Bridging The Facts

, , , , , | Learning | December 6, 2018

(Our school is taking a trip to New York City, and the teacher in charge has hired a local tour guide to come onto our bus to tell some facts about landmarks. While talking about the Brooklyn Bridge, the guide brings up the architect, John Roebling.)

Guide: “Now, does anyone by chance happen to know where John Roebling is from?”

Literally Everyone On The Bus: “Saxonburg, Pennsylvania!”

Guide: “No, that’s not right. Hmm… I can’t remember, either. Oh, well. Moving on.”

Teacher: “No, they are right and you are wrong. He is from Saxonburg, and that is a fact. Our school is in Saxonburg; our park is named ‘Roebling Park’ after him, and they even have a model of the Brooklyn Bridge in it. If there is one thing we know, it’s where he’s from.”

Inattentive Lifeguards Breathe A Sign Of Relief, As One Drowning Per Pool Session Is Now Acceptable

, , , , , , | Learning | November 14, 2018

When I was ten years old, the summer program I attended went on a field trip to a local indoor waterpark. I tried using a feature where one walked across on lily-pad-like flotation devices while also using a net above, but ended up slipping off and getting trapped underneath one of them.

The worst part was that the lifeguard — nor anyone else, for that matter — seemed not to notice, and the other kids continued to walk on the lily pads, despite my predicament. After what felt like forever, I freed myself, but due to embarrassment, I said nothing about it and went to do something else.

Ten minutes later, the summer program staff announced we were going back to the site early — we’d been there for only an hour — due to inattentive lifeguards, which made me wonder what else had happened, since none of them asked if I was okay.

Field Trips Save Childhoods

, , , , , , | Learning | October 13, 2018

In elementary school, there were two kids from the same household that we all thought were “weird.” Both brother and sister were rail thin to the point where their heads looked more like skulls wearing tight skin, and the sister was losing hair. I didn’t recognize it as a sign of abuse. (In addition the fact that I was a child, my disability causes me health issues that look like neglect.)

There were always bruises on them, and they had black eyes, and rope burns on their wrists. They were absent all the time. The boy would frequently lose his temper and kick and bite. The girl was timid at times, loud and socially awkward at others. Both had horrible grades and the boy couldn’t read, while the girl read at a low level.

We did isolate both as a result. People were afraid to talk to the sister, even. Some hated and bullied them. I wasn’t very popular, either — my bullies weren’t as bad but I was afraid the bullies would join forces — so I stayed as far away as possible.

In fourth grade, we had a field trip coming up. My mom volunteered to chaperone it. They had so many volunteers that they split the class into groups of two. I was absent the day the groups were decided, so I got stuck with the sister. I complained to my mother in private. She told me that I should just give the girl a chance.

Half the kids went by bus, while the ones whose parents had volunteered were driven. We met up with the sister and everyone split up. Being on our own was actually really nice. I realized she was weird the same way I was. She was so happy getting to explore the Cultural Center, saying she never got to go anywhere but school and church. We had a lot of fun together.

Looking back, I don’t think Mom enjoyed the trip as much as I did. She kept asking things that I now realize were red flag questions. When Mom drove me home, she asked me a few more questions. Mom spent a lot of time on the phone when we got home.

I didn’t see the siblings at school after that. The teacher made a comment about them “changing homes,” but wouldn’t explain. If you’ll allow me to toot my mom’s horn, I’m really proud of her. The first time she saw this kid, she knew, she verified, and she took action. It’s like that old slogan: if you see something, say something.


Don’t Lecture Him About His Forgetfulness

, , , | Romantic | October 3, 2018

(My husband and I just had an adventure that was 35 years in making. He is smart, but scatter-brained, and often forgets things overnight. Before he had a smartphone and me to keep schedules, things were tough for him. When he was in grammar school, his class was scheduled for a field trip to an astronomical observatory. My husband, an astronomy geek, was looking forward to it, but he forgot and went to normal lessons, while the rest of class was already on the train. Well, at least everyone had a good laugh about it. Then he went to high school… and the scenario repeated itself to the last detail. So, thirty years later we decide to treat ourselves and go on a trip, ending at the observatory. My husband is ecstatic, despite a bout of migraine, and keeps repeating that he finally is going to see the lecture. So, we buy the tickets, sit in the lecture hall, the chair rests lower themselves, lights go dim… and my husband falls asleep, waking up after the lecture, rested and refreshed, but none the wiser about the lecture.)

Husband: “Why didn’t you wake me?”

Me: “I tried. But honestly, you clearly needed a nap.”

Husband: “Well, I am clearly cursed. God doesn’t want me to see the lecture.”


Husband: “What was it about? C’mon, people will ask me and I will look like idiot! Again!”

Biology Requires No Translation

, , , , | Learning | June 19, 2018

(It is several years ago in high school, on a small class trip from the USA to the Mediterranean. We have just arrived at the Vatican and are enjoying the tour when I notice a tiny spot on my best friend’s jeans; she has started her period, and is not prepared. At this point in her life she is incredibly shy. I discreetly point this out to her, and her face goes pale. We immediately excuse ourselves to the bathroom where she enters the stall to try and salvage what she can while I start to ask other patrons if they have spare pads or tampons. They each shake their head if they speak English, or ignore me with a sad shake of their head if they don’t. Desperate, I head out the door, and find a little Italian cleaning lady with her cart. I clearly look as though I have something to ask, so she looks at me, and I take a shot.)

Me: “Excuse me. Do you have a pad, or tampon?”

Lady: “…?”

Me: “For, um… for a period?”

Lady: *gives me an apologetic look, but still clearly has no idea what I’m asking*

(Not being as shy as my friend, I throw caution to the wind, put on the most desperate expression I can manage and point to my crotch. The lady’s eyes go big, and for a moment I’m horrified that I have offended her. She starts nodding vigorously, and laughs.)

Lady: “Si, yes!”

(Relieved, I returned to my friend with a pad, who thanked me profusely. She was mortified but amused by what I did, and she tied her jacket around her waist until we could get back to the bus and use her Tide pen. Today, I still say to her, “Remember when I broke the language barrier to save your jeans by pointing at my crotch? You’re welcome.”)

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