Why I can’t forget when it’s Talk Like a Pirate Day

It feels like every single day there’s something to celebrate on Instagram with a hashtag

#nationaldogday

#nationalmuttday

#nationalsiblingsday

#nationalsistersday

#nationalbestfriendday

#nationalbffday

#nationaldonutday

#nationalpizzaday

#nationalwallowinselfpityday

You get the idea.

There are a thousand nonsensical holidays that none of us will ever actually remember, but there’s one I’ll never forget. Talk Like a Pirate Day. To understand why, we need to travel together back 11 years ago.

The year was 2007 and I was a junior in high school. It was my second year of braces and just two days after I passed my driving test. Here’s a 17-year-old me to really set the mood.

10400543_22064111394_9616_n.jpg

Just so you know, I have like 20 other pictures of me and my friend Brittany wearing tubes and being weirdos. Teenagers are weird.

It’s important to note that at this time I was obsessed with High School Musical (2 to be exact). I believed the music was actually quality and spent time trying to convince my mother of its greatness. I remember this because one of the songs was my ringtone.

This one to be exact.

All I want is for Zac Efron to say that I’m the music in him.

So obviously this is embarrassing for several reasons, but it gets worse. It was the morning of September 19 and I was in my first class of the day, AP English. This year we focused on rhetoric. I remember this because I still don’t understand rhetoric. It won’t surprise you to learn I didn’t get a high enough score on the AP Exam to count as college credit.

It’s just a normal morning with my wonderful instructor Mrs. Sherman trying to teach us something. I’m sorry Mrs. Sherman. I even remember some of the summer reading books like The Scarlett Letter and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. I didn’t read them, but I remember. Did I mention you’re a great teacher?

All of the sudden, I hear my current favorite song come blasting out of my pocket. Oh no. I didn’t turn my phone down. The literal horror. Quickly I open and close my pink Razr (still my favorite phone) and pray to God my teacher didn’t notice.

She did.

As I’m fumbling to turn it down, it rings again and I realize it’s my mother trying to call me. The chorus to ‘You Are The Music in Me’ fills the classroom and Mrs. Sherman, fortunately amused, tells me to answer.

At this point, I’m nervous. My mom never calls us during school. She didn’t even like texting us during school hours because we should be paying attention. To get a call during class time must mean the apocalypse was upon us or I forgot I needed to catch the Braces Express for an orthodontist appointment.

I answer anxiously and then I hear her enthusiastic response. Okay, so no one’s dead. That’s a plus. I tell her I’m in class and ask why she’s calling. She then asks why I would answer and I let her know my teacher said I could. Finally, after what felt like 20 minutes, she gets to why she called me.

It’s National Talk Like a Pirate Day. Knowing my deep love of Will Turner aka Orlando Bloom from Pirates of the Caribbean, she thought I’d really like to know.

September 19 is a day that will live in the infamy of embarrassing moments that shaped my youth.

Moving away from my embarrassment, I really love this story. Sometimes when I talk about JT (my name for my mom when I’m referencing her stern side) I worry I give people the wrong impression because of how she sounds. My mom is the greatest. I wouldn’t trade her for any mom in the world, even Meryl Streep. Yes, she was strict and expected a lot from us, but she also called just to tell me it was Talk Like a Pirate Day because she knew I liked pirates. My mom has always been the Hannah Montana* of parents, the best of both worlds between fun and strict.

*I had to fit one more 2007 reference in there

Chemical burns, or why I can’t do it on my own

I am a proud person. My mother raised me to think through a problem and find the solution, which resulted in years of rarely seeking help. This also made me self-sufficient and impatient. I don’t like asking for help and will usually exhaust all of my resources before reaching out. While yes, this can be a valuable skill, it’s often a detriment because I’m fooled into believing I can exist on my own. 

In some cases, I may initially recognize my need for help and seek it out. If it is not immediately available, my first thought is, “can I do this on my own?” Ninety-four percent of the time I say yes. This jump in logic has frequently led to ill-advised moves, but none sting worse than the chemical burns. 

You see, some products require the supervision of someone else. When they say have someone help you, they mean it. Directions exist for a reason, typically to keep you safe and avoid lawsuits. Because I believe I am smarter than everyone and cannot wait for assistance, I typically ignore said warnings and try it on my own.

