Category Archives: LIFESTYLE

CONTRIBUTORS, LIFESTYLE

The Intrepid Guide to Flying On Commercial Airlines

While I am not a billion mile flyer, I do travel more than the average person, and over the years, I’ve accumulated a few basic rules of common sense and basic courtesy that all should follow.

Frankly, I shake my head at what some people do on airplanes. And don’t excuse it because they do not fly very often – a lot of these guidelines are just common sense.

And if you follow these, you’ll enjoy your flight more, the passengers around you will too, and won’t want to smack you with a brick!

Flying On Commercial Airlines: The Guidelines:

Flying Commercial AIrlines1. Don’t recline your seat. The person behind you is in a sardine can already. Why be thoughtless and selfish?

2. You are sitting behind me, yes. But that doesn’t mean you are allowed to use my seat back as a means of pulling your fat ass up from the seated position. You do realize you are sling-shotting me into my coffee, right. And every now and then, pulling my hair.

3. Why do you have to eat food in the plane before we take off? Can’t you eat in the terminal before boarding? Especially stinky food. Really?

4. Middle seat patrons gets both armrests. Period. End of sentence.

5. Go ahead and sleep. But if you know that you snore, be mindful. If you do, I will Instagram your face when you drool all over yourself.

6. Who in the hell farted? Jesus-age-of-Christ-on-a-popsicle-stick. Really?

7. It’s bad enough that TSA makes us take our shoes off at inspection. But don’t do it on the plane. Your feet smell.

8. Enjoy your music. Just don’t make ME “enjoy” your music. #VolumeControl

9. When the flight attendant walks up and down the aisle to gather refuse, this is not license to empty all the crap out of your backpack.

10. If I’m wearing headsets or reading, it means that I don’t want to talk to you.

11. Kids are going to cry and fuss on a plane. That can’t be helped. But the parents better make an effort to try.

12. Don’t kick the seat in front of you. You’d bitch if someone did it to you.

13. Don’t invade my personal space. Your elbow, shoulder, or belly is NOT allowed in my space.

14. If you’re boarding and wearing a backpack and you turn and smack my head with it, I may stand up and smack you right back.

15. When you are the last zone to board, don’t be surprised and don’t complain if you have to check your bag. #Reality

16. When the TSA agent says “Keep nothing in your pockets,” it means the following: KEEP NOTHING IN YOUR DAMN POCKETS.” No keys, no ID, no wallet, no coins and change, no pens, no candy bars…NOTHING. It’s actually quite simple…

17. Why do you wait until the last possible minute to get yourself ready for the TSA X-ray and bag scan process? As in, don’t wait until you get scolded by the agents to remove the STUFF FROM YOUR DAMN POCKETS.

18. When you put your carryon in the overhead rack, can’t you take an extra second to position it so that others can utilize the space too? That overhead bin isn’t your personal, private storage rack.

19. When deplaning, don’t stop immediately after exiting the jetway – and in the middle of the exit area – to check your connecting flight info. There are 200 people stacked up behind you. Get your head out of your fanny, and get off to the side.

20. If it is an evening (or early morning) flight, and you AREN’T reading or doing anything that requires it, please turn off your overhead light. That damn thing is bright.

21. A little hack I’ve devised over the years: If I am assigned to Row 20, I don’t wait until I get to Row 20 to see if there is space in the overhead bin. If I notice available space on my way back, say at Row 10, I’ll go ahead and put my carryon right there, and just pick it up as I deplane. Simple.

22. If you have an assigned seat, sit in the damn thing. Almost every flight I take, someone sits in a different seat. And every time, this causes stress and a commotion.

23. And if you are assigned a window or middle seat and take my aisle seat, don’t ask me if I want to switch. I specifically requested that aisle seat.

24. When getting your luggage from baggage claim, don’t jump all over me and step on my foot to grab your bag. I promise, it will come around again.

25. For gate attendants: We know that you cannot control weather delays, crew issues, or mechanical problems with the plane. But, for God-sakes, I beg you, please get on the PA system and keep us informed. That’s all we want. Well, and a cocktail.

26. When you arrive at your seat during boarding, don’t stand in the aisle for ten minutes extracting all the crap you’ll need for the flight. Get out of the way, there is a long line of people trying to get to THEIR seat too.

27. You don’t get to cut in line just because you are running late. We’re all dealing with tight flight schedules. Manage your time better.

28. Build in some time at the airport pre-flight. Why wait until that last minute? If you have time to kill, so what? No stress, and you’ve got time to grab some coffee or cocktails, and read a book.

29. When we are waiting to deplane and we are ALL standing in the aisle waiting to get off the plane, be sure to scan the area before you blindly open the overhead bin door and smack some poor bastard in the head as it pops open.

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This is BY NO MEANS a complete list. And I will continue to add and revise as time passes, and as new experiences inform new rules and guidelines!

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AUTHORS, HUMANITY, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH

Ryan Holiday: Ego is the Enemy

Joined in studio by best-selling author Ryan Holiday, who joined me to discuss his latest book, Ego Is The Enemy.

Notes and discussion guide from my conversation with Ryan Holiday:

Ryan HolidayWe love to blame others for our problems. Is this the wrong attitude?

Definition: An unhealthy belief in our own importance. Arrogance. Self-centered ambition.

We discuss Ryan’s own personal battles and how they impacted the writing of this book.

I don’t think most of us have a good sense of self. This is that part of the problem.

Our ego damns us at almost every turn (early career moves, success, failure).

We create our own obstacles most of the time.

What do we do wrong to enable this to happen.

The key is conquering your ego. But how…

A learned skill? Are some people just not able to pull this off?

Most people won’t be willing to take responsibility for there life and actions.

The new book pairs with “The Obstacle is The Way.”

Ambition, achievement, and adversity all play a role.

This is still influenced by stoicism.

The goal is “to think less of yourself?”

We are fooling ourselves if we think we aren’t an egomaniac.

Believing in your greatness kills creativity.

Ryan Holiday

Want an explanation for the photo above? See below:
Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 4.46.50 PM

About Ryan Holiday:

Ryan is a strategist and writer. He dropped out of college at nineteen to apprentice under Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power, and later served as the director of marketing for American Apparel. His company, Brass Check, has advised clients like Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as many prominent bestselling authors.

Holiday has written four previous books, most recently The Obstacle Is the Way, which has been translated into seventeen languages and has a cult following among NFL coaches, world-class athletes, TV personalities, political leaders, and others around the world. He lives on a small ranch outside Austin, Texas.

