Thursday, February 28, 2013

Paper, Plastic, and Pet Peeves

Just when I thought my day was going to be great, I had an encounter with plastic. Now....this is not an act of crime, an incident involving national security or world hunger, but still. It sure stole my Karma for the day.

I battled shrink wrap.

I hate that stuff. You know.... sealed plastic which encases a product so it is all nice and pretty and begs, "Buy me!" at the store. My tools of entry consisted of: scissors, a screw driver, and a paring knife. We won't discuss the state of my now forever-damaged fingernails. I don't probably heard my colorful language and saw the dogs retreat out the back door. Still wondering why my sweet neighbor didn't call the police thinking I was fighting off an attacker. I was wicked angry. I super promise: if I ever become President of the United States, I will veto any product that comes in shrink wrap. Now....there's an issue for China. Just slide that junk I buy in a nice ziplock bag, thank you very much. Otherwise, it will sit on your docks and rot. Told you I was mad.

Why does life have to be so hard?

To add to my furor, I had to shop for that stinkin' shrink wrapped stuff and place it in a possessed shopping cart. Now...if you have read my book, you know that story, 'The Shopping Cart War' can be just that: a war. You know...the cart that locks up, squeals, and takes an amateur body builder to turn it into the check-out aisle.
A cart that strips you of all intelligence and reason and makes you want to beat it with your stellar 'Thirty-One' bag for, oh, thirty-one minutes or so. Expect a crowd; some will be watching in horror--others will be cheering you on. They know.


Before you think I have just lost it, let me throw out another tool of insanity: tape dispensers. I have it under great certainty that there are torture chambers in which folks must try to find the end of tape. And then, try to lead off with a piece that doesn't rip off into tiny ribbons of crap. I am telling you now....I can hurl a roll of unruly Scotch tape, well, clear to Scotland. Now I know why they invented--and consume--Scotch! Named after some roll of tape, I'll betcha! I must admit, my favorite ex-husband would methodically roll off the teeny tiny edge of tape---any kind---and fold it under so I did not have to belabor finding the end of the roll. Yeah, he had tamed that demon. But not before consuming lots of Scotch. Just saying.

Okay. I feel so much better now. I have placed my day's trials and tribulations at your feet for safe-keeping.

And if life ever comes gift-wrapped in paper or know which one I will pick. It may not save a tree, but at least I will have my good wits about me. And I won't have to wrap up my life story with some shrink. Am I funny or what??

Okay. No ex-husbands are allowed to answer that last one. You know what I can do with tape.

Oh my. Perhaps that last sentence needs revision. Guess I am in worse shape than I thought. Do you think it's time I dispense with this blog and cart myself off to the shrink?

Or maybe you could share your pet peeves with me and we could vent together...our own little therapy group.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Blogging From the Laundry Room of Life

Blogging is interesting, I am finding this out. I sit here writing to an unknown audience and dump my various thoughts, adventures, opinions, and mishaps into cyberspace. I do have tools and gadgets to track my page views, the type of connection folks are using, such as Facebook, 'Chrome', Safari, etc. So far, no one is using a tin can and string, or a device similar to what E.T. used to "phone home." My stats do reveal the various countries my page views are from, and I am baffled that 23 folks in China are seeing this blog. Are they reading it? Ummm, I can only hope. Now...that statistic of 'one' in the Ukraine, France, Germany----yeah that's like the guy who pulls into the wrong driveway. They are lost.

But still it is quite entertaining and rewarding to read the comments. Some are from former students, parents, co-workers, distant family members, and of course, from my sisters and my own children. I look so forward to comments, and to realize that in the lifetime of my blog, over 7,000 folks have looked over my shoulder to read what this soul has pondered. Who knew?