As a young teenager, I developed a plantar’s wart on the bottom of my foot. It probably grew from shared locker room floor bacteria because I never bothered to protect myself from germs (they make you stronger). It quickly grew into a giant pain that I think consumed half of my foot. It was angry, to say the least.

My mother and I tried everything to get rid of it, including a really crazy home method of duct taping a potato slice to it. Spoiler alert: this doesn’t work and actually hurts a lot. Finally, in desperation, we resorted to the hard chemicals for wart removal.

The process took several treatments to complete, and naturally I was very eager to finish and resume my normal foot life. One evening, when it was time, I asked the other members of my household for assistance. It was some sort of freezing liquid that had to be sprayed directly onto the wart, and because of the chemicals, the wart surface had to be flat to keep from dripping to another area of the body.

When no one could immediately assist me, I pulled a classic Chelsea and decided I could do it myself. I placed my foot on the edge of the bathtub and settled into a lunge-like position. It’s this moment that should’ve been my final red flag, but I ignored my instincts and the wobble of my unbalanced body and continued.

I twisted back, readied the nozzle and sprayed. That motion alone caused my leg to move, pulling my foot and allowing the sweet, freezing chemicals to drip and settle along the side of my foot. I wiped it off as quickly as I could, but the damage was done.

Frantically, I called for help as I saw the blister begin to form. Within minutes, it looked as if a giant, fleshy worm had attached itself to my foot. It hurt to even slightly touch, so regular shoes were out of the question. To make things worse, I couldn’t reapply the treatment for another week to avoid irritation. 

You might think I learned a valuable lesson from this experience. My next example will prove that to be false.

A few years ago, I decided to get a pixie cut. The only problem was my neck and hairline. I am a very hairy person and the hairs don’t grow in a nice, clean way. I used to be very self-conscious, but now I’m like whatever, I have the neck of Wolverine, it’s fine.  

As the stylist chopped off my hair, she nervously pointed out all the hair on my neck and asked if it would be alright to shave. Shave it all I said giddily, I never liked it anyway. 

For the first time in my life, I had a clean hairline and I loved it. But you know the problem? Hair grows back. So I found myself needing to keep that area clean. The most effective method I found was Nair-ing. Typically using Nair is a personal experience, but that changes when you’re putting harmful chemicals onto the back of your neck where you can’t see. 

My best friend/roommate Sam kept my hairline nice and tight for months, but one night she wasn’t home. She said we could do it in the morning, but I was ready now, and Lord knows there is nothing more dangerous than me when I decide now is the time.

Confident in my skills, I lazily slapped the Nair on the back of my neck and looked at the time. Great, I need to take this off in six minutes. I tried to pass the time by pretending to clean my apartment aka looking at my phone. Sometime later, my neck began to burn. Strange, it hadn’t been six minutes, so I ignored it. This is why you should always trust your gut or in this case the painful tingling on your neck.

By the time I took it off, when I thought it was done, it was too late. I had burnt the back of my neck. Yes, the hair was gone, but there was a lovely red patch where the Nair had lived for too long.

The day after carnage

In both these cases, I knew I needed help. There was a reason I’d always had help before. And yet, because I wanted what I wanted in that moment, I did it anyway. Both times (and the thousand other examples I didn’t list), I let my pride get in the way and I literally ended up burned. 

While I’m sure these specific examples don’t apply to everyone because you guys aren’t me, I do know we all get like this. We know we can’t do it on our own and yet we try and try and try. Or worse, we let knowing we CANNOT do it alone keep us from ever trying because we worry about failure. 

We all need help sometimes. When you think you got this, you most likely don’t have this, or you won’t have it for long. I’m not talking about figuring out your independence, because no, longterm you don’t need someone to help you program your TV or show you how to change a light bulb. This is about the deeper need we have in life for help. 

Our culture is about success and pushing the need for relationships away to achieve more. We focus on our careers and school and think we’ll have time for friends later. Guess what everyone – that time never comes. I’ve been telling myself for years as soon as I get over this I’ll have more time for that and I NEVER have more time. Plus, later is a luxury we all aren’t afforded. This moment might be the only one you have.

