Month: March 2012

Rescue 91……1

Today we were talking about our favorite reality shows. While I am not a fan of any of the newer ones, I certainly enjoyed the old Rescue 91…1 (at least that is how Shat pronounced 911).

The show was basically re-enactments of various 911 calls. My favorite was the one where the kid got his tongue stuck in the freezer while reaching beyond his means to obtain a Popsicle.  He was like “I got my Thung (That’s how he pronounced ‘tongue’) stzuck in de freezber” It cracked me up, not sure why.

I loved the way that William Shatner made each call sound like a worldwide panic. A similar show to this was Unsolved Mysteries. Robert Stack hosted this show in  which re-enactments of mysteries were shown. I always wondered why they never made a show named ‘Solved Mysteries’, not THAT would be a show!


An open heart and an open door

All my life it seems that people in need choose to seek refuge in me. For me, this is part honor, and part horror. The honor part is because I feel honored that somebody realizes that by coming to me, I can find some way to help them. The horror part is because I worry that my help may not be enough, and as I lack the proper training, I often feel as if I should attend university and do a few psychology courses, never know.

A while ago I worked in an electronics store. When we sold computers, I was always asked to go to the customer’s home to install the computers, set up the networks, printers, etc.

On this occasion, I was to visit the residence of a woman who I will call Diane. Diane and her small child lived alone in a small, run down apartment in one of the rougher sides of town. I could see from all the artwork on her walls, Diane was a very talented artist. I could also detect sadness in her work. Diane’s small daughter dealt with hearing issues, and Diane said that this caused her grief, not only because her daughter’s father refused to help, but because she could not afford the expensive hearing aids that her daughter so desperately needed.

I was surprised at how much Diane revealed about herself while I was there. It was as if she knew me all her life, as she told me things I really had no business knowing. I tried to direct her to the proper avenues to seek help in receiving the proper assistance with her issues, and she seemed thankful for this. She was, however, angry when I said I had to leave. She asked if I could drop in again sometime.

I returned to work, and apparently she called my employer to ask him for my home phone number, which he provided without my knowledge.

One night, at approximately 2 a.m., I received a call from Diane. She sounded grief stricken and she asked if I could drop by. I worked all day, and with work in the morning, I didn’t feel as if it were a great idea. Despite the fact that I had not been in a relationship with anyone at the time, I decided against pursuing any relationship with this woman, leaving it to a professional relationship instead. She practically begged me do come to her home.

She got to the true reason why she had called after about a half an hour on the phone. She said that she could not take it any longer. Her boyfriend had abandoned her with a small child, her child had hearing issues and was struggling in school, she couldn’t find work and her rent was due soon, and she had been drinking. She said that she had a few pills from a friend, and she had taken them while talking to me on the phone. She said that she was beginning to feel weak.

I asked that she hold on for one minute, and while talking to her, I also called the local police to report a possible suicide. The officer asked if I thought she was serious, and I agreed that this seemed very serious. I remembered her address and provided it to the officer, and then I rejoined Diane on the phone. I talked to her, and assured her that there was a future here. I explained that her daughter needed a mom in her life and without her, her daughter’s life would be so difficult.

During our conversation, she said that her door bell rang, and she rushed to answer it. She returned to the phone to tell me one thing before the officer could take control of the issue. “You Bastard” she said, violently, and hung up the phone.

A few years afterward, I ran into Diane at the local grocery store. I was surprised to find that she came over to talk. “It was you, who called the cops to my home that night, wasn’t it?” she asked. “Do you know that they took my daughter from me and forced me to seek counseling?” she inquired.

“I had to do it, I felt that you would do something drastic like end your life” I told her.

“I would have, but thanks to you I am still here” she said, surprisingly.

Apparently she stayed in counseling, eventually got her daughter back, and then received the help she needed to purchase the hearing aids for her little girl. Diane has a job now, and has met a nice guy. The three of them live in a beautiful home with two dogs and a cat.

Diane’s story ended very positive, but for years I regretted calling the police. I know now that I did the right thing. For some reason, suicidal people seek me out for answers. I am not sure whether this is a gift or a curse, but my door is always open, and I always offer whatever help that I can.

Diet ideas

I am working at cutting out Junk food in my diet. (notice how I capitalized ‘Junk’? That’s how much I love Junk Food)

Last evening, I sat and finished off a bag of Lays Ketchup Chips. I love em, but I know that they are not good for me, and even worse for my sugars (Diabetic here).  This got me to thinking. I don’t really care for the chip part, but I love the flavor, so why can’t someone make Ketchup Chip flavored water? How about Ketchup Chip seasoning for lettuce? You get where this is going, we need a product that we can put on healthy food so that we can enjoy the taste and not worry about the effects on our health.

