my rent was up.

As I made my exit carrying out the last of my meager possessions I took one last look back. There sat my landlady with the most depressed expression on her face I had seen since we first met. Now she had her house all to herself again. She had won the battle of wills but at that moment she looked as if she had lost.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I crossed the Ouachita river into West Monroe where I had discovered a functional little garage apartment. The rent was the same as my one-bedroom dwelling in Monroe. It wasn't luxurious by any stretch of the imagination but I loved it. At last I had my own place with a kitchen, bath and living room/bedroom and no daily lectures. My outlook on life improved greatly.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch.

I decided to go by our downtown offices and see what they thought of my new late night program. What I got was far from what I had hoped for. "What new program?" When I started to explain what I had been doing each night at eleven P.M. I was met with total apathy. They were interested only in the bottom line, dollars and cents operation of running the business. Not one person in the entire office ever actually listened to the radio station. I departed with a severely deflated ego.

It was only days later when I glanced out the window to see a frightening looking thunderstorm approaching the radio station. It hit suddenly and with great force. The building shook from the wind. The rain and hail came down so thick I could hardly see across the cotton patch.

As I sat there wondering if the radio station would survive the battering it was taking I heard a crackling sound in the next room. When I opened the door I saw miniature bolts of lightning arcing all over the transmitter. The back door to the building had been left open and the blowing rain was drenching the electrical components. In order to close the door I had to pass within a few feet of the transmitter. I knew I was taking a great chance but I ran as fast as I could to the door hoping to avoid electrocution. I jumped out, slamming the door shut while still in midair in one synchronized movement worthy of a highly trained athlete. To avoid going back by the transmitter I walked around the building to the front door in the driving rain while being pelted by hailstones. By the time I came back inside I was soaked to the skin.

The air conditioner was going full blast. I turned it off and waited for the building to warm up. With my wet clothing I felt as if I were in the Klondike. I sat there at the control board with my teeth chattering so that I could not speak clearly when it came time for a station break. Finally I decided to take off my clothes, wring them out and hang them up to dry near the heat of the now docile transmitter.

I had just sat back down at my work station clad in only my boxer shorts when I saw car lights approaching. I made a mad dash to retrieve my clothes. Right in the middle of putting them back on the sales manager came through the front door.

Totally ignoring my explanation of the drama that had just unfolded he kept mumbling something about what a disgrace it was to find me practically naked where any one might walk in. I threw up my hands and breathed a sigh of resignation. His diatribe continued as he started his car and drove away into the darkness.

When I came to work the next day, suffering from the sniffles caused by my chilling experience the night before, I found a memo on the bulletin board. It read in part,
"Broadcast personnel will remain fully clothed at all times while on duty"

Nowhere in the memo was there a word about how I had single handedly saved the transmitter and probably kept the building from burning down.

I guess the old saying is true.

"Heroes are born, not made".

The roller coaster descended to the bottom once again.
George Lester
Spunky Flat and Beyond - A Memoir

June 1, 2007 column

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