It is hard knowing what to write about that will appeal to YOU. I try to be chatty and a bit humorous, but a blog is a bit like doing laundry. Stay with me on this. I sort through my experiences and make piles that might interest my readers. Then, I attempt to write stories that are light--like the white load. But then, things go awry in life, and soon my words are revealing sadness, just like a dark load. And the way I see it, you may have quite enough darkness and sure don't need me to lead you into another foreboding laundry room. Perhaps, those are the blogs in which I hang you out to dry. I'm truly sorry. Don't I wish I could supply fabric softener to all of our lives so we come out soft and aromatic. I know that many days or evenings, you wish I could shrink some of my ramblings. The shorter the better. Sigh. I am short in all ways but that of conversation. But then, you know that.

Well, I am going to leave you now. Those folks in China need a break if they are really translating all of this drivel. And while this may be a blog in which you scratch your head and ask, "What in Heaven's name, was the point in all of that?" I can say with great confidence, and assurance: "I have no idea."

I promise the next blog will be dried, folded, and placed neatly in the basket or on hangers. But I will not put them in your dresser. I have no business in your drawers.

Better blogs are coming. I promise. Just in case that one guy from the Ukraine makes it to my blog, I want to leave him something profound and life changing. this one wasn't it.

Maybe next time. Ooh--gotta go! The buzzer just went off on the dryer.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Looking for a Stranger

Had to run some errands last night. Ended up at the 'D. Hall Mall'--which is my code name for Family Dollar. Anyway, it was dark and cold and I was preoccupied with the mental list of purchases that my brain was quickly forgetting. I can hear you now: "Why didn't you write it down?" Because. I. Forgot.

Anyway, as I exited my car I watched this younger guy push an empty bask-cart (or a 'buggy' if you live in the South) to the store's door. He was moving around somewhat aimlessly. As I got closer he walked towards me and said, "Hello. My name is Michael." Before he could even start his 'parking-lot-panhandling protocol' I emphatically said, "I do not give cash!" and kept my confidant stride towards the door. Told him!

What happened next was a bit disconcerting. This youth dropped his head and quietly muttered, "I wasn't going to ask you for money. I was going to ask you for directions." The look on his face was a map of 'lostness'. I called him back, eager to help him with directions. But his back was to me, his gait reflected hopelessness, and our parting exchange was him saying, "Never mind. That's okay."

I never give cash. Never. And I am approached almost weekly. Generally, as they come walking toward me, I say: "Don't even ask." That way, it saves me from saying no and them from hearing it. Even trade. My deal is this....if I think I can help another, and I'm being led to do so, then I approach them. It's my call. And God's. And don't ask me for money. If I can't control how a beggar is going to spend my spare change, then I am not sharing. Forget what I learned in kindergarten; charity comes with strings.

Well, I did my shopping, made another stop or two, and drove home. Can I just tell you that this stranger was haunting me? Was I  misreading this individual or was I just getting all soft and gooey in my old age? Ummm...I was referring to my heart, not my waistline. But now that I think about it....Oh never mind.

I was tired. And cold. Ready to finally sit down and enjoy my cozy little home. But soon I found myself putting on my coat and gloves and started my car-- searching for Michael. While I can be firm in my responses with the begging populous of the world, I am generally not rude. But this was a moment of cutting words and discourteous dismissal. I don't know about you, but I rather think everyone is worthy of civilized kindness.

I drove around various parking lots, dark streets, surveying the folks coming and going from various businesses. I was determined to find this kid and make amends. Why? So I could absolve myself from guilt, a skewed ego, or mean spirit? Partly. But there was a tug at this soul of mine that he just didn't need one more rejection. Have you ever had days like that? Yeah, me too.

As I turned into the Sav-A-Lot parking area, there he was. Just standing. I got out of my car and said, "Michael?" He walked over towards me and I recounted our exchange outside the Family Dollar store. I apologized for my mean self and he just looked at me and explained his plight. "I'm locked out, trying to get to my grandmother's, called about the price of a cab, my dad's a truck driver headed for Lexington--did you know there was a Lexington? I only knew of Louisville." Well, I almost told him, that yes, I knew of Lexington. But he sure didn't need to prepare for a geography test.

