When Trouble Comes a Knockin’ at My Door

01 Nov

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  We are born, we die, but everything in between is usually one pratfall after another, which can be embarrassing and mortifying and seem like the most insurmountable problem at the time, until we actually run up against real trouble knocking at the door of our lives (mixed metaphor intended).

Image courtesy of

A few days ago, my husband (WW) and I had just hunkered down in preparation for Hurricane Sandy to hit.  Expecting 80 mile an hour winds and living amongst obscenely tall trees, we had put away anything that could turn into a flying missile, cleaned out the gutters, primed the sump pump, gathered the emergency lights and hand-cranked radio, and descended into the basement to stand guard through the night against something
we couldn’t even begin to fathom or control.  What made the waiting worse is that one of our daughters and our only grandson were in the storm’s direct path in New York City.  Worry about and for them was so debilitating
that I was practically near a nervous breakdown.  During times such as these, WW is steady as a rock and I am a whirling dervish of frenetic talkative energy and planning.

Whirling Dervish|image from

THE MOTHER (Me):    Honey, did you tell our daughter to get cash from the ATM in case the electricity goes and get tons of non-perishable food like tuna fish, peanut butter, crackers, and applesauce?  Did you remind Boo to pack an emergency backpack for her and the baby and keep it by the door in case they have to evacuate?  Oh and what about flashlights, battery-powered radios, and a security rape whistle in case the metropolis turns into Gotham City and anarchy ensues?  Oh, and she should probably get duct tape (no emergency is complete without duct tape) and an ice chest full of ice for perishables and her friend’s insulin medicine.  Did you tell her about filling the bathtub full of water to flush the toilets in case the city sewer pump gives out at the water station?  Huh, huh, well did you tell her?

THE FATHER (WW):    No, you told her all that and more during the 10 text messages, 14 phone calls, and 20 emails you sent her over the past two hours.  In fact I just got a call from our daughter that I couldn’t understand what was being said through our grandson’s screaming and our daughter’s yelling because your last suggestion about filling the bathtub with water caused mass hysteria in her house.  The new kitten, Jo-Jo (used to jumping into the tub to play with the baby’s bath toys) didn’t realize the tub was full of water and took a flying leap off the side of the tub into what quickly started becoming his watery grave.  Our grandson got hysterical because Jo-Jo was drowning, the shower curtain got ripped to shreds because the kitten tried to use it as a ladder to climb out of the tub, both our grandson and our daughter have kitty scratches from head to toe, and now the kitten has gone into hiding and refuses to surface—all this before Hurricane Sandy has even shown up.  I just got a text message from our very frustrated older daughter that says:  “Dad, contain your woman; she is driving me freakin’ crazy!”

“Soggy Pissed-off Kitty”|Google Image

THE MOTHER (Me):  Well, excuse me for just trying to get everyone prepared for what the weathermen are calling the “storm of the century”!

THE FATHER (WW):  Honey, you know that most things we obsess about never come to past, but when they finally do knock on our door the best we can do is be prepared and the rest is in God’s hands.  You’ve done your part, now let God show up.  Why don’t you take your mind off obsessing about the safety of our grandson and do something constructive.  What’s the theme of next week’s blog?

THE MOTHER (Me):  Oddly enough—worrying about stupid shit we have no control over.  Isn’t it ironic?  We could be blown away at any minute, and I’m still being plagued by an embarrassing incident that happened to me on the elevator at my company the other day.   I’m actually mortified at the thought of what people must be saying about me behind my back, and the irony of it all is that it wasn’t my fault!

THE FATHER (WW):  All righty, now.  This story sounds like one for the family scrapbook.  Pass me the popcorn, and let her rip.

