Sunday, April 11, 2010

Regarding Helium Balloons

First, let me be very clear that I really don't care for helium-filled balloons as party decorations. I don't mean to be a party pooper, but I think there must be better uses for our resources than use-once-and-throw-away rubber sacks, and the steel tanks used to fill them. I especially don't like to see them used outdoors (such as the current ubiquitous attention-getters flying at all the local car dealers just down the hill from me - invariably, some do escape), and absolutely HATE when they're "set free" to signal celebration.

I finally, just this past year, got my Soroptimist Club to stop doing a pink balloon release as part of our big mammogram fundraising golf tournament. Flying balloons do not just float away and disappear - eventually, they break or just lose their buoyancy, return to earth somewhere, and become either litter or endanger the health of birds or other wildlife. Ok, I'll put away my soapbox for now, and proceed to the random observations part of this post.

Each week, I volunteer for a couple of hours, doing computer stuff, for the local Democratic Party Headquarters. When I went in on Friday, they had bunches of balloons in there that had been used as decorations for a fundraising dinner earlier in the week. At least, instead of just throwing them away, they'd been brought back to be re-used for a Fashion Show the Women's Club is doing next weekend. Since I would be going to the Women's Club meeting on Saturday, the Office Manager asked if I'd mind taking the balloons home on Friday, and then delivering them to the Fashion Show committee on Saturday.

Have you ever driven with helium balloons inside your vehicle? These were clumped together into three bunches, held down by ribbons tied to sand-filled sacks. So I wasn't worried about them getting away. But just getting them all stuffed into the back seat was quite an endeavor. And then, being lighter than air, they don't move like everything else does. You know, when you start a vehicle moving forward, it pushes you back in your seat? Balloons float forward. When you go around a corner, how centrifugal force makes things slide towards the far side of the corner? Helium balloons float towards the inside-corner side of the car. Eerie.

When I got home, not knowing how below-freezing temperatures would affect the balloons if left in my car overnight, I brought the bunches inside, putting them on my dining room table until the next day. They terrified the cat. As soon as we start up the wood stove, he's usually stretched out in front of it the rest of the evening. Late that night, noticing there was no cat to trip over, I went looking for him. I found him crouching in the bathroom. Carrying him into the living room, he about tore my shoulder apart as soon as we got within sight of the balloons floating over on the other side of the room. I ended up moving the balloons into a corner of the guest room. The cat crouched and slunk around the rest of the night, and again the next morning, looking for those balloons but not really wanting to find them. I know all of us were glad to get rid of them the next day.


Ryan said...

I hate them too.

I had jaw surgery years ago and so many well meaning people sent balloons and they floated back and forth and in my highly drugged recovery state I hated them floating in my view. Then on the drive home they bumped my head… oh that felt good.

My 5 year old daughter knows well my disdain for balloons. She hides them from me until she wants to see the most interesting ways I make them pop.

Kichler said...

Great Blog!

Julie said...

I hate them for a few reasons...first, my brother is deathly allergic to gut response to those death traps is to "panic and get Jim out", even if he's not with me (did it a work once and laughed about my first instinct). Second, have you ever had one pop and hit you in the eye. It is probably one of the worst pains I've ever had. Beyond those two reasons, I've just never liked them.

Sadge said...

Your comment about popping balloons, Julie, reminded me about a time when Marketing in the Casino thought tying balloons around the gaming pits would make a great "fun - party time" atmosphere. The Pit Bosses made them take them all out again. People walking by would pop them with a lit cigarette, and all the dealers, thinking it was gunshots, kept dropping to the floor behind their tables.