As I listened to his conversation I used all of my critical thinking skills to find holes in his story. But he stopped midway and said, "I can't believe you came back to find me. I just don't know where to go. The Wheeler Mission is not taking anyone else for the night." I did know this to be true, as it fills up early on cold nights, and they do turn away folks after a certain time. Yep...I had offered to give him a ride there. Cops won't unlock his apartment and the landlord has to have a written statement faxed to him saying he lives there. With his dad on the road, that was not an option. Grandma lived in Noblesville, and he is welcome to come but she doesn't drive.

Are you doing what I did? Trying to measure his words to see if there was truth in them? Listening for slip-ups in the sequence of events so I could pull out my "This is a bunch of crap" red pen and mark a big fat 'F' on his forehead?

He never asked me for a dime. Ironic, isn't it, that we met outside the Family Dollar and he was lacking in both. I really just listened and tried to put him at ease. I had no clear solutions to his problem but if getting him to Grandma's in Noblesville was his next plan of action, then he needed $16 more dollars for that to happen. Yeah, the cab company had given him an estimate of the fare. He was short a few bucks. I am short we had that in common.

Michael was given a five dollar bill from the short lady who never gives cash. I cannot tell you when I felt so good about giving another person money. Could I have scraped up the $16 he needed? Hmmm...maybe with some careful excavating from the bottom of my purse. But he was thrilled with the five, gave me a hug, and thanked me over and over again for coming back.

Looking for a stranger may be deemed dangerous by you. I have to agree. But perhaps that is what the scriptures are whispering to us when it tells us to love the unlovely, take risks in caring for others, and to "dry the orphant's tear." Oh wait. That last one was James Whitcomb Riley. But no matter. Everyone is worthy of a kind act now and then.

Even when you are called to go out and look for a stranger named, "Michael."

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Sad Exit

On Friday, I attended a memorial service of one of my former students. That's the thing with teaching....once a kid was assigned to my class, he/she became one of 'my kids'. And that final good-bye was just rough.

Especially when this young person found the world so dark he planned--and enacted his own exit. "Lots of questions, no answers. This is hard stuff. Even for the teacher who is supposed to have all of the answers. It is just as hard for me to understand, as you." This was my response to many classmates, who tearfully begged me to make it all better. In fifth grade I stood between them and the real world. My toughest call might have been at recess, deciding which team would  bat first. Then they all grew up, and scattered. Seven years later, we gather...with lumps in our throats, confusion in our hearts, and moments of awkwardness. I would strain to put names with faces, then they would recall an event or such, and I was back under their spell.

When I learned that 'my' kid had passed away, I did not sleep all night. Replaying events and memories. Even though he was on my watch seven years ago...I was sifting through my days with this boy. Was I too harsh? Did I talk over listening? Did I miss something? What could I have done differently to have served him better?

Prior to attending the service in his memory, I substitute taught at my granddaughter's school. Their entire day was planned around a fundraiser for a classmate battling cancer. Her fight for life so fierce, an entire school corporation has raised thousands of dollars on her behalf. Hours later, I would sit in church with several hundred people, wondering why this young man chose not to grow old. Too bad he couldn't have given his unwanted minutes to this  young girl, praying for another remission. Better yet; why couldn't we all see how dark his days had come?

The death of a young person is always haunting. If it occurs in the military, there is honor. If a car crash or occupational accident claims one's life, it is tragic but explainable. When we bury a young adult who has died under medical catastrophe, we shake our heads, pin a colored ribbon to our lapel and join a marathon. Okay----that sounds cold and heartless, and that is not my intent. But folks become passionate about finding cures and many outlets are available to fund such research. There is purpose in their passing.

But with suicide, there is such grim darkness that we all stand in its ugly shadow. There are so many layers of guilt, blame, self-torture. It is a mean game of hide and seek. The individual has hidden away his demons and his tomorrows; those left behind still seek answers that will stay unrevealed. Maneuvering through a future that seems hopeless and without peace, we try to calm the emptiness with cliches and platitudes. The closure is sloppy and unfulfilling, and laced in failure. Ours....not his/hers.