Until recently, I denied help from everyone. I wouldn’t ask and typically wouldn’t take it when they offered. I believed friends were nice, but I didn’t need them. This naturally reached my relationship with Jesus because I would pray about my stress, but it would always be me saying what I can’t do. I didn’t really think God would help me because I’d never felt the relief of giving up a burden before. I let myself be scared into thinking I needed to do it on my own without opening up to anyone.

In 1 Peter 5, Peter delivers some great advice about persevering and how you aren’t alone. He also tells you to cast your cares on God AFTER you humble yourselves before Him. I don’t know about you, but I’m great at casting and terrible about humbling. 

My pride dictates what I can and can’t do and leads me to believe I can do it on my own. As my illustrations clearly pointed out, the answer is no. When you think about your life and stressors and anxieties, what are your first thoughts? I don’t know how this is going to work. I can’t do this. And then maybe that’s followed by “It’s fine, I’ll figure out.” Maybe, if you’re like me, you throw in a “I trust God” for good measure but you aren’t really giving it to Him. 

Asking for help in any situation involves humbling yourself. It’s admitting you are not God and you cannot do life by yourself. Deep down, we all know we need help, but we’re just terrible at asking. Please know you aren’t weak because you can’t do it. It’s weak to stay where you are, unsure and afraid of moving forward. 

Strength comes from boldly admitting you need help and seeking it out, whether it’s on a project or at work or any area of your life. There are always people who will help you. It takes courage to trust God and live one day at a time, trusting He will reveal the next steps in His time.

I cannot do this in my own. I don’t have the answers. I don’t know how I’m going to be ok. My pride tells me to dwell on this, but my God washes away the insecurities and replaces the fear with perfect peace. He puts the right people in your life to help you with everything, from making you laugh to fixing your car.

Trust in the confidence you have in what God will do and not your pride telling you what you can’t do. 

And don’t use chemicals without supervision.

Trust Your Gut

Arguably one of the worst aspects of getting older is losing the ability to enjoy 95 percent of the rides at an amusement park. As children, we recklessly throw ourselves onto the Tilt-a-Whirl and Scrambler, worrying only of being squished by our riding companion. We laugh with glee as the Wipeout takes us around and around and we beg to ride another time.

Now, at the ripe old age of 26, just picturing those rides turned my stomach. I can barely watch them at fairs and parks because within seconds, I am sick to my stomach. Recently I tried the Pirates Ship, thinking the gentle rocking would be comforting, but within one thrust I was ready to abandon ship.

I’ve become the friend who gladly holds your bags (you’re welcome) while you enjoy the ride and asks if we can ride the train and/or bumper cars again.

There was a time when I roamed carnivals and theme parks, undaunted by the motion of any ride. I proudly rode everything I could, not believing my mother when she said she couldn’t ride because it made her sick. Everything changed at the Big Butler Fair when I was in high school.

[The following story includes details of the first time I realized I had to take my motion sickness seriously, and contains certain reflections that may be too gruesome for your sensitive constitution. Read on if you dare.]

The Big Butler Fair is an annual hullabaloo held over the Fourth of July in Butler, Pennsylvania. It attracts guests from all over Western Pennsylvania with its standard fair atmosphere, boasting animals, greasy food, a fake freak show and drag races maybe? I don’t know. Imagine the mingling smells of all the food vendors, combined with the hay to keep the ground passable and the animal stench wafting from the barns and stables. The standard rides are all present, like the Zipper and Swings.  

One warm evening, my parents dropped me and my older sister, Kristi, off at the fair while they attended a work party. I don’t remember what we rode first, only that when we finished, I felt off. I believe this is the first time I began to notice my motion sickness, although I didn’t attribute it to that. I told Kristi how I felt, and she suggested we eat. As someone who would list eating as one of her favorite activities, I immediately agreed.

We browsed through the food aisles, trying to decide between pepperoni rolls, hot sausage sandwiches, blooming onions and the like. Eventually I settled on a gyro for reasons I still don’t understand. As delicious as it was, the feeling in my stomach didn’t go away.

me and Kristi, maybe a couple of years before this happened i dont know

What happened next is a true example of what it means to be a little sister. Even as a young teenager, my sister was still top authority and essentially we did everything she wanted to do. It didn’t matter how opposed I was, eventually she got her way. I could fight and pout, but I knew I would do listen. She’s my older sister, after all. 

