Monday, July 20, 2009


15 or so years ago, when I first moved to a Big American City, the sound of helicopters overhead was very disconcerting. You see, where I grew up, in tinytown north Alabama, a helicopter hovering over your town meant only one thing -- ECAPED CONVICT!!

In Intown Atlanta, the helicopters were more benign. The greatest possibility was traffic jam, followed by major sporting event. Only later, when I moved to an up-and-coming neighborhood, did the police come back into to the picture, only this time, they were looking for a suspect, not a convict.

These days, in our summer home in rural Tennessee, helicopters mean something altogether different, and troubling. I have long had difficulty with the wail of an ambulance siren -- as I tell the kids, an ambulance whizzing by means 'somebody's hurt, and somebody's scared.' The whirlybirds touching down in our town mean the same thing. It's awesome (as in, inspiring awe) too see those huge metal insects hovering, and lowering themselves to the helipad. The windstorm they create is unbelievable. But it's always in front of the hospital, and it's only ever to take somebody away to a bigger hospital many miles away. Somebody's hurt, and somebody's scared.

Amazing how context matters, isn't it? It makes all the difference in the world.

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