THE MOTHER (Me):  (You have no idea how much of a pun that is!)  Well, you know what an impeccable diva I am?  How everything has to be in place and just so?  The other day, I was really struttin’ my stuff (black and white “to-die-for” ensemble with gobstopper pearls, Coach bag and gorgeous Stuart Weitzman pumps) when I got on the elevator on the executive floor of my company (picture badge and name prominently displayed for all the world to see), and a building services man that I recognized didn’t speak when I spoke to him, but gave me a rather chagrined expression as he sped past me to exit onto my floor.  Once the elevator doors had closed, I instantly knew why his expression was so tortured:  he had left behind a fart of biblical proportions!  It was so rank that the paint seemed to be peeling off the elevator walls. I have no idea what that guy had had for lunch, but it smelled as if something had died in there.   I was the only one on the elevator, and as I tried my best not to breathe, I pushed the next floor’s button hoping I could escape before anyone else got on (I should have reopened the doors and gone back the way I came but I was too flustered to think—I think the funk had addled my brain).  As Murphy’s Law would have it, a gaggle of chattering new college hires (all shiny and new and dressed to the nines on a tour of the Executive floors) flooded the elevator and blocked my ability to exit before the doors closed.  Like magic—within five seconds—all of their chirpy voices screeched to an immediate halt as they all turned and looked at me in wide-eyed horror as they grabbed their noses and exclaimed in a unified Greek chorus shout-out:  EEUUEW!  At the next floor they all fled the elevator like a flock of magpies being chased by a skunk—leaving me alone with a shattered reputation in the midst of a funk not of my own making.   I wanted to go running after them to plead my case:  “It wasn’t me, it wasn’t me; I’m too cool to fart in public,” but I was so mortified, all I could do was hang my head as the doors closed and the elevator car descended to the first floor. How can I show my face again at work?  Every time I get on the elevator now I feel as if people I don’t know are pointing and whispering:  “That’s her—that’s the chubby Pépé Le Pew we were telling you about.”

That’s what I want to blog about.  Why did something (not my fault) cause me such chagrin and mortification, and why can’t I shake it off?  Nobody got hurt, no property was lost (last time I looked, the elevator car had not imploded), and nobody died.

“Elevator Fart”|image from

THE HUSBAND (WW):  Well, in light of a very real tragedy that is about to descend up our heads, you might just get some perspective about how in the scheme of things, a smelly ol’ fart is no big deal.  If our family lives through this storm without loss of life or property, a misguided fart in juxtaposition to Hurricane Sandy will be a great story for your readers.  Ask them what nonsensical things trip them up that should be simply shaken off on any given day, because at some point, real tragedy comes a knockin’ and we need all the courage and strength we can muster to conquer those “real” trials!


I am discovering that the playwright Jean Kerr of Mary, Mary was correct (and I paraphrase here):  “It is no use making up troubles that don’t exist because trouble will come knocking at your door soon enough.” When WW and I woke up the next morning, our house was not flooded, the tall trees were still standing, and my daughter and grandson were unscathed in Queens.  But what is fast becoming legendary is that millions of others from the Caribbean to Maine lost electricity, lost their homes to fire and floods, and some lost their lives trying to escape the mayhem of what turned out to ironically be called the “perfect storm.”

Trouble had indeed come a knockin’ at many of our “neighbor’s” doors in New Jersey and New York, and now it is up to us and every other American of all stripes and colors, political persuasions, and religious ideologies to get over our petty and nonsensical selves and our entrenched ideologies and lend a helping hand to our neighbors, relatives, friends, and strangers far and wide so that they may recover as soon as possible.  No state government can stand alone in times like these (no matter what the Republicans tell you), no federal government can do it all (no matter what the Democrats tell you), and none of us can exist without each other (no matter what the various ideologues preach to you).   As we approach the presidential election, Hurricane Sandy has made it abundantly clear for those who have eyes to see that now is not the time to elect a rich,
heartless, corporate raider
whose mantra is, “I’ve got mine, too bad you never got yours,” but now is the time to RE-ELECT a brilliant man who has the Christlike heart of a community leader and understands that if the United States of America is going to make it in the future when trouble comes knockin’ at our door, we will all need to underscore the united part of our country’s title and pledge allegiance to the fact that we are all our brother’s keepers and all in this journey together.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been harmed by Hurricane Sandy and suffered loss of family, friends, and property.  We pledge to come to your aid as brothers and sisters and fellow Americans until you can stand on your own two feet again!—Image from

      “Above all things let us never forget that mankind constitutes one great brotherhood; all born to encounter suffering and sorrow, and therefore bound to sympathize with each other”—Albert Pike (American Lawyer, Journalist and Soldier, 1809-1891)

“If you really believe in the brotherhood of man, and you want to come into its fold, you’ve got to let everyone else in, too”—Oscar Hammerstein II (American musical comedy Author, Lyricist and Producer influential in the development of musical comedy. 1895-1960)

      “People ask me all the time, ‘What are you, a Democrat or a Republican? A Catholic or a Muslim…’ What am I? I am none of these. I belong to nothing but the human race. Why isn’t that ever enough?”— Kate Miller

THE WORRIED MOTHER (Me):  “WW, did you tell our daughter that she needs to get the largest mallet she can lift and carry it with her at all times because I just read an article on Huff Post that millions of rats have been washed out of the sewers of NYC, and they will be roaming the streets in gangs (you’ve heard of the Crips and the Bloods—well, these will be the “Rats”) because they can swim and climb.   Huff Post says that there is a good chance that our grandson could be exposed to ‘leptospirosis, hantavirus, typhus, salmonella, and even the bubonic plague.’”

