Sheryl Stapp

Yikes … It’s Hurricane Ike!

Yikes … It’s Hurricane Ike!

By Monette Benoit

Copyright by Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.

Galveston’s history has a personal interest. In 1900 my maternal grandmother’s family walked 500 miles from Gilmer, Texas, to Corpus Christi, Texas, with livestock, farm equipment and four covered wagons.

My grandmother’s father, Adolphus D. Floyd, twice a 7th Regiment Texas Infantry Civil War Prisoner of War, POW, struck oil in Gilmer. Post-war, he studied “the best soil in Texas to grow cotton.” Then Adolphus saved $99.00 for the family relocation. After their move to Corpus Christi, my family planned a large Galveston family reunion.

September 8, 1900 a Category 4 hurricane hit Galveston, Texas. An entire “branch” of my grandmother’s family was swept off a hotel roof. Reports estimate 6,000 men, women and children perished.

Had the hurricane struck two days later, my grandmother, Monette Rae Floyd, her father, mother Marjorie Howard Floyd, nine siblings and four “extras” (as they were called), white and black children, would have been in Galveston for their family reunion.

Monette Floyd was a four-year old piano prodigy. Later, she became the first music teacher in Corpus volunteering her time in the schools. Later, she had her own orchestra. Later, she worked as a Corpus court stenographer. Siblings and “extras” not in Galveston that day in 1900, later built a life knowing ‘what might have been’.

I grew up listening to detailed history of Galveston, Texas coastal storms and the phrase, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Sheryl Stapp, CSR, RPR earned her certifications in 1998. She has worked as adjunct professor, Del Mar College, and as an official in Corpus and Sinton, Texas. Currently, Sheryl lives in Houston working as a freelance deputy official. I asked Sheryl to share her story.

September 11, 2008, weathermen asked, “Where will Ike land?” Corpus Christi, my hometown, was targeted. I’ve been in Houston since 2003; I return every few months. My best friend, Diane, whom I met in seventh grade, lives there. I’ve been playing bunco with girlfriends, true treasures, since 1995.

I called Corpus friends, “Come to Houston. Run like a rabbit,” as I was raised to do if a hurricane headed your way! Soon they phoned, “Get out of Houston. Come home!” We were not in mandatory evacuation; we stayed put.

On Friday, September 12, 2008: My parents, roommates, Fletcher and Elaine, were nervous. Near 10:30 a.m. precious Mama had “that funny feeling.” I gave her Advil and tucked her in. Daddy and I put plywood over the patio doors. Soon I heard, “I can’t breathe.” I called 911 praying, “Please, Lord, not yet.” The ambulance arrived in 15 minutes; paramedics put her on oxygen. Again I said, “You’ll be fine, Mama. I’m following right behind.”

The hospital was preparing for lockdown during Hurricane Ike. The emergency room staff worked with ice chests, blankets, sleeping bags and radios. Three crews were staying through Monday.

Mom was intubated and sedated. I headed to the chapel. Then came the really hard part – leaving. Lockdown meant only emergency vehicles in or out. Daddy left his “child bride” (they married in 1955 at 22 and 23 years of age). Talk about tough.

We returned home. Meteorologists had Hurricane Ike down to a science. Ike would blow in 10:00 p.m. and depart the Magnolia City early morning. Rain and wind pounded all night.

I arose at 8:00 a.m. There was no wind, rain or flooding, and there was no phone, TV or Internet. Dad and I walked the house. No broken windows, shingles. We had been spared.

True Texans, neighbors, barbecued freezer meats, and it was the Saturday Night Live Happy Hurricane Party! We had flashlights inside and lanterns outside; ice chests held beer and sodas.

Battery-operated radios shocked us with Galveston’s devastation only an hour away. Pictures in the Houston Chronicle were unfathomable: A Category 2 landfall annihilated that historical coastal town.

Initially, one generator powered four houses. We needed the generator for Dad’s continuous positive airway pressure (C-Pap) machine, so we made the purchase. I’m a city girl. There I was with my 76-year old father, 100-degree heat, reading the manual to assemble this generator! Later, I felt I could do this! We wheeled the generator onto the porch. I realized, again, how little I knew. That generator was loud! It sounded like an 18-wheeler!

