Being thankful, really thankful

Don Oliver

It’s November, and I’m relatively certain you are expecting my usual column about being thankful for everything we have. We should be thankful. But this November I am especially thankful for two instances that turned out well, when they could have very easily not have had happy endings.

The two events happened on a pheasant hunt, but could have just as easily been on a fly fishing trip. The first instance involved me, the second, a good friend.

When our hunting vehicle pulled to a stop along a row of trees, two guides and six hunters safely disembarked. There was the usual friendly banter going on, as the guides were explaining the direction they wanted everyone to go. Here is where things begin to break down, without anyone realizing it. Just picture six very experienced fishermen, or in this case hunters, several with severe hearing loss, no hearing aids in (you might lose them), all nodding their heads they understood the direction we were to go, and then heading out. And, all but one understood the instructions.

I was the one that got it wrong. I didn’t clearly hear the instructions, and am so tired of saying, “say again” and just headed out with others. Only, as the other five veered into the row of trees, I just kept following my line along the outside of the grove. That’s what I thought I was supposed to do. I had the group in sight, for a short period time, and just kept walking in a straight line. After about fifteen minutes of my quiet walk along the tree-line, I realized I didn’t hear anyone, nor could I see anyone. I stepped into the row of trees, again, no one. While it wasn’t as if I was in the middle of the San Juan Forest, it still gave me some concern. I went back to my tree-line and continued walking in the direction I thought I was supposed to go, thinking maybe everyone got so far ahead of me I’d find them waiting for me at the end of the tree-line. No such luck. I also didn’t flush any pheasants. I was zero for two. Long story short — I found the group, looking for me, as I walked back to where this had all started. I now learned that we were supposed to have walked through the trees, and hunt back in the opposite direction I had walked.

This ended well, but could easily have had a much different ending. From now on, I will do some things very differently. First, I will utter my least favorite two words, “say again.” Next, when possible, I will make sure I have a fishing or hunting buddy in sight at all times. When that is not possible, the new watch I just ordered, with a GPS tracker allowing someone to find me, will always be on my wrist. By following those new self-imposed rules, I should stay safe. It’s a good theory.

The next instance happened at the dinner table. Bear in mind, this was a hunting lodge, but could have been a fly fishing lodge. There must have been twenty-five people sitting at a number of tables. In this group several had first aid training, one was a first responder, and the lodge had all the required equipment to handle any emergency. What none of the afore-mentioned people had, was the code to unlock the phone of my friend who appeared to have a stroke. Getting this person immediate, and professional help, was no problem. The problem came when we were trying to notify my friend’s wife and son that he was headed to the hospital. Think about that for a minute. It seems everyone has a cellphone, and it appears they all need a code to use. This emergency could have just as easily happened by the river or in the field. You could also be by yourself and then find yourself waking up in the E.R. — your phone, with information about you, safely in your pocket, locked.

So, what is one to do? I suggest, if on the river or in the field, turn the ringer off and unlock your phone. Do the same in a restaurant or lodge. That way, the caregivers can get in touch with someone to find out about you. Now, have a great Thanksgiving.

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