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Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?


FearIt’ was a bit after 8:30 in the morning. His lordship and I rode to work together every day. I’d drop him off at 8:00 and head to my office early. Straight out of college, I was the office manager for the RCA Warranty Division branch in our town. We opened at 9:00 but I liked getting there early, it gave me a jump start on my day. The four television/phone system techs and the branch manager were always there by 9:00.

It was a hot July day. The cooling system was already struggling to keep up with the heat. Eight months pregnant, the summer was taking a toll on me. I’d just settled at my desk to start routing the techs for the day when the door opened and three big guys barged in. I loved our customers and normally would have thought nothing of it except that the week before there had been a terribly gruesome murder in one of the stores downtown and they were still looking for the men who had done it.

I’m the anxious sort anyway, and that was the first thing that popped into my mind. Suddenly I was terrified and all I could think about was the baby. We’d tried for six years to start a family and were over the moon about this pregnancy. Now here I was, just me and three rough-looking guys, and I already had myself and the baby dead and dragged into the back. And for what? $50 in my cash box…  It really was all I could do to breathe. I nearly dropped my son right then and there.

Finally one of them spoke up and asked if I knew what time the State Rehab office next door opened. They’d come to get their monthly checks. Lordy, what an effort it was to try and act normal. I’m pretty sure my voice was shakin’ like crazy, but I told them the office opened at 9:00. They thanked me and promptly left. And I just as promptly locked the door, something I never bothered to do when I’d get to work early.

Next thing I did was call HL. Though relieved, I was starting to hyperventilate. Through my ragged breathing I managed to tell him what had happened. He could hear I was having some difficulty. So he did something surprising. He said, “Contraction begins!” And without thinking I started breathing the way we were learning in our Lamaze class. It didn’t take me long to settle down, and within a few minutes two of the techs had showed up. To this day I am convinced that I would have gone into labor had it not been for HL’s quick thinking about the breathing.

I never went into the office early without locking the door after that. In fact, I developed a phobia. In the middle of the night I’d sit up and think, “I didn’t lock the back door and set the alarm at work.” Can’t count how many times HL dragged himself out of bed to drive me the ten miles into town to make sure I had. And in all those times, never once did I find that door unlocked.

That experience left a scar on my soul or spirit or whatever you want to call it. And when our son was five or six years old he began having nightmares. I often wondered in those days if the fear I felt for that three minutes could have affected the baby in some way. Guess I’ll never know.