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If You’re Gonna Break The Law, Do It At Home

, , , , | Learning | October 27, 2020

I’m a teacher in a somewhat “rough” area. Try as we might, we can’t always convince our students to stop hanging out with people who might get them into trouble.

I’m a female. When I’m not in school, I look nothing like my “teacher” appearance. In school, I look like a stereotypical librarian: professional clothes, my hair up in a bun, glasses, the whole nine yards. On the weekends, I wear T-shirts, a denim jacket, leggings or sweatpants, and my hair down to the middle of my back.

One weekend, I’m out running errands and decide to get lunch from my favorite cafe. I take my lunch out to a city park, find a bench, and start eating and browsing on my phone. From across the park, I hear a group of about seven or eight teens and young adults laughing and joking. I don’t pay any attention to them until it becomes clear that they are trying to get my attention.

Boy #1: “Hey, pretty lady. How about you share your lunch with us?”

Boy #2: “Yeah, pretty girl like you doesn’t need that much food. We can help you finish whatever you don’t eat.”

The group carries on for a few minutes, trying harder and harder to get a rise out of me, but I ignore them. After a few minutes, the group gives up and sits down at a picnic table near me, and I start smelling something that I haven’t smelled since college. I finally look over to the group, and they are passing around and smoking a plant-based drug, and they’re also passing around a bottle of alcohol.

I make eye contact with one of the teenage girls and recognize her as one of my best students in class. As soon as we make eye contact, she also recognizes me. In total shock, she blurts out my name and starts begging me not to get her in trouble.

Unfortunately, another park patron had already called police on the group for their drug and alcohol use. I had to identify my student to the police, along with some of the other young people who had been in my classes before dropping out or getting too old to graduate.

All of the young people were charged for smoking the drug and for public alcohol consumption, both of which are illegal in our city. Those who were not of age also received citations for underage alcohol consumption.

Of course, I had to report my student to the school principal, and she was given in-school suspension for a week. The principal wanted to suspend her out of school, but I argued that that would only drive her back to the same group of troublemakers and that it would be better for her to be in school, away from them.

When the girl was allowed back to class, she came in during my free hour to apologize for her behavior and to thank me for helping to reduce her school punishment. We had a heartfelt conversation about choosing the right people to surround yourself with, and so far, she has stayed out of trouble. I don’t know if she still hangs out with that group outside of school, but I really hope she doesn’t.

A Small Gift From Across The Sea

, , , , , | Related | October 19, 2020

This takes place during the prehistoric days before a global health crisis. I’m an American ex-pat living in Barcelona, about ten years after high school graduation. Because I can’t afford to go home every year, I get into the habit of having a tourist day on my birthday.

The week before my birthday, my mom calls me to chat. Near the end of the talk, she casually asks where I’m planning to go for my birthday. I mention the famous park I’m going to, designed by an extremely Modernist architect. We say our goodbyes.

On my birthday, I’m walking around the park at noon. Near the museum, I see a group of teenagers and an adult chaperone. As I go into the building, I hear their accent — American, from the Midwest, like me. That’s not that unusual, since the park is a big tourist area. I glance up and see the chaperone’s face. She looks slightly familiar, so I focus a little harder. I think I recognize her and I step closer.

Me: “Excuse me. I know this sounds odd, but is that a Midwestern accent I hear? I grew up in Wisconsin.”

Chaperone: “Yes! We’re actually from Wisconsin, too. These kids are from my Spanish club. We take a trip to Spain every couple of years. When were you last home?”

Me: “A couple of years ago. Otherwise, I’ve been mainly here since graduation, ten years ago. Wait a second… Do you teach at [My Old High School]?”

Chaperone: *With a smirk* “I do…”

Me: “[Chaperone]?!”

We laugh and share a quick hug.

Chaperone: “There’s another face you might recognize.” 

We meander over to a display where a young teen girl is standing. The girl hears us and turns around, a giant grin on her face.

Me: “[NIECE]?!”

We hug tight, and then I walk around the park with them, catching up with my niece. I get permission from her teacher to kidnap her for supper. BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER.

I called my mom the next day, and the first words out of her mouth were, “Were you surprised?” The brats in my family had this set up for weeks!

This story is part of our Feel Good roundup for October 2020!

Read the next Feel Good roundup story!

Read the Feel Good roundup for October 2020!

We’d Gladly Watch A Movie About These Two!

, , , , , , | Friendly | September 24, 2020

I’ve worked with several rescue dogs over the years and have had a lot of negative experiences with other dog owners, especially working with reactive dogs. When I started a business working with dogs, I braced for these experiences to become commonplace.

They have not. I have a few complaints about some of the owners I have worked with, but this little story isn’t about those.

I am out with my favourite dog, an incredibly friendly, energetic, and happy cocker spaniel who I’ll call Miss Fluff. I’ve taken Miss Fluff to a park and she’s desperate for me to get the ball out and play with her. She’s glued to my feet as I do so — it’s a ball on a rope — and neither of us see the newcomer come around the corner until he’s joined her: a lovely, big chocolate lab, curious about the ball. Miss Fluff doesn’t care about him, only the ball.

The owners turn the corner, see us, and IMMEDIATELY call him off. He listens, but I call over that she’s friendly and they give him permission to come back over.

Me: “Will he chase the ball if I throw it for her?”

Miss Fluff is positively vibrating with excitement.

Owner: “Oh, yes. We’ll get out of your hair; don’t worry.”

Me: “Well, I was wondering if we should let them have a little race?”

Owner: “Oh, he’ll win. He’s much bigger than her and he loves to play fetch!”