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HR, HUMANITY, SIMPLE LIVING

HR Latte: The Pursuit of Happiness with Dr. Daniel Crosby

Part 1: Guest Dr. Daniel Crosby in a new #KeyPointPodcast series discusses truths behind individual happiness
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HR Latte, episode 93


Series:
 The Pursuit of Happiness

In a follow up to his recent post, “Can Money Buy Happiness? Sort of.” Dr. Daniel Crosby, Ph.D. explores the ideas of how we pursue, find, and hang on to happiness. And, interestingly enough, money can have a factor. In this series, Dr. Crosby and Rayanne will break down how genetics can impact this individual pursuit.

Dr. Daniel CrosbyDr. Crosby is the author of The Laws of Wealth: Psychology and the Secret to Investing Success, additionally, he is the founder of Nocturne Capitol, an investment management firm whose approach is rooted in the science of behavioral finance.

Join us in the new series, as we look beyond what we’ve always thought about the truth of happiness. Rayanne recently published a post, The Pursuit of Happiness: Like a room Without a Roof, which ties in nicely with this series: “Life goes whizzing by so quickly that we can’t even see the joy we have found or slow down enough to embrace it and feel the difference between happiness and a droning existence or what we think we should be doing, how we think we should be feeling — what the world or our world expects of us.”

Discussion Points for this episode:

  • Actually Pursuing Happiness
  • What DNA has to do with it?
  • The Journey vs. Destination
  • Are some people destined to be unhappy? The genetic factors = what is out of control
  • The set point for Joy
  • How Choices Impact Happiness

On Twitter

@DanielCrosby
@Ray_anne
@HRLatte
and @intrepid_NOW

*Click here for past Episodes 1-66

HRLatte is made possible by:

Dovetail Software logoDovetail Software delivers web-based solutions & help desk programs that enable organizations to reduce administrative & support costs, diagnose & resolve complex business problems, and increase efficiency, while improving support.

Rayanne loves hosting talk radio and continues to hone this craft in every way possible by creating and hosting several educational and promotional radio shows, hosting & moderating webinars and podcasts, as well as a featured host on intrepid.media.

For more information about how you can use online radio or podcasting to educate your target audience or customer, compliment your marketing efforts, and grow your brand recognition, feel free to message Rayanne on Twitter, LinkedIn, or via email at rayanne@intrepid.media.

LIFESTYLE

The Intrepid Guide to City Living

As of this writing, I’ve lived in the Chicago Loop for five months. Below are a few observations and lessons for how to properly interact with the city.

How did I come up with them? Well, some are just common sense and a simple matter of being aware of the world around you. But frankly, I’ve evolved in how I interact with the city in the five months I’ve lived here, and I wanted to share the lessons I’ve learned — all to help us better go with the urban flow.

Yeah, these are direct experiences of mine from living in Chicago, but they apply to most major urban centers.

Enjoy. Here we go!

The Intrepid Guide to City Living:

1. When you are waiting to get into an elevator, be sure it empties out before you attempt to get in. Yes, it’s ok to wait an extra second to be sure. And don’t stand immediately in front of the door. How in the heck are we supposed to get out? This same principle applies to allowing passengers to get off the train as well.

1.5. And gentlemen, speaking of elevators: Let the ladies out first, will ya?

2. When walking on the sidewalk, don’t stop suddenly to check your damn phone. There are people walking behind you…people hustling to get somewhere.

3. When you are done eating at a restaurant and preparing to leave, please push your chair back into the table. Be mindful of both the staff and your fellow patrons.

4. When you are walking down the sidewalk, be aware that actual people might be coming out of a building, so that you don’t plow into them. But also, if you are person walking out of building, be aware that people might be coming down the sidewalk, so proceed with a little caution.

5. Pedestrian sidewalks aren’t for biking.

6. And if you are biking in the city, wear a helmet. Those cabbies and delivery trucks might not stop for you.

7. That bar stool next to you isn’t a briefcase/backpack/purse/handbag storage unit.

8. If it is 5 degrees outside, use the revolving door (if there is one). Keeps everyone inside a lot warmer. And in the summer, using the revolving door keeps the cool air inside.

9. If it is raining and you are using an umbrella, be aware of the pedestrians around you, and don’t thoughtlessly poke them in the eye with your umbrella spokes.

10. If you are walking on the sidewalk and approaching a slower person, don’t just mindlessly veer around them. There is probably a faster walker already in that lane. Pay attention. I’ve had dozens of people walk right into me.

11. It’s a train. When it speeds up, or slows down, you need to be ready, and not lose your balance and fall into my ass. Please recognize that something this big needs power to accelerate, and something this big will lurch when it slows down…

12. Thousands of people use various trails to run, bike, or speed walk to get their exercise. So, please don’t walk with your group of five people AND BLOCK THE ENTIRE WIDTH OF THE TRAIL for those that want to pass.

13. If you flick your cigarette butt onto the sidewalk, you are an asshole.

14. It’s ok to stop and look up at a beautiful building. Just be aware of the people moving around you.

15. If you eat at a chain restaurant when you visit a big city, you are simply wasting your life away.

16. Why aren’t you acknowledging the doorman in a building? Don’t you realize how much they can help you if you need something? And learn to appreciate a good one!

17. If you aren’t going to actually walk up the escalator steps, please step to the right so that more active humans can get by you.

18. Don’t stop at the very top of a moving escalator to check your phone.

19. If you are deathly afraid of dogs, why in the hell are you living in a dog-friendly apartment building?

20. When you sit at a bar to grab some food and drink, don’t mindlessly occupy seats that then make the seats around you useless and unusable for other parties. For instance, if you are a solo, sit at the end, and not in the middle of five bar stools.

21. When you and a group of people are riding on a bus or train, be mindful of the people around you, and know that your loud talking, phone call conversations, music, and yes, singing, is disruptive to the people around you.

22. If the elevator door opens for you, and you are standing there oblivious looking at your phone and NOT getting into the car, I am going to press the “DOOR CLOSE” button promptly.

23. Why in the hell are you walking in the bike lane?

24. If a vehicle stops and the driver signals you to cross in front of them, make some attempt to speed up and acknowledge their kind gesture. Why do we feel the need to ignore these drivers?

25. When you make a meal reservation, get there on time for Chrissakes.

26. Going to use a coffee shop? Cool, just don’t occupy a four-top table if you are a solo, especially if smaller tables or counters are readily available.

27. Public transportation in Chicago, otherwise known as the CTA, is AMAZING, and life changing. If you are going to thrive and relish life in the big city, you need to fully embrace public transportation. Like Al Pacino says in Devil’s Advocate, public transportation is the best way to get to keep a finger on the pulse of a city.

