Thankfully, It Is A Lone Wolf

, , , , , | Learning | December 12, 2019

(My family owns a ranch that is secluded but is a well-known tourist attraction for our Halloween and Christmas attractions. From January to June, we offer free tours and shows for schools, all about how we work together with animals. My family is also known for rehabilitating animals, and those who cannot be released back into the wild act as our “animal ambassadors.” My youngest son is sixteen at the time of this incident when we are putting on one of our outdoor shows for a school. Several of our animals are animal actors and have been trained from a young age, and that includes the animal in this story: our timber wolf named Sitka. Sitka is in his show harness, which we hold onto when we show him. My son brings Sitka out from his holding pen and into the outdoor ring we use for shows and goes through the safety spiel.)

Son: “This is Sitka. He was brought to us from the illegal pet trade. His former owners claimed that they didn’t know he was a wolf and tried to pass him off as a Malamute, instead. He came to us when he was about a year and a half old; unfortunately, he had already been habituated to living with people by then. So now, he works in the movies and here as one of our animal ambassadors.”

Nine-Year-Old Student: *raises hand* “Can I pet him?”

Son: “No, I don’t think he’d be comfortable with someone other than myself, my dad, or my brother handling him or touching him.”

Nine-Year-Old Student: *dejectedly* “Why not?”

Son: “Because he could bite you. He doesn’t know you and could become scared and bite you. His bite is much worse than his bark.”

Nine-Year-Old Student: *stands up and starts walking to the ring* “But he’s just a big dog!” *starts trying to climb over the fence between the seats and the ring*

(At this moment, Sitka’s attention turns to the student, who stops when he notices the wolf looking at him. This is when I arrive with one of our other animal ambassadors and notice what is going on. I try to flag down the teacher, who seems to be absorbed in her phone instead of keeping an eye on her students. I walk over to the fence, looking down to the student.)

Me: “If you want to pet the wolf, it’ll be the last thing you do. Stay on the other side and you can maybe pet the snake; is that a good trade-off?”

Student: *thinks for a moment before climbing back to his seat*

(I’m amazed that the teacher didn’t notice anything that was going on during the entire show, and only addressed her students when it was time to move onto the next activity.)

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Dropping You Off In The Hotel

, , , , , , | Learning | December 5, 2019

My son is in his high school band. They were on a band trip from Pittsburgh to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He was sending texts about how bad their bus driver was. She couldn’t get out of the high school parking lot without trouble. At a rest stop, she went in the wrong way to a restaurant.

A few hours later, he texted that everyone was all right, but they were in an accident. One person got hit with a small piece of safety glass when a window broke, but she was fine. The driver was in a tight space and couldn’t turn around, as she was having a very tough time of it. My wife texted asking how close he was to the hotel. His answer was, “Touching it.”

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Losing A Student Almost Makes Them Lose It

, , , , , , , | Learning | May 18, 2019

During my junior year, I go on a trip to San Diego with one of the clubs from my school, which is in the Chicago area. After our flight lands and we arrive at our hotel, we decide to get lunch at a restaurant in Old Town then spend the afternoon sightseeing in the area.

The hotel offers a shuttle for guests but will need to make four trips due to the size of our group. I am in the second group, and we are dropped off at the intersection where the first group is waiting. There are some stands a few feet from the intersection that have interesting crafts for sale, so I decide to browse while we wait for the last two groups to get there.

I finish making a purchase – which takes me less time than a single round trip to the hotel, let alone two – only to turn around and discover that everyone is gone. Turns out the teachers found out that the shuttle could drop off directly at the restaurant, so the last two groups went there while the first two walked over, not realizing I wasn’t with them.

Thankfully, there are kiosks with maps nearby and I remember the name of the restaurant, so I quickly find my way there. As I am walking up to the front door, one of my teachers is walking out with her cell phone in hand and, seeing me, says, “I was just about to call you!” I don’t have a cell phone, which I tell her. “Then what’s this number?” I check her phone and, sure enough, it is my number – my home number.

And that’s how I narrowly avoided giving my parents a heart attack from 2000 miles away.

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On Jewish Holidays You Get The World

, , , , | Learning Related | April 28, 2019

(During my fifth year in high school — age 16 or 17 — I go along on a class trip to Prague. It is quite boring and hot. At one point, we are supposed to visit a Jewish cemetery, but the teacher asks us:)

Teacher: “Do you want to go?”

(Pretty much everyone says no, and we are allowed to do some shopping. I see a trinket I want, but I want to sleep the night over it and get it the next day, as we’ll have some free shopping time then, as well. That evening, my classmates go to a bar or disco. I’m not sure, because I am the only one who returns to the hotel — I’m an oddball and not very social — and I have a good night’s rest. The next morning, I notice how almost all my classmates are hungover, silent, sleepy… and the teacher is furious! It turns out that some of my classmates got so drunk, they banged on several doors in the hotel, including the teachers’, and the bus driver that would have to take us home that afternoon. Turns out I’m a deep sleeper; I didn’t notice a thing. The teacher is so furious, he yells at us all and the free shopping time is cancelled. We’ll go visit the Jewish Cemetery and then head home. I know it is of no use to argue and resign myself to not being able to get the trinket — I had decided to get it after all — for my dad. When we reach the cemetery, it turns out to be a Jewish holiday and it is closed. We get free shopping time instead, and I hurry to the shop where I saw the trinket. When home, I give the glass globe to my dad, who suddenly falls silent and says with misted eyes:)

Dad: “How did you know?”

Me: “Know what?”

Dad: “When I was born, there was a globe on my birth announcement. I always wanted to travel the world, but couldn’t.”

(I didn’t know what to say, but I realized that if it hadn’t been a Jewish holiday, I couldn’t have given this gift to my dad. It might be more than silly, but to me, it felt like divine intervention. And for those who wonder: since I moved out, he has taken my mom to Egypt and Costa Rica, so he’s a tiny globetrotter after all.)

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These Boots Were Made For Beeping

, , , , , , | Learning | February 11, 2019

In middle school, my class takes a field trip to a major government library to research a history project. It’s worth mentioning that at the time, I am a bit of a punk-y tomboy. They have some very sensitive and valuable documents inside, so everyone is required to go through a metal detector before they can enter.

Most of the class goes through with only minor hiccups, like forgotten change or house keys. Then I go through. The detector beeps, and I’m confused because I only have a cheap necklace on that I was sure wouldn’t set it off, but I remove it anyway and try again. Again, the machine beeps.

This prompts me to have to go through every pocket I have — quite a few as I like wearing cargo pants — and after a few more failures I even leave my emptied coat with the guard. Still no luck. Finally, they break out a wand to try to pinpoint the issue. The wand is silent until they get to my shoes, where it starts beeping madly, and I realize with horror that I completely forgot that the boots I’m wearing are steel-toed. The guards immediately break out laughing, as no one even considered the idea that petite, blond, thirteen-year-old me would be wearing men’s work boots.

I wasted about fifteen minutes of everyone’s time in the end, and my classmates teased me for weeks about being a shoe-bomber. At least they didn’t take my boots from me!

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