The Flasher

January 30, 2008

My favorite route to my job at the major truck manufacturer took me through a round-about.  In order for you to envision what happened, picture this round-about — an island of land surrounded by street and slightly higher than the street, so that the pavement at the entrances to it slope down to the street.  Half of the island is a car wash and the other half is parking.  There are two entrances on opposite sides.

Okay, so one morning I’m on my way to work and there isn’t much traffic yet because it’s early.  As I start around this round-about, I notice a car parked at one of the entrances to the car wash.  The car is facing the street, and because of the slope, it’s fairly easy to see into it.  I didn’t think much of it and just briefly glanced at it as I drove by.  But, a few seconds later it dawned on me what I had seen when I drove by — it was a man waving at me, and NOT just with his hand!

So, rather than making the next turn to get out of the round-about, I just continued on around and went into the car wash from the opposite side, drove across the “island” and pulled up behind the car.  The windows were steamy (!).  Okay, I guess it isn’t unusual for windows to be steamy in cold weather in the morning, I just have trouble cutting this guy any slack in ANY assumptions.

Anyway, I had already gotten a pen and paper out, prepared to take down his license plate number as soon as I got close enough to read it.  But, he didn’t pull out right away — I’m assuming he was “making himself presentable.”  So, I was able to write the license plate number down and even check it to make sure I had it right.

After a minute or so, he slowly drove away.  I waited until he was out of sight before I went on to work, because I didn’t want him to have the opportunity to see where I worked.  I felt sure that he could see me writing down his plate number, and I didn’t know what reaction he might have to that.

When I got to work, I called the police.  They sent an officer to the office to take my statement.  I worked in a small building with about 60 employees, so the word that a police officer was in the building spread quickly, with everyone wondering why he was there.  After taking my statement, the officer left, and the buzzing began.  Of course, I told those around me what had happened, so it wasn’t too long until everyone had heard the story.  Frankly, at this point, we all thought it was funny.

Later in the day, a detective came to enterview me.  He had already gone to the man’s home who owned the car with the plate number I had given to the officer earlier.  The man admitted he was in fact sitting at the car wash that morning but he gave some weak reason, like he was adjusting his seat belt.  And he was emphatic that that was certainly all he had been doing.  During the conversation he had also told the detective that he was engaged to be married to a woman with a five year old little boy. 

The detective told me the man’s story, and I no longer felt this was as funny.  He was engaged and would have a young step-son!? 

The detective asked me if I wanted to press charges or drop it.  His recommendation was that it be dropped, because the man, after all, didn’t have any record.  He told me as he left that I should let him know if I wanted to pursue this.  When he walked out of the building, I’m pretty sure he marked that file “case closed” in his mind.  I think he was fairly certain he had convinced me not to doing anything.

And, he would probably have been right if I hadn’t gotten a call from Victim’s Assistance the next day.  Victim’s Assistance is a division of the city police department that was actually started by a friend of ours about 25 years ago.  Its purpose is to give support, direction and just general assistance to victims of crime. 

A Victim’s Assistance worker had seen the report the detective had taken from me and just wanted to let me know that they were there to help if I needed anything.  When I told  her about the details of what had happened, she told me that they have an “incident file” of crimes that they have been told about by victims that have never been resolved because the victims hadn’t pressed charges.  AND, she told me there were a number of reports in that file that were similar to what I had witnessed.

That, and the fact that the man was engaged to be married and would have a young step-son, helped me make the decision.  I felt that I at least wanted his fiance to know he had problems and I hoped that if I prosecuted him, the court would send him for counseling.

I called the detective the next day and said I wanted to press charges.  The detective was definitely surprised. He apparently thought he had talked me out of it.  (I later found out that he was just a month from retirement.  I think he had a major “short-timer attitude” and just didn’t want to be bothered pursuing this relatively unimportant case.)  I explained to him that I knew that Victim’s Assistance had a record of several other similar incidences, and that my thinking was that if every time one of these events took place, the victim didn’t prosecute, the same guy could be doing it over and over again and he  never would have a record!