28. If you live in a high rise building like I do, you probably have a trash chute. The concept isn’t hard: Don’t put anything into the opening that won’t fit down the chute. Why is this idea so hard to understand?

29. During wintertime, especially in a chilly city like Chicago, you have to wear big thick winter coats, with knit hats, scarves, etc. But it’s the big, thick coats that are a big deal, and very cumbersome. So here’s the deal: when a restaurant offers coat check, please please please use it. Don’t drape your gigantic coat over your chair. It looks unprofessional, people trip over them, step on them, and they are generally just a big nuisance. Utilizing the coat check is just the savvy thing to do.

30. To be a good citizen of the big city, you need cash. Especially singles. It’s just a smart move to have a bunch for when you need to tip people who help you out.

Writer’s note: I will update this list as I uncover new lessons to share! And email me here if you have a suggestion of your own…

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CONTRIBUTORS, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH, SIMPLE LIVING

The Simple Rule For Decluttering

There is one simple rule for decluttering your home, office, and life:

Get rid of one thing. Every day.

I don’t care how trivial. Heck, I am cool with you discarding one pair of socks. That counts, in my opinion.

Now, it goes without saying, that the key for this rule to work? You HAVE TO rid yourself of ONE THING PER DAY. No matter what.

Removing one pair of socks over the course of a whole week isn’t going to have an impact. You need to do this EVERY DAY. One thing. Just one thing.

Here’s what you’re going to find: This will feel tremendously freeing. You will IMMEDIATELY feel the weight lifting off of your shoulders.

Even if you remove just one pair of socks per day.

And you’ll also find that you’ll build momentum too.

Removing the excess clutter from your life will be important, but what you are really striving for here is achieving that feeling of freedom.

Trust me, it is a glorious thing…

So, where did this little rant come from? My wife and I moved to Chicago earlier this year, and live in a simple, two bedroom, two bath apartment. Lots of people I communicate with (especially at our age) simply cannot imagine living in an 1,100 square foot space.

And they were amazed to hear that we recently moved from one apartment to another in four days. And I don’t mean moved all of our stuff out of the old apartment and moved all the boxes into the new, and then spent days or weeks reorganizing all the stuff.

I am talking about four days to get everything put back into its place. Four days.

How did we do it?

Simple. Over the years, we’ve decluttered. And now own only what we need and treasure.

In my view, most people are stuck in a large space because they simply can’t bear the burden of dealing with all the crap they’ve accumulated over all those years.

You know who you are. The garage is a storage unit, not a place to keep your vehicles. Attic? Full. Basement? Full of unpacked boxes from the last move. Storage units? So full of stuff you don’t even know what’s in there.

The ticket to freedom is removing one thing a day.

I don’t care if you throw the item into a trash bin. I don’t care if you load up the car with a pile of stuff to donate to GoodWill. I don’t care if you give it away. And I don’t care if you sell it.

When my wife Stephanie decides she no longer needs or wants an item, she’ll often sell it to an online boutique community. She’s sold a bunch of clothes, shoes, purses, and jewelry over the years.

Where do you start?

How about the junk drawer (you know the one I mean)? Clothes and shoes you never wear? All the junk in basements, attics, and storage units (if the item was important, would it really be in your basement, attic, or storage unit…packed into a dusty box)? And what about the kitchen? Do you really need three bottle openers?

And how to handle the family heirloom you secretly don’t want, but don’t have the guts to discard? Take a photo of it, and then donate it to someone who might actually value and use it. Why a photo? Because if you are honest with yourself, it’s the memory of the thing, not that actual physical object, that gives you good feelings.

And don’t forget to discard life events that clutter up your life. Those count too!

Like what you ask: That meeting over coffee that you don’t really want to do; A networking event where you won’t really meet any people important to your business; that “friend” who only takes and never gives back; or that work colleague who asks for your help, not because they need your insight, but because they secretly want you to do most of the work.

Discard that stuff too. REMEMBER: mental clutter is as big of a problem as the physical stuff…

Here’s a final piece of advice: You will never be perfect. So stop worrying about it. Day by day. One thing at a time. An item that’s important to you today might not be in six months.

Long ago when I started to simplify my life, I tried the typical “Let me spend the weekend getting rid of everything” process.

I failed. Big time overwhelm.

But when I started to remove one thing per day, it began to happen. And you will feel just as free when you discard one thing as you will discarding an entire closet.

So get started. Slowly. You’ll find that you will look forward to opening the garbage can lid to mercilessly toss away that pair of old socks…

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BUSINESS, CONTRIBUTORS, LEADERSHIP, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH

Work With Your Nature – Not Against It!

Game-changers break the rules that others fear to bend. The ultimate challenge for the inspired sales person is to become a “game-changer” – a challenge which delivers rewards equal to its requirements. Game-changers make the rules. They use their instinct to govern, their head to drive as they convince, compel and attract from both their person and their product. They create a standard of care for another that often is not in compliance with the limitations of rules.

People are often turned-off by an approach that is “run-of-the-mill”, predictable and void of the creativity that bears the brand of originality. Here’s a novel approach – engage a person as a person, not a concept! Your customer or prospective customer will thank you for exhibiting behavior that is authentic and often disarming because of its honest approach. “You can’t be all things to all people,” some sage purportedly uttered… Learn your value and don’t surrender it on the altar of “I have to please everyone” – you’ll end up pleasing no one and gravely disappointing the most important person in the equation: you! (See “Always Forward!” secret # 5 – “The Rule of 33-1/3 Percent”)

Make it a personal challenge to do that which provides a relief from boredom. Boredom is that unfocused haze of distraction that casts its cloud over the average business person’s day. You may work with or for average; these people show up physically but not mentally. They do just enough to get through the day, expanding four hours of work into eight. They pick up a paycheck, go home to the blank void of fabricated distraction until the alarm goes-off signaling the start of the next day’s “walk through”.

The fun, for me and it may be for you, is found in the game – get in play; risk making those mistakes that generate growth through intelligent risk. Risk creates opportunity. Opportunity is that which we make available. Make opportunity available and seize the initiative. Forward movement, directed and managed with purpose and conviction will make you distinctive. Look around you – most people look like outcasts from a Walking Dead casting call. Now, you are going to get bumped and bruised, you’ll miss the mark at times, you may offend and the meek and mild aren’t going to “like you”. They will fear you – embrace it! People are change averse. Mention the word, and watch their knees get weak. They don’t know what the change is or what it means, but their instinct sends a signal, “Not good – not good – saber-tooth tiger – not good!” We’re hardwired to fear loss and avoid change. We deviate from this internal wiring by degree – each of us are unique, bearing our individual stamp of DNA imprint. My suggestion is to work with your nature, not against it. You either have the “stuff” to change the game, or you may want to partner with those people who do and can.