I know that this blog is perhaps, disturbing. I do not want my posts to be that of gloom and doom. But I am an authentic author and must share the "ongoing stories of my soul" as they play out in my days. I cherish you for plodding through some of the painful parts of my ramblings. In doing so, you bring a balance and understanding to that which is so incomprehensible.

I lost a boy whose life was laced in one kind act after another. A gentle soul who could make others feel welcomed, at ease, and best yet: could make them laugh. Perhaps he was just a person too kind for this world. May his exit from this life become an entrance to a world full of promise and inner peace.

How I wish the same for his broken, beaten mother, who will never be the same. Her son was an amazing young man; I am honored to have called him my student. This was his senior year...a milestone in the journey of education. But he moved up his graduation from this life to whatever comes next. I do not blame or judge...but struggle with what we all should learn from this.

So many lessons, so little time. A sad exit, indeed.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Writing Goes to the Dogs. Again.

Well, it's a dog's day afternoon. And I have no idea what that means. A meaningless metaphor, I suppose.

But I have been pounding this keyboard trying to get a very special story from the brain to manuscript stage. It made its entrance in this gray matter some twenty years ago, but it is time to return to the drawing board. Which is another dumb metaphor because the only drawing I do is from my checking account. And we all know my checkbook is not suitable for framing.

But I am not alone in this authorship endeavor. The dogs are helping me.

Max: "Hey Deb...whatcha doing? Can I help? Are you going to use that printer thingy scares the beejesus out of me. I'm afraid it is going to eat me."
Harper: "If we could only be so lucky..."
Deb: "Boys, go away. I will never get this story written."
Max: "Hey...can I be the first to eat it?"
Deb: "You mean, the first to read it?"
Max: "Hey...I love good literature! It makes a great snack."
Harper: "Do you ever think of anything but digestion?"
Max:"Hey...if it's plastic or paper it is my kind of meal."
Deb:" where was I? Oh yeah...I need a colon."
Max: "Doesn't the colon have to do with digestion?"
Harper: "Not that colon you idiot. Punctuation. Deb, from my vantage point, I see your participle is dangling in the third paragraph."
Deb:"Just because you are named after an author doesn't mean you are a grammarian."
Max:"Hey....he's a grammarian? I thought he was a Black Lab/Akita mix."
Harper:"Oh...and you have a misplaced modifier in that last second paragraph. Just saying...."
Max:"Hey...I might know where that misplaced modifier is. Harper, didn't you bury it with her black sock when the snow melted?"
Harper:"Oh my bad. I meant to bury you. Go away, Max. You know nothing about the craft of writing."
Deb:"Harper be nice. Max can't help it if he is...well, umm, Max. Harper....what do you think would make a good title?"
Max: Hey....title? I have a title. I am: 'Max the Not Quite Right Rescue Dog'."
Harper: " are proud? Geesh."
Max: "Hey....better than being named after some old lady author who stayed in her dog house after she wrote her dumb book about killin' an old bird."
Harper: "I will have you know that I am named after the amazing Harper Lee, who wrote, 'To Kill a Mockingbird' which is a classic novel, beloved my many. And Deb's favorite book. So there."
Max: Hey...."I thought her favorite book was the B-I-B-L-E."
Harper: "And it is that one line in there, that says, "Thou shalt not kill" that is saving you right now. Oh Deb...spellcheck that last word in sentence four, paragraph six."
Deb: "What would I do without you, Harper?"
Max: "Hey....what would you do without me?"
Harper:"Live in a world of pure joy, intelligence, and calm."
Deb: "Oh Harper....look at what Max has brought into our lives."
Harper: "Let's look: I see pestilence, the plague, chaos, pandemonium, and that was just Tuesday."
Max: "Hey...I was good on Tuesday. Pandemonium--that was Wednesday."
Harper: "I stand corrected."
Max: "Hey...I stand correctly every day."
Deb: "Boys, it is time for a nap. You two are wearing me out like old socks."
Max: "Ha! Ha! Ha! She called us old socks. Maybe she'll bury us!"
Harper: "Is that Amvets truck going to be on our street? I have a donation. I'll just need some duct tape for the box so it won't escape."
Deb: " cannot give away Max. He's family."
Harper:"No. He's the village idiot."
Max: " who's stupid. We don't live in a village. We live in a municipality called a 'city'. So there, Harper Lee Wannabee!"
Harper:"Hmmm. 'Municipality'....that's a six syllable word. Maybe there is hope for you yet, Max!"
Deb: "Awww...I just love it when you get along. Want a treat?"
Max:"Hey....treats! Harper, we're getting treats! Like, you know, doggie biscuits and such. Real snacks---not like the mail."
Harper:"You get excited about the littlest thing. Okay. Let's go get that treat. Remember; you sit, get the treat then run off. Last time you got the order all wrong. She had to chase you, watch you snarf it down, then you sat."
Max:"I have trouble with that sequencing thing. Must have missed that Sesame Street episode on 'before and after'.
Harper: "You are an episode. A manic episode."
Deb:"Okay...go to bed. And no more talking. Go to sleep like good dogs."
Max: "Hey....did you hear that? She called us good dogs."
Harper:"Yeah, she always did have trouble with singular and plurals."
Max: "Hey...quit talking about singing and pearls. I'm trying to get some sleep here."
Harper:"'To Kill a Mockingbird' needs a sequel....but it won't be about killing a bird."
Deb: "Now....where was that misplaced modifier....?"

