READ AND REACT (An Index Card Novel)
The OODA Loop (for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act) is a concept. A tactical-level example can be found on the basketball court, where a player takes possession of the ball and must get past an opponent who is taller or faster. A straight dribble or pass is unlikely to succeed. Instead the player may engage in a rapid and elaborate series of body movements designed to befuddle the opponent and deny him the ability to take advantage of his superior size or speed.
It was the first day of the Sixth Grade Girls Basketball “tryouts”. (Tryout was a misnomer because everyone who “tried” would make the team.) She was a tall gawky scared girl. She had her designer jeans. (Her Mom wanted her to catch a man later in life and was raising a lady.) All the girls went to the try out to get out of class. Anything was better than being in prison. An old lady was the coach. Rumor had it that she was a semi-pro before “girls basket ball” hit its prime. She was aided by two old men.
The girl wandered out on the court. It was warm ups. She took a ball and walked to the basket. Wondering what she should do now. Silently, and a little scary, one of the old men was behind her. “You could be a great post player.” Huh? She replied: “I could? I don’t know anything?” The old man smiled: “We can teach you facts, drills, and stuff. But, practice is up to you.” “OK” “Let’s do something simple. Put down the purse. Put one foot on each side of this corner here. It’s called the top of the key. Pivot right and shoot. Next pivot left and shoot. Do each these a thousand times and it becomes yours. In a game, you won’t even think about it. Make half of those shots and you’ll be a great player. Hit them all you’ll be a pro. But remember it’s about having fun. You’ll learn to read and react.” It didn’t sound hard. BUT, (there is always a big butt), she objected: “I don’t have the clothes. And, what will the boys think?” “First, you have to want to do something; then you’ll find a way. Second, who cares what others think; you have to sail your own ship on your own course.”
“Ladies, today is your first time on the ‘confidence course’. Why do we call it that? Because today you will develop a self-confidence that you will always be able to handle any challenge that life hands you. And, it will challenge you. Run away and you’ll be running away for ever. Go over the top and new horizons will be in front of you.”
She was tired. Bone tired. To complete the exercise, she had to make a shot. Silly as it sounds, there was always a challenge. She reached back into her mental closet, put both feet on the top of the key and sighted. The instructor, a fat old man from a long ago war, said: “Good. Excellent stand. Shooting is like basketball. You have to read and react. Now clear your weapon and move out.”
It was hand to hand fighting in the dessert. Wasn’t supposed to be like that. Women were in the “rear”. But these days, there was no “rear”. And, the enemy must not have got the memo. She was always reading and reacting. Assume nothing. Ever. Assumptions kill. The fellow grabed her like an awkward rapist. She relaxed. He relaxed. Wrong move on his part. She pulled his leg out. They went to the ground. Her on top. She got her elbows out. Just like playing the post. And landed her elbow in his solar plexus. He was not good for much after that. But he only had a minute’s discomfort before she put him out of his misery.
She was out for the family run. Hubbie up in front. Her two boys trying to catch him. Her two girls trying not to embarass their brothers. Periodically, she run up and tell them to tell their Dad he was slowing down. They easily loped up, told him , and fell back. She was getting older. She could feel her time getting slower. But she was determined to wear out; not rust out. The coast country was beautiful. She thought back to all the men and women who helped her get to this point.
Then it struck. A big cat grabbed her husband’s head. In a flash, he was down. The children were screaming. She was calm. She set her feet at the top of the key and went for the shot. It was technically not a hard shot. Ten or twelve feet. The cat was intent on dragging its prey away; it presented a nice target. Emotionally, it was much harder. It was her husband. She needed him. It was only a 380. A ‘girlie gun'; the dealer called it. “I’m just a weak little girl”, she told him. He saw an Amazon and laughed.
To be sure, she may have been a little excited. She put two three shot groups into the cat. First group was the size of a Number 10 Can. Second was an inch and a half across. Old lessons come back quickly. Her fanny pack coughed up a kit. She was never without what she called her friend Bob. Husband had some bad deep wounds. She gather the children to him and stood guard. While treating him! Torn scalp. The blur of events began to slow down. She was telling the 911 operator on her cell phone the coordinates on her GPS. She reloaded her weapon quickly. What if the cat had a mate?
The ranger said the cat was a “nuisance”. The cop took her gun for testing. She was cited for an unlicensed firearm, killing an “endangered species”, and “noise pollution”. After they medivaced her husband out. EMTs confirmed it was more a precaution. She insisted the cop walk with them back to their car. She took quiet glee at how much he sweated, turned red with the little exercise, and was embarrased at his shape.
Getting in the car, her youngest asked her: “Momma, where did you learn that? Weren’t you afraid?” She smiled. “Various places, my child, and yes, I was terrified. But you learn to read and react to life’s challenges.”
She thought: “Read and react.” She looked around the parking lot. 360 degrees. “Seat belts! Two!”, she cried out. “Three, four, five, six”, came from the back. “OK, let’s go check on Number One!”.
Read and react!
She added “getting another 380 to her list for after the hospital. Til then she have to be satisfied with her knife and her hands.
Read and react.
She pulled out of the parking lot with a slight smile.