Speaking of “those who can and do” – remember this: ego with talent is confidence, ego without talent is arrogance. Be humble, be hungry, be confident. Treat people with respect, but follow your inner-rebel, the one that is imbued with ethics, integrity, manifesting the character that defines your nature.

You will grow daily as a person from the self-challenge of risk and the demands of authenticity. When you bring constructive contribution to your company’s system, you can animate that system – you will make it vibrant, it will come alive from the pulse of your personality. Your personality can bring the vibrancy of color and feel to the staid, non-descript conformity of the system. You can follow in lock-step and be the soldier in the rank and file, but we need those who push the boundaries of possibility and create new standards, fresh tracks in the snow, the path of achievement that now can be followed by others.

We need the panache and the originality of the game-changer. Game-changers spearhead innovation. They are on that bleeding edge that cuts and enables. They take the cuts, bleed, learn, adapt and grow.  They grow their personal platform and further our strategic vision. They are the ones that create those opportunities that we cash when we make payroll, pay debt, provide benefits and provide contributions, rewards and bonuses. We all flourish from the risk, the sacrifice and the results of their efforts.

Our companies need people on the support lines. We also need people on the front lines – those are the ones that feed our support teams as our support teams provide stewardship and care that feeds credibility and residual income to the front lines. Look in the mirror. Be realistic – are you willing to pay the price that each position requires? Within each position in the company, be it sales or service, YOU have the opportunity, every day to change the game for yourself, your family, your team and your company. You can be a game-changer in sales just as you can be a game-changer in service. Find a way to yes, find a way to anticipate and address a client’s wishes and needs.

It takes courage to change the game. There is risk, there is reward, there is disappointment, loss, success and gain. I think Churchill sums it up best, “Success is going from failure to Failure Without Losing Your Enthusiasm.”

Locate your inner Churchill – find the energy, the enthusiasm, marry it with self-belief and the product of the union will change the game!

Create or follow a path, make a choice, but whatever the choice may be, go “Always Forward!”

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Game ChangerBill Wooditch is a keynote speaker and peak-performance business training coach. He is a mentor and advocate for those who actively seek and are determined to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.

He began his career with $200 to his name, a suitcase, one corduroy suit and two ties. Retreat wasn’t an option; there was only one way – Always Forward! His purpose, energy and conviction fueled his meteoric sales success. In two years, he “found a way and made a way” to become the top salesperson at Liberty Mutual – a company employing over 19,000 people at the time. Ready for the “next challenge”, he was recruited by and joined the 6th largest broker in the world, Corroon & Black (currently the Willis Group), where, for two consecutive years, he earned the distinction as the top producer in the company.

Today, he is the founder, CEO, and president of The Wooditch Group, a privately held risk management and insurance services firm. The Wooditch Group provides client-centric solutions and comprehensive risk management programs for domestic and international clients whose revenues range from $10 million to over $3 billion. He is also the founder of Think Next, Act Now!, a company that trains and mentors tomorrow’s entrepreneur today.

He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at Purdue University and his Master’s degree in Public Administration at Penn State.

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HR, LIFESTYLE

NYC 15 Years Later: The Memorial and Never Forgetting

memorial


“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.” –John Steinbeck

15 Years Later, New York City: the Memorial and Never Ever Forgetting                

How do you start a story about something that you don’t really want to talk about but have to? How Do you tell a story about the lives of people that you were just getting to know who were taken from you through an act of senseless terror, only days after your birthday on a warm summer morning? I don’t know, I know. Maybe this is not a story that will be written well, a page turner if you will, but, it’s not a story; It’s real. Many of us in the little aquarium we call life find ourselves smacking our heads against the glass, wondering why we are trapped and how we can get out. Thanks, Pink Floyd. So, if you want to go on this emotional roller-coaster with me, then here is your ticket, if not, frankly I do not blame you. Honestly, I hate that I pulled that number myself, but at times life is, as I often say, a dark ride. I did not choose it, but you did, so, come on in, it’s a long read, but I hope it’s worth it, and you will understand why I wrote it.

So the Ride Begins: The Preface

My first trip to NYC was when I was ten years old and there were three things I wanted to see: the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and the Trade Center Towers. When you are ten years old, it’s the big things, not the little things that matter to you and this was how old I was when I got to see, firsthand, those sites. To me, the Twin Towers were the greatest thing I had ever seen. I had gone there many times after that first trip. Over the years, I always marveled at the height of the towers and how the steel and glass glistened in the daylight. At night, it would glow like two behemoth beacons beckoning for you to come inside and see the city from its perspective. There was an observation deck on the top floor of one of the towers – I forget which one now, but due to its height and wind shear, you were not allowed to be outside like you could at the Empire State Building. Good for me I suppose, as heights are my Achilles heel. I get vertigo being above ten floors is often, if not always, overwhelming – especially if I am outdoors. I suppose this is what ended my mountain climbing career.

Then it happened, the attacks on the Towers, the Pentagon, and the brave souls in Pennsylvania. When I do speak of that day, and I rarely do, I always cry because, not only the tragic loss of life, but also, the loss of the world’s, and my, innocence. On that fateful day, seven of my friend’s lives were snatched from them in Tower One as it collapsed in on itself – much to the horror of those who watched, powerless and stunned, as it fell. I sat helplessly in Phoenix, thousands of miles away, as I observed the South Tower fall on the television screen. There was nothing I could have done and the hopelessness which gripped me has never been stronger than that day.

The Return – Part One

memorial

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” –Vicki Harrison

Roughly a year later, I was offered a trip to NYC to see the Arizona Diamondbacks play against the New York Yankees in a baseball rematch of the 2011 World Series. I am a diehard baseball fan and jumped at the chance for a free trip and a four-game series inside one the oldest and most historic parks in the US. We planned our entire trip to the big city from what Broadway show to see, museums to wander, and of course, what diners we would be eating delectables in the city. None of us spoke about the towers, not once. The group I was going with knew about my loss, and I suppose did not want to upset me by bringing up what happened that day. I was the only one in my group who had lost someone, let alone seven people – so how to be empathetic was lost on them? They are not bad people, mind you, they just had no idea how to broach the subject and I know I would have been the same way, it’s not something anyone thinks about, until you do.

We were going to spend six days in the city and had everything planned out, except the last day, the last day was a free day for everyone to do what they wanted, on their own time – at their pace. There was the talk of a trip to MOMA or Coney Island. There is much to do in the city that never sleeps. The trip was a great one, and I was pleased that everything went off without any issues and was looking forward to our bonus day, although I had no idea what I wanted to do, well, there was something.