“Let’s ride the swings”

Deep down, I knew this was a bad idea. My stomach basically screamed at me “NO IT’S A TRAP ABORT NO PLEASE GOD NO TRUST ME,” and I tried to listen. I protested, explaining I still didn’t feel well and asking for more time between rides. She countered with how slow the ride was, and how the breeze created from the motion might help. I tried to say no during the entire walk, but to no avail. Like every time before, my sister had her way and I was buckling myself in before I knew what was happening.

As soon as we lifted into the air, my stomach sighed and quietly whispered, “I tried to warn you.”

Before one turn was completed, I knew there was only one way this was going to end. The mouth sweats began and I tried to keep what was coming at bay, at least until the ride ended. I looked at the unsuspecting crowd below, just trying to live their best lives, and I panicked realizing there was no stopping the inevitable.

Suddenly, it happened.

The undigested gyro made its way back into my mouth with such force I had to clasp my hands over my mouth to keep it from exploding onto the masses below. It couldn’t be contained, so my only option was redirection. As soon as I gently floated away from people, I removed the hand barrier and let it fly.

In many ways, I’m grateful it was only the gyro I had just ingested. It probably kept the mess to a minimum. Far too late, the ride ended and my sister got out of her seat, smiling, until she saw me. Wind was my enemy and not everything cleanly escaped, so pieces of pita and lamb covered my chest and seat. Fuming, she basically ripped me out my seat, helped brush the regurgitated gyro off of me and the buckle and stomped away toward the exit gate.

As we walked, I tried to explain that I did warn her, but as I opened my mouth, it happened again. We approached our exit and I projectile vomited even more stomach contents. I had no warning for this one but felt immediately better, like a brand new woman.    

We then waited for our parents to come get us, my sister still mad about what occurred. Or maybe it was because I probably smelled like vomit. I can’t be sure. I, however, felt like a million bucks. A decade or so later and I still recall how wonderful and full of life I was.

[side note: my sister can still ride every ride everywhere we go and gets mad at me when I say I can’t like she hasn’t witnessed the proof]

Yes, this story is disgusting, but it teaches a vital lesson – always trust your gut. This is a very literal example of why you should listen to the voice in your stomach, even when you don’t understand. I didn’t know what was wrong, I didn’t think about motion sickness, but I knew something wasn’t right. Instinctively, I knew what would make it worse.

I didn’t trust my gut and I blew literal chunks all over my life.

We have instincts for a reason. Instinct is an inherent reaction to a stimulus. Inherent is something permanent and essential. So our instinctive reactions don’t come from learning or thinking, they come from us. While this can be seen in big, important areas like being afraid of the dark and heights, we also have instincts in most situations (that maybe we just don’t listen to):

  • When we like someone but aren’t really sure if they like us (instinct tells us underneath the mixed signals and desires if they weren’t into us, we would know)
  • When you hesitate about plans because you just know you will probably end up trapped at a field party until 3 a.m. (field parties are always a bad idea)
  • When you think a friend is being a snake but you have no real proof (snakes are clever)
  • When your boss has a Wolf of Wall Street quote poster and you’re thinking maybe this isn’t the company for you (no part of that story is aspirational)
  • Etc.

With everything in life, there are exceptions. Sometimes that person really does like you and maybe that party will be the best night of your life. Maybe your boss has that poster ironically and maybe your friend isn’t snake-y, just really stressed. This is where our thinking and learning comes in to process the gut feeling.

A great example of instinct is job interviews. When you go in, there is always a vibe. Sometimes you and the interviewer get along great and you know this is the right fit for you. Other times it’s so weird that as much as you need a job, you secretly hope they never call. Those instincts perceive what is happening and let us know what is and isn’t right for us. I’ve accepted jobs I didn’t have a good feeling about before and it never worked out. 

I say all of this knowing I’m great at trusting my gut and also not great at trusting my gut. When it comes to most things in work and life, I’m there. I hear the threat of vomit and I abort before I’m a risk to society. With boys, I hear it but I’m like no, no, I’m not going to throw up this time it’s fine. I choke it down for as long as possible trying to convince myself it isn’t happening but my instinct is always right. 