OUR DAUGHTER (Boo):  “Daddy, your wife is driving me insane!”

“My inner self—The Eternal Worry Wart”| image from

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Posted by on November 1, 2012 in Uncategorized


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39 responses to “When Trouble Comes a Knockin’ at My Door

  1. eurobrat

    November 1, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Glad to hear you and your family are safe! 90% of the problems I worry about are imaginary ones I make up for myself.

    • etomczyk

      November 1, 2012 at 10:37 pm

      Eurobrat. That is what started this entire post. In restrospect, too much energy gets used up on usely crap. We have real Boogey men to fight. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. eurobrat

    November 1, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Ah, you enjoyed my shameless nostalgia. Thank you very much 😉

  3. momshieb

    November 1, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    As usual, you are so right! We need to keep our worries and panic in perspective. So glad that you and yours are safe.
    And so glad to hear that all those rumors I’ve been hearing about you in elevators is just not true!

    • etomczyk

      November 2, 2012 at 1:21 am

      Moms: You are so bad! 🙂 Can you imagine? That maintenance man avoided me for the rest of his tenure. I’m sure he instinctively knew I wanted to ring his neck! Thanks for stopping by–always a pleasure.

  4. talesfromthemotherland

    November 2, 2012 at 12:12 am

    Breath E, breath. So glad your family is safe. It was terrible for so many! As for voting, if you read my recent post (about my affair), then you know I am with you on this one… standin’ by my man! Let’s hope that others do too. Be well.

    • etomczyk

      November 2, 2012 at 1:22 am

      Thanks Dawn. Yes, I did read your post. I hope my nerves can survive election night, although according to Huckabee I shall be spending eternity in Hell because I’m going to vote for Obama. Yikes, where do these people come from?

      • talesfromthemotherland

        November 2, 2012 at 1:31 am

        Church. Just not the church we might attend. I’ll be biting my nails with you friend. Finger’s crossed.

  5. Valentine Logar

    November 2, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Brilliant and funny, as always. I will be burning right along side you by the way, it is good thing I like the heat! I cast my vote turning the state of Texas just a tiny bit purple. Perhaps a few others will see the need to create some purple.

    The things we have no control of are odd, yet sometimes bothersome and we focus on them. So happy your family and you are all safe and made it through Sandy unscathed. I watched in horror as she barreled down across the Bahamas where my in-laws are and then to our eastern seaborne where friends and family have lived happily with only their winter snows to worry them. Have finally heard from everyone now and am sitting back in relief.

    • etomczyk

      November 2, 2012 at 9:12 am

      Val. So glad to hear that your family is doing well in spite of the storm chaos. My daughter tells me that getting around NYC has been quite the challenge. I stopped by your blog site and noticed the change to Hubpages. The most recent post I found was a few months ago–is that correct? I’ll have to droop by again when I have more time and figure it out. (I’m old and change throws me 🙂 ) Take care.

  6. morristownmemos by Ronnie Hammer

    November 2, 2012 at 7:58 am

    We’re going to a pre-election lecture series this weekend; how many minds do you think I can change? Someone told me that it’s a waste of time to debate the election, because NJ always goes democratic anyway. It would be nice if we had power by Tuesday.

    • etomczyk

      November 2, 2012 at 9:47 am

      Ronnie, Well after the love fest your governor gave the Prez, NJ will definitely line up for President Obama. Yeah! (Is it just me or did you have a gut feeling that Romney had pissed off Chris Christie? Call it woman’s intuition but something went down that we’re not privvy to.) Anyway, stay safe and may we be lifting a glass of celebratory champagne on Wednesday! Cheers!

  7. imagesbytdashfield

    November 2, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Nothing witty from this camp today – been battling the flu for a week now and it has been kicking my cute little behind mightily and I hope it gets the hell out of dodge before next week as I’ve got things to do beside lay in bed feeling crappy. Yes! troubles will find us all on our own without us putting out the flashing vacancy sign. Glad you and yours made it through safely. My sister in law and several friends did not. They are all safe but their soundness at water in basements, windows broken, and no power and finding gasoline to get anywhere let alone run a generator is sorely testing their soundness.