Sunday, February 10, 2013

"Trouble Came"

Decided it was time to organize my clutter from years of teaching. The plaques, the precious 'thank you' cards from parents, the letters from many students that I just kept 're-boxing'. And the hundreds of photos. The job has taken me days, as I have to sit and re-read each  correspondence as if it is new mail. And it kinda is....since my memory is, umm what was I writing about? It was a walk down 'I Am Trying to Remember Lane'. I sat on a kid's chair in the basement lost in the days when teaching was a grand adventure. My, how I was blessed in that classroom day after day. So many students, so many stories, so little time.

And then I saw him. A crooked, sheepish grin looking up at me through the ages. It was the nineties, and a little boy was placed in my second grade classroom. His name was Joey D. and if he might as well had the words: Failure to Thrive, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Special Needs (IEP in place), Neglected, CHiNS (Child in Need of Services), Emotionally and Mentally Handicapped, Indigent, Foster Care Child, Runner, Abused, Thief, Juvenile Delinquent and one day, Murderer etched on his forehead. Because all of these labels would tell his story. Now....let me tell you Joey's story; because I am the one who came to love him.

Joey was placed in my classroom, shortly after the school year had  started. I only had him one semester as he would ultimately be placed in a full-time special needs classroom, as the "least restrictive environment" would create chaos for this young soul. He came to me from the state of Florida, where his mother had killed his father's girlfriend. But when I--or anyone else asked him what happened, he would furrow his brow, and mumble, "Trouble came." I had been told the story from his caseworker; I watched it unravel his young life.

So, Joey and I settled in. I taught him to write his first name. He now had four letters under his belt. He could not name the color red, but he would match it up to my nail polish! Yeah, I stuck with red for many weeks, just in case Joey needed that color crayon. He sat right next to my desk so the other children would not be disturbed by his outbursts of crying, anger, and overall sadness. While the other students floated by with the standard second grade curriculum, Joey and I fastened our learning curve on letters, numbers, social skills, and survival. Joey became my personal exercise regimen for those months, as I would chase him when he bolted from my classroom to hide. While I would smile when I saw the toes of his shoes from the boys' restroom stall or janitor's closet, inside me I would weep. If only running and hiding could help him escape from what his sorry life had lived in eight vicious years, I would have hidden him myself.