If you’re reading this and thinking maybe you don’t have good instincts, I don’t know what to say. My thought is thank God you’re alive now instead of scarier periods of history where instincts actually kept you alive. I mean, it could be worse.

Moral of the story: listen to the sweet voice of your stomach. Unlike your deceptive heart, it never leads you astray. When has it ever suggested pizza and it wasn’t a good idea? Or tacos? Or ice cream? It only has good ideas. This is important to remember. Trust your gut.

#TBT: Saying farewell to my glasses

As long as I can remember, I’ve worn glasses. I think I had a few good years of freedom, but by the time I hit kindergarten, I was trapped behind lenses. Twenty years of glasses falling down my nose, dirty lenses and raindrops threatening my vision. On the eve of my LASIK surgery, it feels appropriate to travel down the evolution of my glasses and say farewell to my near constant companion.

It may seem weird, reminiscing about glasses, but when you’re young and in a world without Warby Parker, these looks come to define you. Based on my limited research and memory, I’ve assembled photos from the five pairs of glasses I’ve worn throughout my life.

When you only have five pairs of glasses, you tend to get attached. To the point that I’ve never donated my glasses because they feel so special to me. They’re indicative of where I was in my life and I remember wearing every pair.

Around age five (maybe before, who’s to know I was too lazy to ask my mother), it became apparent I needed glasses. This wasn’t surprising, considering both my parents are practically blind. I lost the genetic lottery because my sister doesn’t need them (except one time she faked an eye exam to get a pair, but that’s a different story).

I was the Disney Queen. Just look at all my swag and missing teeth.

Maybe I hated glasses, but knowing me and my lingering feelings about them, I probably enjoyed being different. And all smart kids have glasses so it was further proof I was a genius (LOL).

Most importantly, I rocked Harry Potter glasses before anyone knew about Harry Potter. When I first read the books, I instantly connected because of the round glasses.

Selfie game strong

By the time I hit pair number two, I was sure I’d never want to stop wearing glasses. See how great they looked? Also notice that is where my glasses constantly live – halfway down my nose. Even worse is the nerdy way I push them up using one finger in the middle. Perhaps my witch nose in all its angular glory is the reason for this constant state of sliding.

These may have been my Hush Puppy glasses. The case was very colorful with hound dog puppies. Unimportant. I just really loved the case.

I won a fire prevention essay contest and got a pillow. You jelly?

Finally we come to the first time I remember making a choice. These bad boys are Nine West, came with a great case that looked like a little purse AND the arms squiggled at one point. Not too mention how the tiny wire frames perfectly minimalized my beady eyes. Sixth grade in general was a bad time, primarily because my mom started letting my make my own choices, like cutting off all my hair and dressing myself. It’s hard to find a good picture of me at 12.

Finally, after turning 13, my mom said it was time for contacts. Up until this point, I felt unique behind my glasses (because like 50 percent of the population doesn’t also wear them) and I felt like I would lose a piece of who I was. Deep thoughts for a teenager. Still, I did it and man the whole world seemed to change.

Eventually my beloved Nine West glasses became too small for my face so I upgraded to DKNY and some plastic frames. Everyone was wearing thicker frames and suddenly wearing glasses didn’t seem so lame anymore. But then glasses became a trend and they got bigger and rounder.

Even my sister questions my glasses choice

During my senior year of college, a mere three years ago, tragedy struck and a minor infection forced me behind my frames for weeks until my new glasses and contacts arrived. I felt so weird behind the brown frames. So small. And I wore mostly black! Ugh, the horror.

These glasses are great, but not made for the weather in Ireland. Blarney Castle if you’re curious

My new pair, however, courtesy of Anne Klein clearance, served me well during the last three years. I wear them without shame or embarrassment and I actually get some compliments. Which made the decision for getting LASIK so hard at first.

It was like I was a young teenager again and felt like I was losing a bit of myself. I’m Chelsea Cummins! I wear glasses! I have to wear glasses! Plus, I really like how glasses look with certain outfits. Am I ready to give that up?

Duh.

As soon as it became a reality, I didn’t think twice. Despite minor moments of panic and doubt about not wearing glasses, I know this was the right choice. I can look in the mirror and think ‘but they look so good’ and then they immediately fall down my nose again.