King KongThe whole time we were in the city, I longed to go to Ground Zero, the place that even the great King Kong of the 1976 movie fame could not topple – the massive towers and, yet, they were gone.

Morning arrived on my last full day in NYC and as I rose to wash my face, still having no idea what I was going do with the day. I got dressed and while putting on my shoes, there was a knock at the door. I assumed it was just the house cleaning crew as I may have forgotten to put the do not disturb sign on the handle the night before. I was thoroughly taken aback when I opened the door, and my friends, all of them, were standing there. Bob, the elder of the group and the unofficial leader, said, “After you had left last night we all took a vote, it was unanimous, we are taking you to Ground Zero.” I felt my heart swell with pride and love that I had for a group of people who were willing to give up their free day for me to go and pay my respects at the site without having to be alone. Bob was a native New Yorker but had not been living there for over 30 years. He knew the city was hurting, I was hurting, and he recognized this was the right thing to do, or so we all thought.

When we got downtown, my anxiousness and fears set in as there were no behemoth towers, as we drove up, where they were supposed to be. There is an old joke; you know that light at the end of the tunnel? That is the train coming. Here I was stuffed into a cab on a hot summer day with the smells of the city and Aqua Velva emanating from the driver, as the reality of what had happened in NYC on September 11, 2001 hit me with full force.

This actually happened. I am going to have to own this pain now as this is not a dream, they were gone, and nothing would change that, nothing.

NYCWe arrived a few blocks from the site, and I scooped up my disposable camera I had bought to take pictures to hang in my office and, with a deep breath, began to walk toward the debris that even after a year was still was being cleared away. In the distance, I could see the makeshift memorial, the pictures, the flowers, the hope that, for some unexplainable reason, a loved one or friend would rise from the ashes and hug them again. I was only one block away but… I never made it.

kiss a strangerInstead, I dropped to my knees, unable to support the weight of the pain of my loss. There were now, not just seven people in my mind, but thousands and the burden of seeing those fliers on buildings, fences, and trees were too much, I was having a panic attack and didn’t know it. Bob was the first one to reach me, as he was literally by my side, but he was unable to lift a guy my size. The others quickly came to me and helped me up and asked the standard question, are you ok? I was not, even my dry wit had abandoned me, and I quietly murmured, I want to go back to the hotel.

So, we did. I made my way to the hotel bar and asked for a drink, a stiff drink. I know if there had been a pool of whiskey or vodka somewhere, I would have been swimming in it and drinking my way to the bottom. It was depression to the highest order, this was anger, and it was unresolved sorrow. I drank until I passed out and not one of my friends left my side. They put me to bed, helped with the hangover the next day, and never said a word.

The Return – Part Two

memorial“While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till it is digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it.” –Samuel Johnson

I am writing this the day after my trip to NYC (New York City) to speak about a point in my life that I had been putting off for over 14 years. I had been to the city a few times after 9/11, but I could never bring myself to go to where the towers once stood proudly in the financial district of the city, near the banks of the Hudson River. After 13 years from that first trip back, I had yet to return to that part of New York again. I had been up once or twice, but I never went downtown to the district. It was where “it” had happened, where the towers were taken down, and the fact that I am, in fact, utterly human and completely fallible. The debris was gone, a new single enormous tower was constructed next to the site of the original Twins, and the city had moved on. I received a message from my friend Rayanne Thorn that she was coming to NYC to meet with friends and do some business and was hoping that I could come up for a family style dinner on a Thursday evening. I had finished a project and was waiting to start a new full-time role a few weeks away, and I thought why not, so I said yes knowing full well that although I did want to see her and others, I had an alternative motive this time to return.

I called my good friend Steve Levy and asked if he was around to pal around with me on Thursday before the dinner and I had a favor to ask of him. I wanted to go and see the tower and the memorial for 9/11. Steve had lost a friend, no, a brother who was one of the firefighters that died risking his life to save others. He carries his picture in his wallet with him, as I was later to find out. Me, I only had names and memories. He, of course, said, “Absolutely man, absolutely.”

I arrived on Wednesday had dinner with a friend, Mike Astringer, a fellow recruiter. A drink later with Levy and then it was Thursday morning. I awoke with palpitations and angst, the same I had felt those many years ago. We had breakfast and took the subway to downtown to see the memorial, the tower, and my past. I don’t know if he did it on purpose, not knowing my previous encounter with this site, or he did it for effect, but we got off a few blocks away from the Tower and began to walk.

We joked like we always did when we were together and the jocularity kept things light as the magnificence of the Freedom Tower loomed closer and larger, as did the angst rising within me. When we got to the tower, the landscape was entirely different, I recognized nothing, it was all different, but in the right way. The sun was shining and although it was cool outside the mood, was nothing like that. There was hope in the air. There was no more crying, no more leaflets or trash, and there was actually laughter in the air. Children were staring in awe at the foot of the Freedom Tower, not knowing the history, just taking in the magnificence.

We made our way to the Memorial and walked up to where the South Tower once stood and those feelings came back to me: pain, fear, despair, and loss. I was older now, and there was a distance created by time, yet it felt like 2002 all over again, and there was a tightness in my chest. We pressed on and arrived at the Freedom Tower. I was amazed; here I stood at the tallest building in the northern hemisphere, and I looked at it as if I were meeting one of my favorite authors, star struck. I am telling you; this was a bucket list moment.

The Memorial, the Hug, and Releasing Everything

memorialWhere I live, if someone gives you a hug it’s from the heart. – Steve Irwin

It was time to go to the Memorial and say goodbye the proper way, while paying my respects to not only the seven but to all who lost their lives that senselessly day. When I arrived at where the South Tower once stood, I was silent. I wanted to look for the names of my friends, I wanted to scream, I wanted answers, I just wanted something, what I wanted was peace, I wanted them back. I was holding it all back just breathing heavy and staring at the names and the splendor of the water flowing down the falls, the endless repetition of the water, there was so much beauty in front of me yet I only felt heartbreak. Steve and I made our way to the North Tower, the last tower to fall, and the one that, when it did, took his friend. He told me the stories of being lifeguards together when they were together and showed me the picture he still carries in his wallet of his friend. Soon we separated, to reflect alone, and that, my friends, is where it all sort of fell apart. I was just standing, staring at people, thinking, remembering that night we all met, what a night it was. We were all recruiters sharing stories about life, about ourselves, safe, now gone.

