Thursday, October 09, 2008

Fainting, Fires, Snakes, and Bugs

Boy has this been a long week filled with long days. Deeply satisfying but bone-wearyingly exhausting with moments of extreme embarrassment. I was ready to go to bed two hours ago.

Monday started off on a sour note. While meeting with both subcontractors and a client at a job site, I passed out mid job-walk and was thankfully saved from taking a nose dive into the asphalt parking lot by our truly, truly awesome subcontractor. Thank you, Chuck. You have earned my eternal gratitude. You get to tell your children that you are an incredible super hero (Guess what I did today kids, I saved a girl right as she was collapsing into a dead faint) and I got to avoid a broken nose (or head/bones) and unsightly bruises.

I have about 30 seconds of warning before I pass out: I lose my hearing, colors get saturated, I get tunnel vision, and I get sick to my stomach. During that time, I have the following debate with myself:

First thought: OH CRAP. Here we go again.
Second thought: If I leave right now, can I make it around the corner so people can't see me hit the floor?
Third thought: No. Not enough time. Better fess up RIGHT NOW and let people know that you're about to keel over. It's better to give people warning rather than just pitch towards the ground.

So, I fessed up along the lines of: "Gentlemen, I'm feeling faint" Or something to that effect, I really can't recall exactly. The next thing I knew I was on the ground with a safety vest acting as a pillow and two people staring down at me. I guess our contractor reached out right as I was tipping over.

Yeah, not my proudest moment. I seem to pass out about once every two years. The last time was also during a site walk and I was stuck in an incredibly tiny, cramped, hot office for a lengthy period of time. It was the back room of a surf shop. I think I took out a row of wet suits as I went over but I can't remember that too well, either. Thankfully, a coworker (who I was training!) was able to step in and finish the inspection.

And two years prior to that was my first, and probably most embarrassing fainting experience. When I worked at the Pacific Science Center, we had a collection of boa constrictors and a partnership with the University of Washington's vet school to oversee their health. One day, our vet brought in a group of students to sex our snakes and give a presentation. I'm not going to go into the details of determining the sex of a snake but I will say that it involves long metal probes and the snake becomes a tad bit irritable. Thankfully we had plenty of willing people to lend a hand. Did I mention that the snake room was incredibly small, hot, and filled with about 10 people? I didn't notify anyone that time and I made it as far as the door before I fainted, bloodied my nose against the door, became tangled in a nearby phone cord and ultimately ended up in the disinfectant foot bath. But I'll tell you one thing: those vet students were amazing. I had my head propped up, my knees bent, and a cool washcloth across my forehead before I even woke up. They were good.

I'm getting better now: I know how much time I have before it happens and no matter the embarrassment, it's better to tell people and sit down on the ground, immediately. Once every two years isn't too bad, either. Additionally, I now have some of Chris' biking gu in my purse. Next time I'm also going to try my dad's technique of clenching my stomach muscles to get a fresh rush of blood throughout my body.

Today was another one of my famous one-day work trips. I flew up to Oakland and then drove to a tiny town east of Modesto. Beautiful, but windy weather. My rental car was a tiny Chevy Aveo; it was a challenge to keep it on the road and not knocked into the ditch with every passing gust. I'm guessing the wind aided a couple brush fires that I passed; possibly a result of forlorn and abandoned cigarettes.I found a few interesting critters at the site. Anybody have some guesses for this mysterious bug? And a sad, dessicated lizard; dead in a desert of concrete.
The highlight of my day today was having lunch with my very best college chum, Melissa Hill. She works in Stockton and it was a very short jaunt over from my site. Missy, it was so great to see you! It's never long enough but someday we'll be closer, geographically, which will hopefully lead to more get-togethers.

So that, in a long nutshell, was my week. I'm looking forward to a nice, easy day tomorrow and then the weekend. Finally. And now to bed.