To convince myself, I think about never looking at someone over my glasses again. I imagine not having to think about the weather before I go outside. I can wake up and see without squinting around. I can bend over without feeling them slide off my face. I can see clearly without smudged up lenses from my greasy fingers and makeup. I can travel without thinking of glasses, contact container and solution. I can take a selfie on Snapchat without J.J. Abrams style lens flares on my glasses.

Basically I can be free.

I know if you read this, you might think cool but this is lame and about your weird relationship with glasses. I get it. But I can impart some wisdom.

Growing up, I’ve really struggled with letting go of the things I think define based on the standards of others and holding onto things because I think it’s expected. More than just my glasses, I let others dictate what defines me. These ideals I create of who I need to be are no more than the reflections from other people.

The best news? You only have to be you. The thoughts of others mean virtually nothing. Don’t let expectations run your life. It’s exhausting. Just because people expect you to be the crazy one doesn’t mean you always have to be ridiculous (unless you want to, do you).

Be who makes you happy and don’t let other opinions hold you back.

And get LASIK because there are at least 57864 reasons are glasses/contacts are the worst.

#TBT: That month when I died my hair six times

It began with a simple conversation about a costume. For my sister’s bachelorette party, we were dressing up like different versions of Britney Spears and going out. As I contemplated my outfit, I said aloud ‘it would be better if I was blonde.’ The reply from my then-roommate began the spiral.

“You should die your hair blonde, like Emma Stone. She looks good as a blonde.”
Because I’m Chelsea, the idea took hold of me and wouldn’t let go. We weighed the pros and cons but finally I decided it was a good idea. Much to his dismay, we went to Walmart late that night and purchased a blonde box of hair dye and hoped for the best.
Spoiler alert: If you have very dark hair, a box job will not make you blonde. You will look like this:
SMXLL

Granted, it’s not a bad look. But I wasn’t satisfied. I did another box of blonde and was unsurprisingly still a brunette. A hairdresser friend confirmed my greatest fear: I would need to bleach my hair to achieve the look I wanted. I realized I couldn’t potentially damage my hair like that, so like a genius I decided to add more color.
I became a redhead because I’m an idiot. Thank God I cannot find any photographic evidence from this terrible week in my life. I did it myself and it was so uneven. As soon as I went home, my mom gave me the deserved ‘you’re such an idiot’ look and quickly commanded it be dyed. So we bought another box, dyed it and I still had spotty roots. My mom had a root touch-up lying around so we added that as well. If you weren’t counting, here’s the total amount of box jobs currently in my hair:
(2) Boxes of blonde
(1) Box of carrot-top red
(1) Box of some brown color
(1) Box of root touch up
We’re up to five, right? And I still had all my hair. It was great. But my hair also looked like this:
SMXLL

While you might not be able to tell, it looks like brunette dye was haphazardly applied all over my head which is exactly what happened. It resembled a chunky brown rainbow. Pretty, I know.
Here is the most important detail I excluded: I did this the month before my sister’s wedding. I tend to lose my mind from time-to-time, but I really thought Kristi was going to kill me given the state of my awful hair. At first, I justified it because it was my hair and I liked it and I’m cool blah blah blah. And then I realized this is what my hair would look like, forever immortalized in my sister’s wedding photos and I panicked.
Luckily, my mom felt the same way and paid to have it done properly. Mind you, this happened the day before the wedding. When the time for photos came, I looked much better:
SMLXL

 Well, my hair did at least.
Then we all lived happily ever after.
Incorrect. My hair did not. I learned the hard way that using red will forever cause your hair to turn copper. For more than a year, I went through cycles. I would get it dyed or do it myself (depending on da monies) and then within a few months I looked like this:
SMLXL

 Yeah. Not my best look.
Eventually, I had to cut it all off to remedy the situation. It was so damaged and weirdly colored and I needed a reason to be brave and try the pixie. Now all is good in the hood of my hair.
The moral of this story: don’t try to make a drastic change to your hair without professional help, and especially don’t do it the month before your sister’s wedding where you’re the maid of honor. Did I mention that part?
Suffice to say, dying my hair blonde seemed like a good idea the time (to me only because let’s be real in what world would that work)

TBT: The perils of SWD (sneezing while driving)