,A couple around my age were taking pictures and trying, as our generation does, to take a selfie of themselves in front of the inverted fountain before us. I stared at them wondering why this was some Kodak moment for them, but trying to feel no emotion and not completely break down, I went to move on only to have the wife jump in front of me and ask if I would take a picture of them. I replied, if you agree not to smile, this is, in a way, a graveyard and should always be respected. I have never seen eyes like hers stare at me and say, “You are of course right, we just want to document that we were here, our first time in NYC and all.” I realized my arrogance and said, just kidding in a genuine way to make them feel better as I was wrestling with my demons of 15 years and trying to stay calm. I took a few shots of them and, oddly, they did not smile, they knew, maybe, that this was not a celebratory place, but a memorial.

Once picture time was over, I smiled and was ready to slide back into keeping inside, pushing down my feelings and fighting back the tears trying come out. The woman said, “Thank you so much, are you from here?” No, I said, I lost seven friends here 15 years ago and at that moment the world stopped turning, there was no sound at all, just quiet within my mind. Pompeii then rose, and there was no holding anything back. I began to shake then cry, and the tears flowed. With no lack of hesitation, the woman standing by my side, the woman whose name I did not know, took me in her arms like a mother comforting a wounded child. She whispered, “It’s going to be all right,” her husband put his hand on my shoulder and said a short prayer then waited until I could finally, let go. It was nothing less than cathartic and cleansing; the demons were found and  released, and I could breathe again. I nodded my head and wandered till I found Steve, it was time to go somewhere, anywhere else other than here.

The Dinner and New Beginnings

Steve and I wandered the city after that, continuing our inner reflective journey. He often spoke of his world before and after, I was, oddly quiet as I am usually more verbose. Later, we had a drink with a mutual friend then off to a dinner planned by the irrepressible Rayanne Thorn. I don’t care much for large gatherings and usually shy from them but on the same note, it’s often hard for us to all meet up somewhere without the pressure of talking at a conference. Other than Steve and Rayanne, I knew no one at the event planned yet, from the moment I walked in I felt as if I was in a room of siblings and family I never knew existed.

7 new friendsWe laughed, smiled, and told our stories of how we all knew and met Rayanne; oddly it was mostly in a bar…another story I suppose. 😉 All the while, the day that was now behind me still lingered in mind, one last little demon still tapping on my brain. I was present but felt that to sum up the last 15 years needed to be brought out, I am a storyteller, you know. So, I told them at the dinner table after our meal the story you read here and the love that I felt, hugs that I received, and the stories that we shared made it one of the maven nights in this guy’s life. I must say that I thank all of you who were at that table for taking a moment to pay tribute to those who died that infamous day. Although I will never forget the seven people that I lost, I am grateful for the seven new friends I made that night, honored, humbled, and appreciative.

#truestory and, well #life

 

 

LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH

Roy Craft: An integrated life, embracing change, and train for spontaneity

Joined on the show by Roy Craft, President of GroupSpace LLC.

Roy has had a long and varied career from technical and retail fields to international corporate business to non-profit and higher education. He has simultaneously had strong avocational interests in positive peace, sustainability, education and making.

Four key takaways from our conversation with Roy Craft:

1. The importance of developing an integrated life as opposed to a balanced life, and how the Millennial generation is showing us the way to do this;

2. The extent to which we have divisions and segmentation in our society which we accept as normal today, but which in an historical context have not been so….such as the idea that we need to educate differently for the sciences and the arts;

3. We need to embrace change and dynamism. Diversity is not enough, but it is a start; disruption is not the goal but it’s a beginning.

4. We can train ourselves in spontaneity and bring this into our lives to create something new, something happy, something wonderful and fulfilling of our lives.

This interview was originally published on A New Business Mindset.

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HR, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH

“It’s” a Shame, Not Me.

I wrote and I published.

I recently published a post about an incident in Dallas while I was traveling for work. I was drugged at a trusted restaurant by a bartender / night manager, who followed me into the bathroom and subsequently tried to pull me in the men’s room. This happened in the middle of April, and it has traumatized me far more than I like to admit. I have kept up a good front and tried to smile through it all.

I originally wrote the referenced post a few days after the drugging occurred, but I was unable to actually hit the publish button until 4+ weeks later. I still suffer from nausea, dizziness, insomnia, digestive issues, and headaches. What I don’t know is if these are the ill-effects of the drug or is it how I have reacted mentally to what happened. I will survive, trust me and I will scream what happened to me from the rooftops. I will post, comment, tweet, snap, pin, insta, and link it to as many different sites, to as many different people, as possible.

Why the Follow-Up?

I write this follow-up because I have been overwhelmed by the hundreds of people who have messaged me in public and private about their own terror and their own brush with this type of drugging. Innocent women AND men who felt the shame I felt, who still carry those scars with them, who were violated in one way or another, who were raped or robbed, abused and broken.

In conversations, written and spoken with friends and others in my own town of Laguna Beach, I have heard from or about dozens of individuals who experienced this here, in their own town – they weren’t traveling and they were at popular, local restaurants or bars. Most had been raped.

I know I was lucky

I know this – I know that my situation could have been far worse. There have been times when I wish it had been, so medical professionals and law enforcement officers, and even some friends and family, had taken me more seriously. That is sad – that is horrifying. I KNOW it could have been worse, but saying to me, “At least you weren’t raped” doesn’t ease my suffering or take away my nightmares. It makes me shake with anger for the many who were, scream for the men who were robbed or beaten, and cry for the young girl whose boyfriend betrayed her, beat her, and dumped her outside of her apartment. And continue to weep for those who hide their shame, who still haven’t told anyone of their terror – because they fear, because they want to forget.
But they won’t ever. I won’t ever.

I know why.

I have also heard why they keep it a secret. Why they cloak their faces. Why they avert their eyes.
Why they feel shame.

“Well, you shouldn’t have been drinking.”
“See what happens when you drink?”
“You shouldn’t travel alone.”
“You need to be more careful.”
“Stop talking to people you don’t know.”
“Maybe you need to slow down.”
“This only happens at frat parties or on college campuses.”
“Such a new and horrible thing that is happening.”
“What were you wearing?”
“Did you show cleavage?”
“Did you flirt with him?”
“Why did you give him your name?”