    • etomczyk

      November 2, 2012 at 9:57 am

      TD: So very sorry to hear about your family. We’ve been in their position during other storms and I remember how awful it was (pumping out water in a basement, erradicating all the mold, and rebuilding it is not child’s play). WW and I have been going back and forth about the pros and cons of a generator and it never even crossed our minds that one could be in a situation where one couldn’t get gas to make the generator run. Good grief! They will definitely be in my thoughts and prayers.

    • etomczyk

      November 2, 2012 at 10:15 am

      TD: I forgot to mention that I also have the flu–I’m dying here! Take care of yourself, my friend. Get plenty of rest because we want you out and about taking glorious pictures of the fall before it sneaks away from us. Cheers!

  8. Tina

    November 2, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Glad you and yours are safe E. My oldest left NJ a few days before, and, is still in Mexico right now. Guess ole’ Princeton lost some venerable tress and her boyfriend and pet bunny survived a few days without power. I’ll likely be an emotional roller-coaster until Wednesday unfortunately. And my hubby will be calm while pretending I’m not driving him nuts. For now I keep saying to myself, sanity will prevail!

    • etomczyk

      November 2, 2012 at 10:00 am

      Tina. So glad to hear your baby is safe. And I am going back and forth about whether I will watch the election returns. On one hand, it is out of my control so I might as well go to bed and wake up to my fate the next day. But will I be able to sleep?? Somehow I don’t think so. Heaven help us!

  9. composerinthegarden

    November 2, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Alright, Eleanor, I have finally come to understand your writing strategy. First, you lower my defenses by making me laugh so hard that I am crying, wheezing, and coughing (in sympathy) to the extent that the dog is alarmed and comes to check on me. Endorphins triggered, heart opened by laughter. Then, you pirouette into part two, and break that open heart so that it can hear the rest of your message and feel called to action. And make it feel hope as well. Well done, my wise and gifted friend. Well done.

    • etomczyk

      November 2, 2012 at 10:31 am

      Lynn: Thank you for such a gracious comment. That is my formula, by the way (state the obvious, make ’em laugh, and then hopefully break their hearts to do good). I am blown away that someone of your talent and brilliance “gets” me. I am honored and duly humbled. All the best, my friend.

      • composerinthegarden

        November 2, 2012 at 12:28 pm

        It was my honor, Eleanor – your posts are always a “first to be read” 🙂 On a funnier note, remind me to tell you sometime about the day I put too much curry in my husband’s dinner and he cleared the dance floor at a club gig.

      • etomczyk

        November 2, 2012 at 12:50 pm

        Lynn: LOL! LOL! LOL! Oh my word, I can visually see this story about your husband vs. the curry at a gig (I was in a play once when that happened–none of the actors could keep a sraight face). That’s too funny for words!

  10. Sondra Smith

    November 2, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Another brilliant blog! I have been on the crazy train of worry so many times. You would think that by now I would have learned that I have no control over anything. I have resolve never to put myself through that again, until the next time….lol My prayers for all those in the Northeast.

    • etomczyk

      November 2, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      Sondra. Isn’t it the truth? I think women tend to worry more because we always end up being the primary care givers. I found out that having a grandson has really spiked the worry line exponentually. No one told me that if I had children, worry and concern for them would drive me crazy!

  11. becomingcliche

    November 2, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Oh, heavens. I read “get a mallet” as “get a mullet.” Even the rats would be repelled.

    • etomczyk

      November 2, 2012 at 2:54 pm

      BC: You’re too funny! But I was serious about those rats. My younger daughter just threw her hands up in the air. They both think I am a cartoon sometimes.

    • Elyse

      November 3, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      Perfect strategy. Make the rats die laughing!

      • etomczyk

        November 3, 2012 at 1:20 pm

        LOL! So true, Elyse, so true!

  12. nonnie9999

    November 3, 2012 at 5:05 am

    so glad that you and your family are safe, eleanor.

    as to your elevator story, a similar thing happened to me many years ago. i was taking my son to the orthodontist. the elevator doors opened, and a waft of fartiness rushed out of the elevator and smacked us in our faces. there was no culprit, so i guess s/he got off on one of the other floors (if only out of the need for oxygen). though it would mean risking our lives and nasal passages, we had no choice, as there was only one elevator in the building. we took deep breaths and stepped inside the fetid lift. of course, it stopped on the very next floor, and a couple of people entered. they smelled the remnants of the fart from hell and gave my son and i dirty looks. there was no way anyone was going to pin those rancid vapors on us, so i immediately announced, “we didn’t do it!” then, everyone stood around looking embarrassed until we reached our floor and got out.