Let it be known here and now I acknowledge that I’m not the best driver. In my almost eight years of having a license, I’ve been in almost as many accidents — all minor and typically not actually my fault (fate is cruel mistress when I’m behind the wheel).
While my accident details range from eye contact with an Amish man to a cyclist who refused to follow the rules of the road, my family’s favorite is the time I wrecked when sick.
I will preface this by saying SWD is incredibly dangerous. Many people (like my family) think it’s a joke, but there have been dozens of accidents caused by sneezes.
It’s early 2012 and I’m working at Sears (round 1) as a fine jewelry sales person. It’s Friday night and I’m scheduled to close and then go home after to spend the weekend with my family. Like most of my shifts, I contemplated calling off due to general apathy but tonight I had a legitimate excuse: I was really sick. Like the gross, snot everywhere kind of sick. Ultimately, I chose money > health.
The drive from school to the mall is around 30 minutes, but in that time I’ve accumulated enough tissues in my lap to wipe the noses of an entire daycare population. So far, the trip has been without incident despite my constant, illness-fueled distraction. Feeling like death, I began the final leg of my journey and turned into a parking spot.
Then it happened.
Without warning, the largest sneeze ever sneezed rose from my lungs and caused the air to be expelled from my body at such a high force I had no choice but to react. Impulse and instinct removed my hands from the wheel to block the large amount of snot and goo about the explode from my nostrils. In the same instant, I fumbled for one of the soiled tissues in my lap to help ease the blow. All of this happened in less than a second, I’m sure of it.
Now if you’re perceptive, you’ll realize I was parking my car and then my hands came off of the wheel. Mid turn into the spot. Most days, the Sears parking lot is abandonded but not on this fateful Friday evening.
Just as I began to process what had happened, I hear this terrible scraping sound and remember I’m operating a vehicle. To my great surprise, I’ve just side swiped the vehicle next to me. Immediately I erupt into tears.
SMLXL

I shakily finish parking and exit my darling LeBronda, just recently recovered from the accident pictured above (a story for another day, involves the aforementioned Amish man). Minimal damage to my car, but that much scraping had to leave a mark. And so it did. Down the length of the other vehicle. The tears begin flowing again as I slowly drag myself into the building. Before I make it, some man in the lot begins yelling at me telling me I can’t hit and run.
First of all, this man isn’t perceptive unless he thinks I’m a terrible criminal. Not only did I leave my car next to the one I hit, but I’m slowly walking into the store. He continues to scream at me until I turn my tear-stained face and tell him I would never do that, I work here and am going inside to make it right. If my sad face stirred any emotion inside of him, he didn’t show it but continued to mutter indistinctively as I walked away. Not only did the sneeze heard round the world cause an accident where I was most definitely at fault, this joker comes along and questions my character and makes me cry more by yelling at me. Seriously, I can’t handle being yelled at. No matter the reason, I will cry.
Second, I’m not so stupid that I would ever walk away. I’m a moral human being and terrified of legal action so I’d rather face the immediate wrath than try to get away with it. I’m not a criminal. Crime makes me nervous. Police officers yelling at me. No thank you.
So finally, after what seemed like hours of crying, contemplation and harrassment, I make it into the store and begin relaying the tale to everyone who notices my incredibly weepy face, mixed with tears and boogers from my ever flowing nose. I call my mom, still sobbing, and she all but laughs and calls me an idiot. Also she’s wonderful and advised me what to do.
Soon I find out it was a coworker’s car, she isn’t mad, we deal with everything and I start my shift, puffy eyed and filled with emotion and germs. I continue randomly crying and leaking a variety of fluids everywhere until I think a manager took pity on me and said I could go home.
It’s been three years since this happened, and I haven’t lived it down. Do you see how much I cried? Yet my family continues to act as if it was the greatest thing imaginable. I get it, I’m not a great driver, but who can stop a sneeze?! Next time you’re driving, pay attention if you sneeze. See the involuntary reactions that occur and put yourself in my shoes. Wrong place, wrong time and you’re hitting a parked car.
The moral of the story is never go to work if you don’t feel like it. JK. If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t risk minor accidents and infecting the public. Now, if I ever feel the slightest twinge of illness, I stay put. One time I didn’t listen to my instinct and look where it got me. Never again.