“Hey Snb, what are you having for lunch?” a friend could ask.

“I am having a bottle of Ketchup Chip water, and I have a wonderful veggie salad topped with healthy Ketchup Chip flavored seasoning” would be my response.

Until then, I will treat myself to my chips once per month as I always do, and walk an extra few minutes afterwards.

Bullied in the 70’s

Growing up in the late 70’s was very difficult for me because I was a victim of bullying. Thing was, it was so common that nobody did much about it. The bigger kids bullied the smaller ones. The confident kids bullied those who lacked confidence, the sports stars bullied those who sucked at sports. Unfortunately for me, I was a kid who was smaller than most, I lacked confidence, and I sucked at sports. I might as well have had a big bulls-eye painted on my back.

There was a kid in our community whose nickname was Moose. Hell, I think he put that name on himself because he didn’t like to be called ‘Stevie’…he beat a bunch of kids up for calling him that once.

My bullying didn’t only exist in the earlier grades, but that is where it begun. I remember walking into the school late for after lunch classes, bloodied and battered, and the teachers punishing me for being late. Because the kids who I claimed bullied me were athletes, nobody believed me. So in this circumstance, I believe the school system at the time bullied me as well.

There was this one kid, Danny, who was every teacher’s dream kid. He excelled in not only soccer and hockey, but also in his studies. How he found the time to torture me I will never know. My family was very poor when I was younger, and each year, my parents struggled to save enough money to buy my books and school supplies. Every year Danny would steal my books and throw the out or burn them, and he made sure that every pencil I owned was broken into pieces too small to use. For some reason, perhaps the fact that we shared the same last name, he was always paired with me as my locker partner. This did not work to my advantage.

My favorite clothing, including mitts and hats that my grandmother knitted for me would go missing so often that I chose not to wear any. There was no way I could store my boots in my locker, because they would often end up in the girl’s bathroom, and you can guess how that turned out.

Kids who were fortunate enough to attend self defense classes such as Karate or other martial arts often practiced their moves on me, ouch, I can still remember how much I suffered!

Nowadays, I work at a high school, and it puzzles me to see how bullying is still such an issue. Each year the school holds events like Stand Up to Bullying day, Anti-Violence week, etc, but kids are still forced to face the terrors of bullying.

I read somewhere that a new documentary is being made about bullying. I think this is great, but until schools develop a Zero Tolerance rule on bullying, I don’t think the issue will ever go away.

By the way, my bullying problem from the 70’s ended abruptly one June day in 1980, when our graduating class had an outing at a local park. Danny, who thought he was bulletproof and that he had led a charmed life, chose to dive into very shallow water. He hit his head on a rock and died on impact. Although this was a tragic accident, and it took the life of a very young person, I could not find sadness for him at the time. I was shocked at how many other kids felt exactly like I did on that one faithful day.


Eight items or less

While on my way home this evening, I decided to drop into the local grocery store and pick up a few items. Seeing how I could carry the four items in one hand, I decided to stand in the 8 items or less aisle. Big mistake! Some moron in front of me had a shopping cart filled with groceries. Now I have been trying to work on my filter these days, (let me explain. My lady thinks most people have this imaginary filter between what their brain is thinking and what actually comes out of their mouths. Apparently I wasn’t born with such a filter, but I am working on it!) so I tried my best not to say anything.

“Say nothing, say nothing…” The mantra went through my mind, and my lady would have been proud, until I somehow muttered “Excuse me sir, but this is the 8 items or less checkout.” The people behind me breathed a sigh of relief, as they knew as well as I did that this guy was going to hold up the line forever.

“What was that bud” the rude man with the shopping cart said. “This is the 8 items or less checkout, apparently your counting skills are equal to your reading skills!” I told him. “There goes the filter” I thought to myself, too late to stop myself.

“That girl at the cash register, she will check me in unless someone complains” He said, in a bully like manner, and I really hate bullies.

“Well, I am complaining!” I said, waiting to be joined by my fellow shoppers, but I wasn’t.

“This is only eight things, I have bread, milk, canned goods, meat, biscuits, cereal, juice, dog food, and candy!” he said.

The poor lady at the checkout didn’t have to do anything, because lucky for me, the store manager was standing next to the checkout.

