Google Earth and my unlucky friend

By Gerre Joiner | Published Saturday, June 28, 2014

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What a day at the coffee shop. I learned a lot.

  • I learned the general technologies and tricks associated with drilling an oil well … or a gas well … straight down for a ways and then “slanting” the hole. I’ve often wondered how it was done but never thought to ask someone who knew. Thanks, Truitt, for details on “directional drilling.” Fascinating.
  • I checked with Arvel Hubbard to see if he wanted me to order the running boards for his vehicle. He’s still thinking. Amazon is a great way to buy stuff like that and save a buck or two.
  • Jim Bradshaw told a story that needed some collaboration. Collaboration comes at the coffee shop when someone begins a story, gets to a point at which an important detail fails to float to the top in the mind of the “teller.”
Gerre Joiner

Gerre Joiner

There is generally a pause as the teller combs through his mind for the detail. During one of the pauses in Jim’s story, retired firefighter Ken Jones broke Jim’s silence (collaborating) with a bit of fiction just to see if anyone would believe it.

I have known Ken just long enough to notice that his left eyebrow twitches a little when he’s about to make something up. It did … twitch.

Then we traveled the world by way of Google Earth. I had my little ipad mini and showed the coffee sippers satellite pictures of the following places:

  • One of the fire stations in Fort Worth where James Stutt reported for duty.
  • The fire station in Haltom City where Ken Jones worked.
  • Bald Knob Cemetery
  • Greenwood, Texas
  • The Joiner family farm in Lorenzo, Texas
  • The Grand Canyon
  • The Eiffel Tower
  • Truitt Hodges’ house and improvements

Then Gary Howard came in. He was using a crutch. As Gary bought his coffee and prepared to sit down with us, I remembered the years-ago story regarding Gary, an air compressor on the back of his truck and an explosion (the air tank) that blew out windows in several places of business around the Square, including some in the courthouse.

I guess it was the crutch that prompted me to think about Gary’s recent accidents:

  • Back during the winter, he fell on the ice and damaged his shoulder. He went through pretty extensive surgery to repair the damage.
  • A few months ago, maybe a bit before he had completely recovered from the shoulder surgery, my accident-prone friend was cutting a tree down in his backyard. It fell on him. The shoulder deal was small potatoes compared to the damage done by the tree.

When Gary sat down, we were still focused on Google Earth. I said, “Gary, tell me your address. I’ll show you a satellite picture of your house.”

He couldn’t exactly remember the address. His phone rang. He talked to his wife for a moment, was preparing to end the conversation, then he asked her, “What is our house number?”

I did the Google Earth search, found the house and turned the computer screen Gary’s way. I knew he couldn’t see it without his “cheater” glasses, so I gave him mine.

While he was looking at the picture, someone in the group said, “I wonder how often they update those satellite photos.”

Then Gary said, “Look at this! That’s a picture of me in the backyard with that tree on top of me!”

Just so you know, I made up some of this story. Wish you could see my left eyebrow right now.

Gerre Joiner is a semi-retired church musician and has lived in Decatur since 1999.

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