    • etomczyk

      November 3, 2012 at 9:46 am

      Nonnie. Your story is a riot! I wanted to scream, “I didn’t do it” but I didn’t think they would believe me. In retrospect, I should have let my sense of humor take over and do a routine about the skunk who fled the scene of the crime or something. Or I should have just shrugged my shoulders, not taken myself so seriously and said: “Farts happen–C’est la vie!”

  13. Elyse

    November 3, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    I’m so glad that you are all safe, well except for the rat stuff, which sounds unpleasant. But doesn’t everyone in New York have a handgun from VA so that they can keep unwanted intruders at bay????

    Now I will unbear my soul. 30 years ago when I was very sick I took medication that gave me gas that would, as my sister so cleverly put it, clear Walmart. I walked around in a cloud of stink. It was humiliating. But I could never admit that it was me. Not even when the doctor asked if the med was giving me gas. “Me? Nope.” It was the only bit of privacy I could keep with bowel disease and NOTHING would make me admit it was me.

    Of course I haven’t passed gas since. Trust me.

    • etomczyk

      November 3, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      Elyse, your story is hysterical. These times of vulnerability which I think are sent our way are there to help us not take ourselves too seriously. Glad to know I’ve got friends in the trenches on this one. Thanks for stopping by.

  14. Lindy Lee

    November 5, 2012 at 10:53 am

    In re: Hurricane Sandy
    Having experienced more than several serious hurricanes, the strongly advisable modus operandi
    of choice is gather up whatever is really important to you & get out & away. The only good thing about this type of disaster is we know way in advance of its arrival.

    In re: The elevator incident
    Human ego rides heavily on denial. Most all of us suffer from it to one degree or another…

    • etomczyk

      November 5, 2012 at 9:21 pm

      Lindy Lee–where have you been? I dropped by your site the other day but didn’t see any new postings from you. Glad to see you here.

      You’re so right about just getting the hell out of Dodge when dealing with a hurricane. I don’t trust water and wind when they are combined. They are a lethal combination.

      Elevator ‘toot’ stories seem to be more common than I knew. I’ve had so many people send me the funniest stories of their personal scenes. I love it! Take care.

  15. BroadBlogs

    November 5, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Let me add that I’m very glad you got through the storm and were able to share your story.

    • etomczyk

      November 5, 2012 at 9:24 pm

      Thanks GPlatts. We usually lose something–especially electricity and food. Take care.

  16. The Savvy Senorita

    November 8, 2012 at 7:11 am

    Loved your post, some of it sounded just like my own Mum when she is either A) extremely worried, and that can be about me or whatever else, and B) in panic mode!
    Also wanted to add, I am happy you are safe and sound and Hurricane Sandy passed you, and your family by.
    Bex 🙂

    • etomczyk

      November 8, 2012 at 4:35 pm

      Hi Bex. Thanks so much for your gracious and kind comment about my family. We weathered the storm well although my daughter says that the Norester now hitting NYC (snow) is really causing problems.

      As to the worry wart mom stuff, I think it is in every mother’s DNA. No one ever tell you that there is no cutoff switch regarding anxiousness for your children’s well-being. In fact, every mother takes it to her grave.

      On another note, are you still writing a blog? I tried to access your blog and I got an error message from WP saying that your wordpress blod was not available? Take care.

      • The Savvy Senorita

        November 9, 2012 at 10:34 am

        Hi, thanks for your response!! No problem, my pleasure; as I love reading your posts!!

        Glad you are all safe, but sorry to hear about the snow now. That is bad news. Hoping that clears soon, and normal function is resumed.

        Yep you are correct about Mum’s and their ‘worry wart’ inclinations; definitely a DNA hard wired fact! No, they never stop worrying, which is a good thing though, and I thank my Mum for her care and love!!! Even if phone calls at 11:30 pm ‘just checking’ I’m OK, are sometimes a little too much!

        Yes, I am still writing my blog. Thanks for alerting me to the issue you had with gaining access to it. I’ve contacted the ‘support forum’, as it has happened before. I don’t know why. I have checked, and today it seems to be fine.

        Many thanks, take care.
        Bex 🙂

  17. Mal

    November 10, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Now that is so funny I can tell you. Still grinning from ear to ear as I type this…you’re incredible and your posts are intoxicatingly funny. Loved the elevator scene! 😆


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