So, a court date was set.  As the trial got closer, I got more nervous.  Even though Hubby was a police officer, I had never been involved in any kind of courtroom procedure (relatives of police officers are seldom even called for jury duty, and NEVER, as far as I know, actually make it onto a jury).

When the day arrived, I went to the courthouse and was met by the Victim’s Assistance representative.  She would go to court with me and explain what was going on.  What a wonderful service!  I knew quite a few people around the courthouse because of Hubby’s job, and even then I was appreciative of this assistance.  Imagine how grateful some other woman would be who knew no one.  A great service.

We went to the courtroom.  When the proceedings started, the judge asked the man I was accusing if he had a lawyer.  He didn’t; he was going to represent himself.  But, then a lawyer sitting in the courtroom, who I assume gets all his clients this way, went up and whispered something to the guy, and then the guy said he WAS represented.  Quality legal service, no doubt.

The judge had the guy come to the witness stand, and he was sworn in.  The prosecutor then read him the charges and asked how he responded.  He said, “Not Guilty.”  Then the prosecutor asked him if he had any explanation for what I had seen.  The man said, wellll, he DID have a water pistol that was shaped like, well, you know — what I THOUGHT I saw — and it WAS laying on the dashboard of his car and he MIGHT have been moving it just as I drove by.  So, this was really all just a horrible misunderstanding. 

Then, his “attorney” asked him more about the water pistol (probably the highlight of the low life attorney’s day) and, believe it or not, the man took the water pistol out of his jacket pocket!  No more questions for “Einstein” and he went and sat down.

The prosecutor had me come to the witness stand.  I was sworn in.  Then the prosecutor had me tell what I had seen.

After I told my story, and the prosecutor asked me a couple questions to clarify my story, the guy’s lawyer had his turn to question me.  He brought the water pistol and plopped it down on the edge of the witness stand and asked me if it was possible that that was what I had seen.  (I think he was hoping to rattle me with the close proximity to the unusual water pistol, and I have to say it was a little disconcerting.)  Hubby later told me I had missed a perrrrfect opportunity to say, “Oh, No.  What I saw was muuuuch SMALLER than that.”  But, I didn’t.  What I said was that I couldn’t rule out the possibility that that was what I saw, BUT even if it WAS what I saw, I believed the man’s intention had been for me to THINK it was the real thing.

Then the judge made his decision.  He found the guy guilty and fined him $400.  Case closed.

Crap.  While I had hopefully accomplished one of my goals — that this guy’s girlfriend be made aware that he had a problem, I hadn’t accomplished my other goal — for him to be required to get counseling.  So, I approached the prosecutor and told him how disappointed I was that counseling hadn’t been required.  He took me up to talk to the judge.  The judge explained that because it was the guy’s first offense, the $400 fine was the maximum penalty he could assess.  Rats.

So, this was all a learning experience for me.  I learned:  a) Flashers aren’t funny.  Besides their obvious problem, they have family and friends (and fiance’s) who suffer too.  b)  In this instance, doing what was right didn’t get the desired result, but, I’m still glad I got him “on record” for doing it.  c) There are stores that sell really bizarre water pistols.  d)  Victims Assistance is a wonderful organization, who made a nerve-racking courtroom appearance much less stressful for me. 

All in all a very interesting experience that all started with just an ordinary drive to work one early morning. 


Wait a Minute. Let Me Tune Up. Me Me Me Me Me Me !!

January 29, 2008

What the heck is a meme?  Whatever it is, Simple Blog Writer at Simple Words I Understand has tagged me for one.  So, here are the questions, which are all about books, and then my answers:

1.  One book that changed your life.

The Bible

How can I possibly say anything but the Bible, if I am to be absolutely truthful.  No other book in my life has made even a fraction of the difference to me as has the Bible.  It is the instruction manual for how I should conduct my life and the answer sheet for my questions about life.  It is my anchor when life is stormy and the wind beneath my wings when skies are blue and my spirit soars. 