I was thankful because that noise ensured I’d hear Dad’s C-Pap machine. I’d listen and think, “Thank you, Lord. Daddy’s lungs need it.”

I thought I’d lose weight since I couldn’t cook, right? Wrong! Everyone asked, “Do you have food? Need something to eat?” One Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Point of Distribution (POD) volunteer went house to house, gifting Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) water, cookies and non-perishables!

It was humbling to walk into the courthouse with wet hair (no hairdryer), wrinkled slacks and shirts (no iron), no make-up (you cannot apply makeup by flashlight)! I was not alone. We all laughed, “This is not a problem. We are so fortunate.”

One lady shared she worked with a Galveston court reporter who had e-mailed everything to her scopist. Even when natural disasters strike, court reporters get the job done! Our technology has come so far and it continues to keep us on our game, on the cutting edge.

My friend, Monette Benoit, called. She caught me at the library checking e-mail – after waiting an hour! Once assured that Mom, Dad and I were okay, she shared her view of captioning Hurricane Ike from a local, national vantage point. Monette always reminds me what we do is unique, an in-demand skill. It’s life-affirming to know court reporters and broadcast captioners are helping deaf and HOH every day. My mantra during our conversation: “I love court reporting!”

Daily, we called the intensive care unit, ICU, to check on mom; she was improving. Mom’s our glue; she raised five children in the 1970s on a schoolteacher and construction materials salesman’s salaries.

On Monday, Mom thought it was Friday! She’d been sedated for four days. While Houston was without water, TV, air conditioning, she had comforts. Hospital staff was good to Dad. He’d get a hot meal each time Mom did; they filled his ice chest before he departed the hospital.

Mom came home two weeks later; we still had no power. The respiratory company brought the oxygen machine. At 4 a.m. on Saturday, our generator ran out of gas. I’ll never forget going to check it, flashlight in hand. Daddy, with C-Pap tube dangling from his headpiece, brought the gas cans. He looked like Snuffleupagus! I thought, “Lord, let us get this cranked up so Mom gets oxygen and her Texas-sized heart can keep on ticking!!” After a few stops/starts it was fine. Twenty-four hours after Mom’s return home, here come trucks down our street.

A light switch that turns on one lamp becomes a treasure.

My personal Hurricane Ike experience was humbling: Stress riding it out, leaving Mom, watching Dad feeling lost and anxious without her. After Ike arrived and left, it was the daily hassles of draining and refilling ice chests, visiting the ICU in staggered hours, sitting in lines at the gas stations, filling generator tanks and having no air conditioning (just plain brutal!). I always said, “I can’t complain. We were fortunate. Mom was in the best place she could be; our home is intact; friends and family are safe.”

Galveston’s stories put everything in perspective. I was reminded of Daddy saying, “I complained because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” I’m so grateful, realizing how blessed I am.

You boost my self-esteem, Monette. I tell my little Ike story and think, “Who cares?” You hear my Ike story and think, “Great story! Let’s share.”

I’ve not mentioned this article to my parents because it’s about them, not me. I’m going to frame it and gift it as a Valentine gift to Fletcher Robinson Stapp and Elaine Hansen Stapp.

Monette: Yes, indeed. “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Sheryl may be reached at ssdepo@aol.com.

28 Jan 2009

1-800-CALL-GOD-NOW

1-800-CALL-GOD-NOW

By Monette Benoit

Copyright by Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.

Sheryl E. Stapp, RPR, CSR, CART provider is multi-talented, a dear friend. I profiled her in a prior article ‘Love, Signs, God and Numerology’ available on my web site, www.CRRbooks.com which prepares students and court reporters for NCRA and state written knowledge tests, expanding their skills. Sheryl and I continue to receive comments about the article – since 1998.

Sheryl’s wonderful attitude and approach to events is admirable and sometimes, folks, I continue to share with her that she “just cracks me up.” She has moments and events in her life where she chooses to look ‘up’ in her world, and this makes a difference in her world and to those who are blessed to share with Sheryl Stapp, RPR, CSR.

This day started out as a usual CART, communication access realtime technology, request to All American RealTime/Captioning Services, Inc., www.ARTCS.com.