“You shouldn’t have been drinking…”

  • I wasn’t drunk – I didn’t drink too much.
  • This happened to individuals drinking water, Diet Coke, Red Bull, Lemonade, and so on.
  • I have to travel alone AND I like traveling alone.
  • Yes, I will be more careful and will never again take a drink from someone I don’t know or don’t see them pour. Nor will I leave my drink alone or turn my back on it. This one I accept.
  • I will always talk to people I don’t know – it’s who I am, it’s what I do.
  • I’ll slow down when I’m dead.
  • No, it doesn’t only happen to young women in college. I’m 52.
  • NOT new. One friend told me about how it happened to her 40+ years ago. Oh, and Bill Cosby. Not new.
  • I was wearing a tank top with a sweater and baggy pants from Talbots (better known as the old lady store – because guess what? I’m an old lady)
  • Yes, cleavage was showing. Guess what? I have cleavage.
  • I wasn’t flirting, but if I had been – would that have made it ok? I was smiling. I was happy. Was.
  • He had my name because I paid the bill with my credit card
    (Which, interestingly enough was refunded a few days after the incident.)
  • And this happened because it just did and it does to too many people all the time, every day. And it happened because it is a crime that bad people get away with. No one presses charges because it is nearly impossible to get a conviction or even charges. And because someone close to them says or asks the things above. Because we, the victims, are shamed.

No, your Diet Coke won’t protect you.

Blame it on alcohol or the fact that I had a couple drinks?
Blame it on me for traveling alone?
Blame it on what I was wearing?
Blame it on me for being gregarious?

Blame it on everyone or every thing but the man who did this to me and the restaurant who covered it up?

This is real – this is a real danger we all face in our world.  This could have been your daughter, mother, sister. It could have been YOU.

No one “deserves” this.

I didn’t get what was coming to me and I refuse to be a woman who plays the victim, who locks her door every second of every day, one who carries a stick with her everywhere.
Because I fear. Because it could happen again. Because there are bad people.
There are also good people. There are more good people.
And there are MORE people than you know who have been drugged by someone who wanted to take advantage of them in one way or another. 

We need to make it NOT alright for someone to get away with this.

MANY people have messaged me privately and publicly to say this has happened to them, too. Thank you to those who were brave enough to do so, and I’m so sorry. To those who couldn’t or didn’t message me, I get it, I understand. You are not alone. And I am so sorry you went through this and felt you had no recourse, no one to share it with, no one to report this crime to.

It’s not just women who are raped.
It’s not just women.
It’s not just someone drinking alcohol.
It’s not just someone dressed sexily or one who flirts.
It’s not someone was out or traveled alone.

Not my first rodeo

This happened to me before at an industry event in Las Vegas, at a Human Resources and Recruiting Conference. Someone I knew drugged me. I kept quiet because I was embarrassed. Because I didn’t know what I could do. Because I felt shame. Because I wasn’t sure who did it and I was worried about them and not me.

I will not ever be quiet about this. I won’t be quiet again.

LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH, WELLNESS

My Story, My Warning: I was Drugged.

I Was Drugged

Probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to write.

Mostly because of the shame attached to that phrase and the unpleasant explanation that follows.

I didn’t want to write this. I didn’t want to file a police report. I didn’t want to pee in a cup. I didn’t want to tell my children or my mother. I didn’t want to tell my friends.

But what I don’t want more than any of that is: I don’t want that creep to do it to anyone else ever again. Because, I know – I KNOW – he has done this before. He’s done it before and he hasn’t gotten caught. He’s done it before and no one has reported it, no one has filed charges.

The Story

I arrived in Dallas from LAX the evening before an HR technology conference, in time to have a friend pick me up at the airport and go to dinner. My friend Jackie selected one of her favorite Mexican cuisine restaurants near the Turtle Creek area of Dallas. I love Mexican food — being a California native and resident, it is often the meal of choice in my home and among my friends. The small beach town where I live has several Mexican restaurants to choose from, so I was excited to try a new place.

We arrived and were seated quickly – we ordered a couple skinny margaritas and cruised over the menu several times – plus talked incessantly about life, love, and work. We were having a great time. By the time we ordered our food, our 2nd margarita arrived. Between chips and the chimichanga, plus being a “lite margarita” – Jackie and I felt no effects of the alcohol.  A third round was ordered, but Jackie, being a wise and thoughtful friend, but also the driver for the evening, abstained.

It wasn’t long until a tray with two vanilla shots arrived, compliments of the Night Manager – “You ladies seem to be having a good time.” We were informed to sip it, not shoot it. Jackie took only a very small sip – but I drank it slowly down, still having felt no effects from the margaritas. Another tray of shots arrived, tequila this time. Jackie, again refused, the night manager insisted she, “Just take an Uber.” She stuck to her guns. I did the shot – within 10 minutes, the night manager was at my side, whispering and giving me a ‘scram’ head nod to, “Go the the bathroom, Rayanne.” I, innocently thinking, he wanted me to leave so he could flirt with my friend, did as he suggested.

I entered the bathroom and proceeded to use the toilet. While I was peeing, the Night Manager entered the bathroom – I froze – an intense feeling of personal danger suddenly came over me. I could see him through the crack in the bathroom door, he stood there, listening to me pee. I stared at his shoes. Then he left.

What do I do???

Thoughts began racing through my head and I felt like I was losing control. I know now, that the drug was in almost full effect at this point. I still did not comprehend the absolute fullness of what was happening to me. I washed my hands and left the bathroom quickly, but he was waiting for me outside the ladies’ room. He called my name and tried to pull me into the men’s bathroom. I pulled away and put my hand up in front of his face – my fingers extended – and screamed, “No!”

I walked/ran away as quickly as I could and grabbed Jackie, telling her, “We need to go – we need to leave – he just tried to pull me into the men’s room.” We gathered our things and went to the car — that is the last thing I remember – but not the last thing I did.

I sat down in the car, we drove to my hotel about 20 minutes away. I got out of the car, got my luggage and went to the counter. I checked into my room, giving the desk clerk my ID and credit card. I signed the receipt and put my license and my credit card back in the right place. I took the elevator to my room, used my key to enter my room, locked my door from the inside, set out my luggage, set up my computer and climbed into bed.
I don’t remember any of this.
NONE of it, I have a 4-hour block of amnesia. Complete amnesia – the next thing I do remember, slightly, is throwing up violently and showering and bathing, showering and bathing (yes, twice each) to try and rid my system of whatever I had ingested.

I was not drunk, I was not hungover – I was drugged.

How do I know? Because it has happened to me before and I was too ashamed to say anything to anyone until many years later.

When I woke the next morning, I was in bed – completely naked, my hair was sopping wet with only a vague memory of showering and bathing and throwing up during the night. I couldn’t even tell you what floor my room was on. My only clue was the key card and its cover sitting neatly next to my computer on the desk with the room number scrawled on it in Sharpie.

As I walked around my room trying to piece together what had happened, I felt a sharp pain in my foot. I looked down and saw my pinky toe sticking straight out from the side of my foot, swollen and red, bruising already started. I can only ascertain that I kicked the door jam in my hotel room in the middle of the night – I have no memory of that. But I sure felt the pain then.