I found the photo of his last day in my class. The students had covered his desk and chair with notes of "Good Luck, Joey" "We'll Miss You" and such. He flashed that crooked grin. A new adventure, although he did not want to leave my class. I rode in the car with his case worker and bought him a McDonald's Happy Meal as we went to his new school. That was back in the time when principals cared more for the child than his/her test scores, and mine allowed me this ride with Joey to his new school. This would be a tough goodbye.

Joey jabbered more than ever on the ride, savoring his sandwich. I knew how to fill in the gaps and answer his questions, yet I wondered if this would not simply be one more round of abandonment from his skewed point of view. I felt guilty for all of the moments I prayed for a calm classroom--one without Joey. I came to understand how one child can tilt a balanced place of learning into pandemonium. Anyone employed in a school is shaking their heads in agreement. I assured him he would be fine. Hmmm...was I trying to convince him or myself?

My favorite photo of us depicts my arms around Joey reaching across his chest. I am smiling and he is, too. A closer look from a trained eye would probably see a therapeutic hold; too much affection was confusing and dangerous to him. I would look at that picture years later and wondered...."Whatever happened to Joey D?"

In the 2000's, the Indianapolis paper revealed that a 54 year old woman was found guilty in the of slaying of a high school student. Seems this mother and her son had walked up a stairwell. She had bumped the student and he had made a comment for her to watch where she was going. Angered, the mother encouraged her son to burst into the apartment and shoot three bullets into the student, resulting in his death. More stories would show that this son was mentally incompetent to act on his own.

I knew this to be true. I had taught him to spell his name and recognize the color red, though he had trouble retrieving the name for it. Ironic, that blood is red and that is one color he knew. One may ask, "What kind of mother would set her son up for murder?" The kind that had killed his future years ago.

I don't know if Joey is still living, is incarcerated, or what. I do not stand in judgment of how his life played out. But for one short semester he owned my heart and I rescued him every moment I could--and when he would allow it.

"Trouble came." Indeed.

And never left my Joey D.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Excuse me, but your embarrassment is showing....

Well, embarrassment seems to be a popular theme to write about. The cool thing about this topic is that in the moment, our egos and self-confidence are in the toilet. But with time, experience and maturity, we can look back on those awful embarrassing incidents with a simple "guffaw." I think it's because we live life and have so many more layers of embarrassing moments that some of those, early on, become insignificant.

My son Matt, who in yesterday's blog, humiliated his daughter, had a couple of whizbangers himself. There is the day he was riding his bike on Pleasant Run Parkway, trying to impress a couple of gals named Kelly and Megan. As he looked their way and flashed that big flirtatious smile at these young ladies, he plowed right in the back of a parked car. Having a little problem with your mojo, Matt?

Or the time he was invited to a neighborhood birthday party for the above mentioned, Megan. As Matt juggled his cake and red punch he decided to go through the patio door and enjoy the festivities inside. One small problem. The screen door was shut, and Matt did not notice such. As he walked into that screen, his red punch slopped all down the front of his shirt. Can we say 'Hawaiian Punch' for the Hawaiian?

That's the problem with life. We amble through our days only to trip and fall. With an audience watching. Today, we have the added pleasure of being recorded and finding our foibles on somebody's FB page. Or in their blogs. Have we no sense of decency?

Okay. I will share a high school event that still makes me feel like the village idiot. It is an odd happening. Would you expect anything else from me? So, I had gym class and was in a huge rush to get to study hall, which was in opposite ends of the building. Back in the seventies, we still wore panty hose and dresses, from time to time. Somehow, in my mad rush and fear of being tardy I did not notice an old mop string on the locker room floor. Don't ask me how I did not realize it was encapsulated between my foot and my nylons, but hey---who is really sane in high school?

Well, I dashed to my class, only to feel something snaking up my ankle. Yep, the mop string had come to life. As I endeavored to work my short legs to the opposite ends of Howe High School, the gross, ugly string had relocated its ugly self for all to see. I was eager to die.