2.  One book that you have read more than once.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

In my humble opinion, C.S. Lewis is one of the greatest authors of all time.  He is the total package.  His writings play every human emotion and thought and foible like a concert harpist plays her harp, and his words crescendo in moments of pure, beautiful truth, in unique and thought provoking ways that are totally his own God-given voice.

3.  One book you would want on a desert island.

Wellll, if you believe what I said, and you should — that the Bible is my instruction manual for life, where would I need it more than if I were stranded on a desert island?

4.  Two books that made you laugh.

All of the Junie B. Jones Series by Barbara Parks and Denise Brunkus

I know these books are meant for children, but I just love them.  The authors draw darling verbal word pictures of this little girl and the people in her life and I love a good word picture.  I read them to my grandchildren, and I have been known to read them just to myself too!

If Life Is A Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?  by Erma Bombeck

I laugh at, beginning at the opening line, everything she wrote.

5.  Two books that made you cry.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

Her faithfulness to God while in a concentration camp during World War II is unbelievably moving.

Let’s Roll by Lisa Beamer

The wife of one of the heroes on Flight 93 that went down in Pennsylvania on September 11, tells the very moving story of her husband’s life and death.

6.  One book you wish you’d written.

I Remember by my Mother

Mama journaled for most of her adult life and in 1979 my second sister took the huge amount of time required to organize Mama’s stories, and then Sis had them published with the title I Remember, with enough copies for all of Mama’s children and grandchildren to have a copy.

I hope it doesn’t sound disrespectful to Mama, but I wish that I would have been more interested (and more confident) in my writing while she was still alive, because I think I could have helped her write her stories in a less bare-bones style — in a way that would do more justice to all the experiences and memories she documented in her journals.

7.  One book you wish had never been written.

The His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman

Nothing good can come from taunting God.  Mr. Pullman will learn that one day.

8.  Two books you are currently reading.

Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy

I recently finished reading this book.  It is a great story of a true Christian’s life, but you probably need to be a big football fan (like me) to really enjoy it because there is lots of football talk surrounding his talk about his faith.

Schaum’s Quick Guide to Writing Short Stories by Margaret Lucke

I have just started reading this book, because it is the required reading for the Fiction Writing class I will start next week.  I may not be the best writer in that class but I do plan to be the best prepared!

9.  One book you’ve been meaning to read.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

The majority of my family are Christian and fiscal conservatives.  Our son and several of our nieces in Georgia have all recently mentioned what worthwhile reading this book is in regard to the world economy today, even though it was written decades ago.  They have piqued my interest, and I look forward to seeing what it’s all about.

10.  Five people that I tag.

This is the reason I’ve resisted doing meme’s.  I don’t want to give an assignment to someone who doesn’t want one.  So, I’m going to “wimp out” on this, and just say that if any blogger reading this post would like to do this meme, please consider this my invitation to you to do so.

This was one of the hardest posts I’ve ever written.  I had to do alot of thinking, as opposed to the mindless typing involved in most of my posts 🙂


A Quick Return on Our “Investment”

January 29, 2008

We returned last evening from a long weekend with my oldest sister and her husband in Atlanta.  It was a great success.

Sis and HJ loved it that we had hauled ribs down there from their favorite restaurant here, and they dubbed the ribs delicious! when we ate them on Friday evening.  I have to say I didn’t think the ribs were quite as good as they are when served in the restaurant, but they were pretty darn good (thanks to the detailed instructions I received from Marcia, the restaurant owner, about how to heat them). 

The rib restaurant here is famous for putting a roll of paper towels in the middle of each table — very practical, but not normal dining table decor.  So, we laughed when we arrived and Sis had the table set very nicely with tablecloth and placemats — but with a roll of paper towels in the middle of the table, in honor of “from whence the ribs came!” 