Request: Go, do it, drive home. Not technical, not unusual — a request that many of us look forward to receiving. I scheduled Sheryl for this CART request.

When Sheryl phoned later that a.m., I listened and thanked my lucky stars that she is ‘in’ my world. Here’s Sheryl’s story:

THE PLAN: Up at 4:00 a.m.; gone by 5:00. One and one-half hours to CART job, arrive at 7:00 for 8:00 job.

REALITY: Up at 4:00; gone by 5:30. Heading out the door, I tell myself, “Make the call!” “Good morning, Lord. Please get me there safely on time.”

Major construction on interstate. Immediately I get over for my exit, I’m ready to merge. A little car zooms by. Heart rate accelerates; automobile decelerates! I noticed major crunch in bumper; he’s done this before! “Lord, keep the nerves in check, please!”

I have to pass my exit – it’s under construction — and remain on highway. No problem; I’ll take next exit, U-turn back. Wrong! Immediately, there’s a traffic standstill. What’s up with this? It’s 5:45 in the morning! Radio announces, “Major accident” at my exit.

And there we have it … My exit, easy U-turn, easy merge onto interstate …not anymore!

“Lord, this is three ‘bumps in the road’ already — late leaving house, missed exit, crawling in traffic and I’m not outside city limits. I know you’re testing me. I’m going to pass this test, you’ll see! Stay with me, Lord.”

Thirty minutes later, I can exit! Now I can make up time. I’m doing 80 mph on the interstate for 15 minutes when I see a patrol car on the highway, ahead of me. I hit brakes, look at speedometer. I’m doing 70 when I’m parallel with him. Whew! Besides, they can’t clock you on radar unless you’re heading towards them, right? Wrong!

I look in rearview mirror; here he comes!! I get into exit lane; there go ‘whirly-birdy’ lights. “Okay, Lord, bring it on!!” I’m thinking: not a ticket, not an insurance increase, not an out-of-county hassle, not today, not now! I decide I’ll take the ticket, send in fine, and keep all hassles to a minimum.

Officer asks if there’s a problem or emergency.

“Well, yes to both, but maybe not technically.” I explain about the bad wreck in city, concerned about timely arrival to job. I share topic, location.

“And you’re an attendee?” he asks.

“No, sir. I’m a court reporter; I’ll be assisting a hard-of-hearing attendee.”

“Oh, I see. License, please.”

Darn, just when I was thinking ‘court reporter’ title would get me by! It’s worked before! One officer told me once, “We’re all in this together, aren’t we? I’ve been a witness more often than I care to remember.

Then officer asks: “How do you work that little machine?”

Great, now he wants to chat about infamous little machine! H-e-l-l-o … I told him I was late!!

Minutes later, officer hands me a warning. “You are listening to me, Lord!”

Officer then explains I was speeding in a 65 mph zone.

“My misunderstanding; I thought interstates were 70. I’ll keep it at 65.”

He wants to chat, explaining how speed limits were lowered to 55 a few years back because of EPA regulations.

Officer asks, “Did you know you couldn’t do 55 until you were out of the county until a year ago?”

“Nope, didn’t know.” Gotta get to work, kind sir!!

Then he asks for my directions. I show him mapquest printout on dashboard. He wants to see them.

Officer shares, “The building is new. Mapquest usually has old directions.”

I do not share that I printed directions yesterday. Nod, listen, nod, smile. “Yes, sir.”

Ironic, huh? I’m running late, get stopped! Cruel twist of fate, officer was handsome!! Blond hair, blue eyes, deep voice!

If I wasn’t in hurry to get to CART job, I would’ve chatted with him, for days!! After I say good-bye, my thank you for ‘warning’ and no ticket, and merge back onto freeway, I’m hearing my personal theme song in my head, “Someday my prince will come!” But not today.

Get to building, 25 minutes to set up. Plenty of time. “Thank you, my upstairs neighbor, good Lord above!”

I explain that I’m a court reporter, here to provide CART at 8:00 a.m.

Registrations representative looks at brochure, sends me to first room on list. I set up, do quick check, good to go; ten minutes to spare. All is right within my world.

Since I’d worked with client before; I knew who to look for, and boy was I looking!