Landing in my assigned seat just as roll was being called, I sat there bending my legs and wrapping them to hide the string. I must have looked like a very bad contortionist or a human pretzel. Think that attracted more attention to me? Hmmm. You must realize that I was painfully shy in high school. Especially when sporting mop strings beneath my panty hose.

The ugly, rude boy sitting next to me finally assuaged my nervousness by commenting quite loudly, "What the hell is on your leg?" Couldn't he have just whispered, "Excuse me Deb, but your mop string, while a very nice color of wash-water gray, is moving up your ankle and is not getting that designer effect you are going for." Sigh. I then sought permission to go to the ladies' room and extract said string from my skin.

Wonder how long it took that kid to find that string hanging off his nasty sweater. Embarrassment, when countered by revenge, can be quite sweet. 

Suffice it to say, that I have had an unknown number of embarrassing moments. Heck, you may have been with me when these occurred--or if you are lucky--I embarrassed you, as well!

What's that you said? Knowing me is an embarrassment?

I just know that these emotional wounds heal and the scars they leave are worth remembering. We must own our moments of stupidity and just continue with the journey.

And leave those ugly mop strings in the locker room of life.

Monday, February 4, 2013

An Unwanted Police Escort

       When my granddaughter was in fifth grade, she was accompanied off her school bus by a uniformed police officer. The only crime she had committed was not getting off at her assigned stop. I will add that this was the first day of school and mistakes can be made. She will never forget that day, and understandably, does not like discussing it. I have her permission to share this blog with you. Names will be changed to protect the innocent.

         I will call my granddaughter, 'Kaylee' and we will refer to the officer as, let's say, 'Officer Matt'. Kaylee's mom, whom we will randomly name, 'Shannon', was anxiously awaiting her daughter to emerge from that big yellow monster after her first day of school. Buses snaked down their sub-division for what seemed hours. Finally, Shannon telephoned Officer Matt and described her panic: Kaylee was not off the bus. Perhaps Kaylee had forgotten the bus number and had gotten on the wrong bus! Officer Matt, assured Shannon, that she did indeed, know the proper number. Perhaps, thought Officer Matt--she had been abducted or was left at the school all alone. Could she be in a hostage situation?  His mind turned over various dark scenarios.

       Kaylee sat in her seat, nervous that the bus had gone by her house and street, without stopping. Thinking that it would turn and come from another direction, my granddaughter stayed put. Soon, they were heading out in a whole other neighborhood and Kaylee began to question her fate. At that moment, the bus was stopped by flashing lights and Officer Matt boarded the bus. What would happen next, would be etched in Kaylee's young memory forever.

       "Is Kaylee C--------- on this bus?" boomed the uniformed officer. Now, you must realize that on the first day of school, drivers usually do not yet know their riders. As the driver shouted out her name, Kaylee rose slowly from her seat to face this foreboding arm of the law; complete with firearm, pepper spray, and Taser. She had been identified, terrified, and was now being escorted off the bus--against her will.

       As they exited the bus, Officer Matt radioed Shannon, "I got her."
       Shannon responded, "You've got her? Like off the bus?"
       "Affirmative," replied Officer Friendly.

       Then the interrogation began, with the officer questioning his young suspect on her negligence to get off of the bus. What was her motive? Why did she create such worry for her mother? My granddaughter was then forced to ride in the back of the squad car like a common criminal.

        I would ask her later how she felt and her response was, "Embarrassed! Totally annoyed! Mortified! I would not say one word to him! I just stared out the window."

        Shannon was quite relieved that Officer Matt had found Kaylee, but knew that the conversation at home was going to be a bit precarious. The rescuing officer had to return to his district as his shift was just beginning, but not before even more details unfolded.

         Kaylee explained that the driver did not stop at her street, but she thought he would swing back around and go by her house. When this did not occur, Kaylee just did what Kaylee does best; show up, sit up, and shut up. Hardly one to break a rule, she decided to just, well, ride it out. Until Officer Matt hollered her name for all to hear.