Then on Saturday and Sunday, their five children, their spouses and any of their children who were around (most are out on their own), came to lunch so that we could visit with them.  The plan was that they would come on Saturday or Sunday, depending on which was most convenient for them, but, because most of them live within walking distance, some would also just drop in for a few minutes at other times. 

It was absolutely great to get to visit with all of them.  They are a fun family, so we spent most of our time laughing.  (One story that always comes up is the time I was babysitting for the kids and somehow Mark, about 2 at the time, was allowed to get into the bathtub for his bath with his shoes on!  I always blame his older sisters for “allowing” that to happen, totally ignoring the fact that I was supposed to be in charge.)

We also saw all of them when we went to church on Sunday morning.  As demonstrated by the title of my blog, in my opinion, that combination of faith and humor makes for a perfect “recipe” for our lives — as they certainly demonstrate.

We just over-all had a terrific weekend, and as we were driving home yesterday, Hubby and I talked about the great return we received on our investment of  a couple of pretty long (but not unpleasant) drives to and from there, and a total of four days of our time.  The time could not have been better spent.

We should all be so fortunate to get such a quick and satisfying return on any investment.

Thank you God for our “Atlanta family” — you bless us thoroughly through them.


A Quick Road Trip Because We Love Them

January 25, 2008

We are leaving this morning for a quick trip to see my oldest sister and her husband in Georgia.  And, while I’m sure they will enjoy seeing us, I think they may enjoy seeing what we are bringing with us more! (I hear Sis denying that :))

They LOVE the ribs from a little place not too far from us.  For about the last 5 or 6 years whenever they would come to visit, we ALWAYS went there for dinner at least once.  Well, now they are having some health problems that keep them close to home so we are going to take some of the ribs they love to them!

When we went to get the ribs last night, the owner’s wife gave me all kinds of instructions (added to the slightly DIFFERENT ones the server gave me!), so I hope I can make these ribs edible once we get there.

Oh, well.  I’m sure they will eat them and say they are delicious, no matter how much I dry them out or whatever.  Because that’s the kind of people they are. 

Many years ago, when our parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, on the night before the big open house there were going to be about 30 people congregating at my house for the evening that I was going to have to feed (I was the only one of Mama and Daddys’ children who lived in town).  Out of the blue, Sis told me not to worry — she would take care of that meal!  She brought in coolers, all the way from Georgia, the makings for a meal for those 30 people! (She knew how stressful all that company was for disorganized, mother-of-young-children me.) 

I remember two emotions when Sis did that — awe that she could actually DO that — and gratitude that she had unexpectedly taken one of the big headaches of that weekend off my shoulders.  I will never forget that wonderful act of sisterly love.

So, it’s nice to be able to do a little thing this for them.

Thank you God, for Sis and her Hubby and all they have been to us. Amen


If I Were Going on a Trip, Would You Come Along for the Ride?

January 24, 2008

I feel a little like I am going on a trip, although for this “trip” I’m not leaving town. 

I’m just going to go across town to a local university, but I think I need for you to come along with me because it’s sort of unfamiliar territory, and I need to feel like I’m not alone.

The “unfamiliar territory” is a class.  It has been many years since I’ve taken an actual, honest-to-goodness college class.  I don’t have a college degree, but I have at different times taken college classes, but that was when I was muuuuch younger and mostly in regard to my job. 

One memorable exception was the time Linda talked me into taking a computer programming class “for fun” when computers first arrived on the scene.  I remember very little of it — I was so far in over my head I’m surprised there wasn’t some lifeguard somewhere thinking he was going to have to jump in to save me!

Anyway, I haven’t had the urge to take a class in quite a while.  But, I read an article in the newspaper about a year ago about a professor at this local university who was a very popular and successful teacher of writing.  This piqued my interest at the time, but I didn’t do anything about it.  Well, now that I’ve been writing a blog for a few months, learning a little more about writing suddenly seems very interesting.