“Sir, this checkout is for eight items or less, not eight food groups. Please go to the next line and wait your turn.” The kind store manager told the disgruntled customer.

I breathed a sigh of relief on this one, because if my lady were nearby, she would have pointed out the fact that I should have kept quite, but I couldn’t…I left my filter at home.

Kids without Dreams

While running a school project in a small community this week, I happened upon a very sad fact. The project was one in which we asked grade nine kids to explore their future through various activities such as career planning, budgeting, and interviewing skills.

We began the day by asking kids about their dreams, what plans they had for the future, and how they planned to attain those dreams. The activity would then progress to the point of having kids tell you how they wanted to live, what things they wanted to buy, etc.

When I asked about dreams, a large percentage of the class replied that they did not have any dreams. They did not plan any further than the ninth grade. They did not think of anything other than this weekend’s party. In fact, partying was the only thing they wanted in their futures.  One kid even wanted to work in a bar, so he could have all the booze he wanted.

Sadly, the community where this took place is one where unemployment is relatively high, Income support being the main source of income in most of the households in the area.  The community is located in a remote area, miles from any major centers.

I will be the first to agree that a child in the ninth grade probably does not know what he or she will be doing once they graduate, but given that we ran this same program in a more heavily populated area and had a very different result, I know that the location had more to do with the outcome than previously imagined.

We tried to motivate the kids by asking questions like “When you graduate, what kind of car would you like to drive?”, “What kind of home would you like?” and “What type of lifestyle would you like to have?”, and the resulting answers were all the same. The majority of the kids wanted exactly what their parents had, which was basically nothing.

This is not to say that the area in which they lived was not a beautiful spot. In fact, the area boasts splendid scenery, miles of clean, sandy beaches, and clear blue water. The area is a tourist’s dream, if it were properly promoted.

This was not always a problem in the area. Back in the 70’s and 80’s, the area was a busy tourist spot. A provincial park centered in the community brought tourists from all over the island. The men in the community worked as fishermen, and made an honest day’s pay. The community was filled with proud, hard working citizens who were proud of where they lived and where they came from. The future was bright, as sons of fishermen made as much money as their fathers and fathers before them. Nobody imagined that one day, all this would come crashing down.

The fishery crashed. Trawlers and long liners from other provinces and even other countries dragged the sea bottom, depleting the vast cod fishery that provided a healthy staple in homes throughout the community. Governments turned their backs on the smaller west coast communities, focusing on the larger fishing communities of the east coast of the province, the communities that surrounded the larger centers, and surrounded St. John’s, the capital city of the province. Packages were given to the fishermen in the east coast communities, that allowed for retraining and moving on. Virtually nothing was spent on the west coast, and because of this lack of support, these communities are now facing the issues that we see here today.

We have to bring pride back to these small communities if we want our kids to dream again. I have always believed that our kids are our future, but without dreams, what kind of future are we headed for?

Trifecta Challenge # 20: Jo

I remember her well. I met her through a friend. In the short time that I knew her, she seemed so troubled.

I asked her out to a movie once. She seemed really excited to go. When we got to the movie, she started listing all the things I was not allowed to do. I was not allowed to hit her, even if I was angry. I was not allowed to touch her unless I asked her first. I wasn’t to expect sex, not now at least.

I started out by assuring her that I would never wanted any of those things, I just wanted someone to go to the movie with, maybe a casual chat afterwards.

Jo was a woman who had escaped from a very violent relationship with the man who fathered her two kids. Rape is what she called their relationship, which ended when she reached out for help and almost got killed in the process.

The trouble was that she didn’t continue with the help. She stopped therapy once she felt that she was over the trauma that she suffered. She was wrong to think this.

Jo said that men made her feel ‘cheap’ and useless. We never dated again, but she did call, often. She called me on nights were she had flashbacks of her relationships. She called me to tell me about the fears she had, the one night stands she ended up regretting, and she called me to say good-bye.

When she said goodbye, I didn’t realize for how long.

A news report the following day told me just how long she was going.

Apparently Jo lay down in her bathtub and let the water fill up around her until she was no more. She drowned herself to death on that night, forever ending the cycle of abuse that she lived her entire life.

The Trifecta week #20 prompt is cheap, 3rd definition:
3 a : of inferior quality or worth : tawdry, sleazy (cheap workmanship)
b : contemptible because of lack of any fine, lofty, or redeeming qualities (feeling cheap)