         This story has a happy ending. No child came up missing, no arrests were made, no one was injured in this police action. But this tale has become a family favorite narrative.....

         " you know how much you embarrassed me when you climbed on the bus?"
          "What'd I do?"asked Officer Matt. (His standard retort for any and all  mischief he created from birth to thirty-five years of age).
          "Dad....I'm in fifth grade. All of the kids are going to make fun of me because my father came on the bus and took me off!"
           "Well, it's okay because after I got you in the squad car, I just told everyone you were a wanted felon, and I had a warrant for your arrest.'
Officer Matt just laughed his little quirky giggle and did what all good law enforcement officers do: gave his daughter a kiss and a hug and went off to protect and serve the city.
         Kaylee has no comment, but sources close to the situation know for a fact, that the suspect was plotting a homicide, or at least a meaningful misdemeanor.

           I pity the day she starts dating.



Friday, February 1, 2013

"Don't I Know You?"

Have you ever been mistaken for someone else? You know...some stranger comes up to you and thinks you are like, Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock? This is who I get confused with all the time. I just give out autographs and go on with my shopping at Dollar General.

Truly, this has happened to me a few times in November. Seems some folks think I resemble the gal who oversees the Election Board in my county. Well, she is about 20 years younger than me, so that is a good thing. But you know, I don't see it. One lady started to state a question about absentee voting. I decided to have a bit of fun with her. I told her that she was certainly welcome to vote absentee ballot; however, she had to have a family member write her a valid excuse note and send it in with her form. Preferably her parents---and she had better not try to forge their signature. As she looked befuddled, I came clean. "No I am not Beth White, and no I have no idea about absentee ballots." I know. It was a mean thing to do and I just lost your vote. Sorry.

Well, the craziest time was when I was in, you guessed it, Dollar General. I was perusing the pet food aisle when this African American male turns around, looks at me and says: "Hey! How are you? I haven't seen you at the club in a while. How you been? You are looking good. you been?"

Hmmm. I started to say, " You had me at hello." But he didn't say "hello" he said "hey." So much for that great movie line. But the next reference he made was to 'the club'. You may not know me very well, so let me interject that the only club I was a member of was the Monkees Fan Club when I was eleven. Suffice it say, I do not think this gentleman was thinking of that club.

So before I could politely enlighten him on who I was not, I was relishing that "You are looking good" line.'s my life and if  it rocked my world, then so be it. About that time, he realized I was not who he thought I was:

"Aren't you....?"
"Um no."
"Oh...I'm sorry. You looked jus' like this gal who used to come to the club."
"Yeah. I got kicked out of the club. Didn't wear my Monkees Fan    
   Club pin to the meetings."
"Huh? Oh well, you sure be having a twin. See you later."

Great. A club-attending 'twin' who attracts strangers in the Dollar store or Chairperson of the Election Board. Yep, this is my life.

Usually I am the one who approaches all sorts of people and most likely I know them and they know me. It is soooo cool to reconnect with former students, their parents, neighbors, etc. I tell them my life story, they tell me what they can in between my taking breaths, and I walk away all smiley and such. And then I hum that song from the eighties, "We are the World...."

My grandson told me last Saturday, after running into folks I had not seen in 25 years, that I just talk to everyone. He's kinda right.
He went on to say, "Mamaw, one of these days you are going to walk up to somebody and they are going to say: "Yeah, I know you. You shook my hand two years ago and told me a long story."

I laughed. My children and their children laughed. It's true. The 'don't I know you' is really my own demon. What can I say? I like people and if I know them, then I want to do the polite thing and retell the last forty years of my life. I talk pretty fast, so I can get from childbirth to retirement rather quickly.

I'll bet Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock wouldn't give them that much time.

Well, I'd like to elaborate on this more, but hey...I gots to get to the club. You never know who I might meet there!