An interesting confluence presented itself to me recently. I was reading about how difficult it can be to overcome a bad first impression, which we all know to be true. And then something happened in an online forum to remind me how difficult it is to overcome a bad “zeroth” impression. That is, what can you do if someone (perhaps well-intentioned) says something about you that others take to be negative or untrue? Try as you might, some of the metaphorical mud splatters on you.

I am not going to discuss the online mess I witnessed because, first, I only caught the end of the conversation and don’t know all the details; second, the person involved has already put up with enough; and third, it’s none of my business—nor yours, either. Instead I want to tell you about how something similar almost happened to me.

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Answering “What If?”

Unanswered questions are scary. That’s what I scrawled in my blog notebook back in October after I gave a Ready New York presentation in Brooklyn, not far from where a tornado had touched down a few days earlier. Tornadoes are rare in this part of the country, but every couple of years we have a small one. Or, in this case, two—one in Brooklyn and another in Queens.

EncouragementSomeone at the presentation had said she knew emergency preparedness is important, but thinking about possible emergencies scared her. I can’t help but agree. Sometimes watching the news is scary, but I believe that the only way to take the fear out of “What if?” is to answer it-and then do whatever is necessary to be ready if “What if?” happens.

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My Proudest Moment

In case you didn’t know, March is American Red Cross Month, as it has been every year since 1943.

On March 1 the Cape Fear Chapter tweeted an intriguing question: “What is your favorite experience with the Red Cross?” After almost nine and a half years, it’s difficult to think about a favorite experience. Perhaps handing out hot chocolate at the Brooklyn Bridge on the last day of the 2005 New York City transit strike. We’d just heard that the strike was over and transit would be running again the next morning, so it took on a party atmosphere. It was cold that evening, but the hot chocolate and the end of the strike made it better. Then a young woman came down the ramp from the Bridge, cell phone clasped to her ear, and squealed into the phone, “It’s the Red Cross… and they have hot chocolate!!!” (We don’t always get such immediate gratification on the larger disasters.)

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