So, I start a fiction writing class February 5 (not sure I would have chosen fiction, but that was what was offered this semester).  I ordered the book on-line (along with 4 other books about writing that looked interesting), and I can’t WAIT for them to arrive so that I can see what this is going to be like!

But, first things first.  Before I worry about learning, I have to decide on what my “look” will be for the class.  What do you think?  A no-nonsense spiral notebook and pen (the no-nonsense thing MIGHT be misleading)?  Or, should I go “retro” and take one of the splotchy black and white “essay notebooks” (“essay” seems verrrry appropriate!) and a #2 pencil?  OR, I COULD take an obviously USED spiral notebook (we have a few of those around here) and a short, chewed pencil with the eraser worn down, because I’m afraid a sparkly clean notebook and a fresh, newly sharpened pencil might just scream, “I DON’T GET OUT MUCH!” 

And how should I dress?  Suit and heels so that it looks like I’m still working (I could even rush in at the last minute to add to the look of “I’m so busy I’m just fitting this in between two very important meetings”)?  Or, should I go the other direction and get a sweatshirt that says something pithy about Grandma’s, confirming to everyone how old I am — and hope for a “sympathy” grade?  Or, for another option, I could add a beret, leggings and sneakers (and maybe bright red lipstick) to the aforementioned sweatshirt to make the statement “Yeah, I’m a grandma, but I’m an Artsy Fartsy Grandma!”

Have I mentioned that when I get nervous about something, I tend to obsess over meaningless details?  I do.  Will someone please just slap the back of my hand and say, “Stop it!” 

I’m thinking where I may need a little hand-holding (as opposed to hand-slapping), is when I have assignments to write.  If the timing is right, I could post my assignments and you could critique them for me BEFORE I turn them in!  Do you think that would be considered cheating?  I don’t think so either. 

You will, I’m sure, hear more about this.  Please just be ready to do some hand-holding and editing when it’s needed.

So, get in the car.  I’ll drive.  Let’s go for a ride!  


Words to Ponder

January 23, 2008

At Weightwatchers (my “support” group) yesterday morning, the leader had this statement on the flip chart.  Of course, she was using it in reference to changing eating habits, but I think they are words that can be applied to our lives in general:

Thoughts become words

Words become actions

Actions become habits.

When I think about this it makes me realize that there really are no “idle” thoughts.  Our thoughts are constantly changing, redefining, refining or affirming our beliefs and our view of our world and those around us, according to what we see and hear. 

And those thoughts do shape the words we use — whether carefully selected or just blurted out.  

And, doesn’t any action first start with a “game plan” whether formal or informal, composed of words? 

And, of course, any action, whether good or bad, done routinely, becomes a habit.

Certainly words I find interesting to ponder.


Save the Honey for the Biscuits!

January 22, 2008

We will occasionally have a server in a restaurant (usually a female) who will call us by “terms of endearment” — like sweety, dear, darlin’ and, most frequently, honey.

Tell me truthfully.  Is there someone reading this post who finds this charming?  If you do, I would appreciate hearing what good feeling this evokes.  I mean that seriously, because I am always put off by it, but maybe that’s not the case with everyone, and I really would like to see it more positively.

As I’m typing this, I think I’ve just had an “ah ha” moment.  Maybe it is about making you really look at them and see them as a person rather than just the arm that extends in front of you to place a plate, refill a glass or leave a check.  I do know that when this happens I DO look at the person’s face — it DOES get my attention.  Maybe I’ve answered my own question of, “Why the heck would a waitress think she should speak to customers with such familiarity?”  Maybe the thinking is that if you see the waitress as a person, you will feel more of a “connection,” and consequently tip more generously.

Unless someone can give me a good reason to think otherwise, my current thinking is — I wish they would just concentrate on giving good service and save the “honey” for the biscuits!