I Had to Work

I was in Dallas for work — I had to pull myself together for work. I was responsible for getting things set up: for putting together equipment, for making sure everything was in place and ready for the event. I had to smile all day. And I could barely make it to the bathroom. I laid in bed wondering what to do – I shared my story, as a caution, with a FB group to which I belonged. Their support was incredible but a nagging theme emerged – while Thank God I was ok, I needed to report this.

I didn’t want to – I knew what a pain in the ass it was going to be. I pushed it to the back burner because, well – I needed to work. So, I girded my loins and I headed out the door to begin my day in an Expo Hall. A sickening nausea – the kind which accompanies a concussion – was my constant companion, along with a sore foot, dizziness, and general malaise.  I got through the day, doing all I needed to do, but I was a Zombie. Some of my light had left me. 

That evening I shared my story with my grown children via group text messaging. They were angry, of course, but also scared for what might have happened. They were disappointed I had not reported the crime – I countered that I didn’t have time – that I was there for work and there was still work for me to do. But I researched and researched some more. A blood test is no longer needed to see these drugs in your system – a simple urine sample will suffice, for up to 72 hours, after an encounter with Rohypnol – if it were GHB, it would already be out of my system within 12 -24 hours.  So, I started planning – how can I report this, get a lab test done, and still put in 4 more hours in an Expo Hall the next day, plus pack up everything?

The Uber Driver

The next morning, I pinged for an Uber. One arrived shortly: a compact white Mazda. Harold got out of his little white car and helped me with my luggage. I relaxed instantly. Until that moment, I had been afraid – I worried I would not be able to get in the car, that my fear would overcome me, that my trust was completely lost, and that I would hold the actions of one against the many I needed to trust in my life of travel.

But, the right driver was sent to me. I asked Harold to drive me to the police station – he turned, concerned and I told him my story – he stayed with me for the next 45 minutes. He waited outside the closest police station for me – but get this, it wasn’t open — just a remote station. He waited for me outside the Starbucks where I bought breakfast for us both, while I regrouped and re-planned how I was going to do this. I had asked Harold if he had an important lady in his life – he hung his head shyly and said, “Yes, I have a special lady.” I told him to care for her and share my story – this can happen to anyone, at any time.

My trip to the police station would have to wait until later that day — I had four+ hours of work to fulfill now.

He took me to the conference center and got out of the car – he gently shook my hand and looked me in the eye saying, “Take care, Miss Rayanne. I’m sorry this happened to you.”  Then he placed my luggage on the curb, looked me in the eye one more time and smiled with a nod. And with that, Harold restored my faith in mankind. He eased me back into my world. He, this man – a stranger – relit that light.

The Police Report

The day dragged with conference attendance lighter than expected. Once my colleague and I repacked all our gear and I was able to get the shipping of all our equipment secured, my friend Jackie picked me up out front. I had been given the run around over the phone from two different police departments, no one wanted to handle this. I was finally told that I should go to a local Starbucks and call 911 from there and an officer would meet me to take my report. We selected a shop right by the scene of the crime and waited for over an hour – with my flight time closing in, this inaction didn’t seem like the right course, so we bee-lined for police headquarters in downtown Dallas.

Jackie and I stormed the building ready to take on whoever got in our way. Stopped by what seemed a makeshift TSA checkpoint, two female officers were reticent to even let us in, let alone file a report. I think it became very clear that I wasn’t going anywhere until I filed a report. I said, once again – “What if this had been you or your daughter?” They let us through and I was getting ready to tell my story when I heard the sergeant say, looking down at us from behind the counter, “Unless you’ve had a lab test, there is nothing we can do.” I countered that I would be getting a lab test when I left the station – then came these words,

“Well, you weren’t raped, were you?”

I was stunned and nearly speechless. Nearly. Then I said, “So because I wasn’t raped, no crime was committed? The victim has no voice? What am I supposed to do? What do I tell my daughters?” Jackie started talking too and I think, at this point, the sergeant relented to shut us up.

What if this had been your wife, your mother, your daughter, your sister?

I wanted to scream. I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. My hands were shaking as I shared my story with a female officer who took notes and promised a detective would follow up with me. We left the station with little time to spare and a need to find a healthcare facility where I could give a urine sample.

The battle to get the right test ensued. We found a local urgent care center which couldn’t help us, not having access to a lab or the right kind of test. A nurse who heard my story and was compelled to help, made some calls and found a lab that could do the necessary test.

We called ahead, the lab assistant was ready to close for the evening. I told my story again and she stated she would stay until we arrived and take a urine sample to be submitted for a couple different tests – checking for Rohypnol and GHB. I was able to leave the sample and also had an immediate result test done that was inconclusive. The other two samples were sent off with results to be returned 3-5 days later. And I paid the $150 for the tests.

But the results were negative…

I was told that I should have had the lab tests done within the first 6 hours for the most accurate results. The disorientation and sickness caused by the drug kept me from thinking clearly in those first 12 hours. The shame and continuing sickness, as well as the need to work, kept me from going to the hospital or calling the police once I ascertained what had happened to me.

I wish I HAD called the police immediately. I just don’t how I could have done anything differently than I did. I met with my physician as soon as I returned home and asked how I might be able to follow-up with a hair follicle test 3 weeks following the incident. I had been told that the drug(s) might show up then. With four follow-up calls asking for a lab referral, I gave up.

I haven’t heard from the detective who was supposed to have called me back, though I have left two messages. Without a positive lab result, however, there is not much the police can do. It is my word against a restaurant employee of eight years.

Does it end here?

It could. It could end here with me just forgetting about it. But I cannot. I will not.

I wasn’t drunk. I didn’t have a hangover. I still suffer from the lingering effects of a drug that someone decided to give me. I was drugged by a restaurant employee I trusted who tried to drag me into the bathroom. His timing was off by about 30 seconds. I was lucky. I was lucky that I was still coherent; that I listened to my internal danger signal and my impulse to leave immediately.

But there are those who have not been lucky. And there are those who might not be lucky this weekend or next. So I bring this warning.

DO NOT ACCEPT A SHOT from a STRANGER. Any time. Any where. Ever.
DO NOT leave your drink or turn your back on it. Ever. And if you do, throw it out or get a new one. 

I never will again. I want the shame on the victim of this crime to be gone. There should be NO SHAME on the victim. We live in a world where we have to trust strangers. Uber drivers. Grocery store clerks. Restaurant servers. Baristas. Mailmen. Police Officers.

This was not my fault. I didn’t ask for it and I didn’t deserve it.

No one does. Ever. 

I’m not done telling this story.

I will not be quiet.