The seminar started promptly, but no client. I wrote as if he were there, so he’d have file to refer to later. Surely, he was just running late from same traffic. Still 15 minutes into seminar, no client. I try to exit room, continue search. Not happening. They were packed like sardines, chairs everywhere; I was stuck!

We broke 15 minutes early, I dashed to registration, asked where client was!

The woman walks across hall, returns ten minutes later, says, “He’s in that room.”

Bingo!! Why couldn’t they have gotten it right at 7:35?

I go into the room; there’s my consumer, listening as intently as possible; this seminar hadn’t broken early. I explain I was sent to wrong room, “I’m so sorry.”

He smiled, “It’s okay. Not your fault. I’m glad you’re here.”

Ever had an attorney say that to you? No way! CART work…what a treat.

After shutting down, relocating, setting up again, testing all is A-OK, I go outside to call Monette Benoit with update: “I’m here, good to go, but…GET THIS …”

After answering Monette’s “boss-service-provider to consumer” questions and business details, then I begin the traffic ‘patrol’ story. We both laugh till we’re about in tears!! Per her instructions, I immediately jot down notes about my “ordeal” for a future JCR article. “It’s a must have; we must share this one!” Monette said.

The rest of the day was as smooth as silk. I learned about current events, to include ‘in the event’ of hurricanes.

Many people require special assistance in any emergency situation: nursing home residents, hospital patients, homeless, prisoners, state school residents. And there’s pets — a major discussion. Gotta keep Fido, Fluffy safe, too!! In Texas there’s talk about horses, livestock.

Our consumer had his full attention on my screen. He was appreciative of my services and being able to help was a personal blessing to me, as it always is.

As I packed to leave, I had to ask for God’s ear yet again.

“Thank you for a great day, albeit a challenging start! Thank you for my skills. I’ve got plenty of gas in the tank and am in NO rush to get home, so you’re officially off the hook for now, Lord! I’ll check in when I get home and will use speed-control this time. I promise, Sheryl E. Stapp here.”

Monette: So you may ask me why did we name this article: 1-800-CALL-GOD-NOW?

Did you notice that the phone listing has additional numbers for a long distance call? Well, as we figure it, a direct call to God is out-of-this-world. Sheryl Stapp may be reached at ssdepo@aol.com.

Monette, the Court Reporting Whisperer, may be reached: Monette@ARTCS.com and Monette@CRRbooks.com

Monette Benoit, B. B.A., CCR, CRI, CPE, Paralegal

Tutor, Motivational Management & Career Coach,
Multiple-Title Author of Books & Test Prep for the Court Reporting and CART Captioning Industry
Realtime Court Reporter, Instructor, Consultant, Columnist

Court Reporter Reference Books & CDs: www.CRRbooks.com
Blog: Monette’s Musings, www.monettebenoit.com

* Educational/Career Advancement; Private Tutoring/Customized Coaching

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Tutoring and career coaching topics include:
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• Professionals who want to achieve their goals, create new possibilities, advance their career, author their book, and to develop the dream within,
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• Veteran court reporters, CART Captioners expanding their career options in related fields,
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• Students or veterans who have begun to question their career or whether they’re on the “right track” …

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Where do you want to go? ** What have you ‘really’ wanted to do with your career, and ultimately, your life?

* No two are alike. Specific custom-designed guidance efficiently assists you!

About Monette Benoit:
As a 25+ year court reporter, CART Captioner, author of NCRA test prep material, and an instructor, public speaker, Monette Benoit has taught multiple theories, academics, all speed classes, and the 225 homeroom within NCRA-approved schools and a community college. She understands the challenges many adults now face in our industry and schooling.

Monette Benoit has worked with thousands of professionals, court reporters, CART Captioners, students, and instructors.

She has also helped to create new court reporting training programs, worked with federal grants, and assisted instructors in developing curriculum for both in-class and at-home students.

Her one-on-one tutoring, private coaching, has greatly assisted thousands of students, novice and experienced professionals to privately reach the next level.

Monette’s Musings is a blog containing information for busy professionals, students, and individuals who are fearless and seek to create their success each day. Reach up. Bring it. Bring it. * Bring it today!

30 Dec 2008