So, to find out, I threw the ball. It went soaring across the field and Miss Fluff was after it like a shot, the lab hard on her tail. It was close, but she snatched the ball up ahead of him! The lab was having none of it, and he grabbed the end of the rope, and they happily ran back carrying it together.

The other owner and I laughed and agreed to call it a draw, before he went on and the lab obediently followed when called. Sadly, I’ve never seen them again in that area, but the memory still makes me smile, and moments like that have made up for the more inconsiderate and inattentive owners!

This story is part of our Feel Good roundup for September 2020!

Read the next Feel Good roundup story!

Read the Feel Good roundup for September 2020!

Do You Even Skate, Karen?

, , , , , , | Friendly | September 19, 2020

My friends and I are at a local lake park. It is fully fenced and you need a key to get in. The key is given out by the homeowners’ group and you have to live there to have one. The park is maintained 100% by a fee taken by the HOA. The fence is ten feet tall and topped with razor wire; these richies really take their muddy lake park seriously.

The park is about sixty by two hundred feet, with a little beach on a small rural lake. The park “belongs” to probably thirty or forty different homes. We are the only people in the park.

There are six of us and we are sitting at a table about a hundred feet into the park, away from the fence, eating and working on DnD sheets, when we hear screaming. I am the “speaker” for my group of friends — we are all about twenty, and they are art/stem students and I am a 6’9″ security guard — so I go up to this middle-aged couple.

When they see only I am coming, they start FREAKING OUT. The man is standing with fists at his side screaming, and the woman is doing this weird dance, making gesturing motions and using the “threatening white lady singsong” voice.

The rest of the group follows but stays back twenty feet.

Karen: *Clapping her hands and smiling* “Okay, time to go! Come on! Go, GO, GO!”

Me: “Is there a problem?”

Karen: *Smiling bright* “You know you can’t be here! You know that!” *Big smile and clap* “Time to go!”

Me: “We can be here. She—” *points to my girlfriend* “—lives here, and we have the key.” *Shows the key*

We have the locked gate to the park right between us and they aren’t making any attempt to come in.

Karen: “Where did you get that?! Doesn’t matter! Let’s go!” *Clapping* “Can’t have you here; you know you can’t be here! My kids play here; we can’t have that!” *Smiles*

Me: “No. We can be here. We aren’t leaving.”

Karen: *Face immediately falls* “Don’t talk to me that way. Get out now. NOW, NOW, NOW!” *Clapping but no longer smiling*

Me: “No. We are here in the middle of the day, not causing problems. We have a key and ID showing we can be here. Do you have a key?”

Karen: “I don’t need a key to tell you to leave! I’m telling you to go! NOW!”

She keeps clapping rapidly at the group behind me and making “come here” gestures with both hands.

The husband appears to be attempting to play “bad cop,” arms crossed over a puffed chest, chin up, watching me through sunglasses.

I speak to my longtime girlfriend, who is the resident here.

Me: “Hey, honey. You allowed here? You want to stay?”

She nods without saying anything to this. Karen’s eyes go to her and narrow. Sadly, this is where things go bad.

Karen: “Oh, really, you live here? You sure about that? You sure you’re allowed here?”

Her smile comes back wider than ever and she pulls out her phone with 911 pre-dialed and shows us.

Karen: “Want to explain it to the police, honey?” *Big smile and direct eye contact*

This is 2005 or ‘06 in a rather rich white neighborhood, and my girlfriend is obviously Middle Eastern. She backs down immediately because, to her, truth doesn’t help here. These people don’t appear to even live in the neighborhood, but she’s sure the cops would take their side anyway.

So, Karen is wiggling her phone at us and waggling her eyebrows. I really, REALLY want to push back on this, because I feel like I could handle the police. Police interaction is part of my daily job as security, and at that age, I foolishly think it would matter. But my friends are really freaked out about the police, so we pack up while the couple stands there smiling, clapping, and sometimes calling out, “Hurry up!”

They wait until we leave and start following us back to my girlfriend’s house. The lady’s phone is out and still pre-dialed. I vividly remember her holding the phone in front of her, displaying it to us whenever we look back at them, with her thumb hovering over the call button the whole way back.

Karen: “Aw, you’re good kids. Thanks for doing the right thing. You’ll understand someday why you need to keep your neighborhood safe! Thanks for listening to us!”

They repeated similar things the whole way back. Then, they stood at the bottom of the driveway and stared us down until we went in the front door and then they both smiled and waved. The husband then took out a small camera and took photos of the house and mailbox, and individual pictures of the license plates for the four cars in the driveway.

That Mom Must Be Dog Tired

, , , , , , , | Friendly | September 18, 2020

It is a pleasant day and my mothers group and I have taken our kids to the park. We’re on our way back to the house for lunch when we come across a stray dog which is determined to rumble with my dog.

With no owner in sight, we manage to separate the dogs, get back to my house, calm the dog down, and put him in the garage with some water.

I start messaging the number on the dog’s collar.

Me: “Hi! My name’s [My Name]. I found your dog on [Road] in [Town]. He’s okay. We just have him in the garage having a drink of water.”

Reply: “Which one?”

I express to my friends that that was not quite the kind of response I was expecting, having found their family pet, but I continue.

Me: “His collar says his name is Jesse. He’s black and white.”

Reply: “Okay.”

I talk again with my friends about the weird reply and they all egg me on to just call the pound and tell the owner to go there. I think about it but I’m kind of intrigued now, and I want the best for the dog, so I keep going.

Me: “When do you think you can come and collect him?”

Reply: “I’m not sure.”

Again, my friends think this was a ridiculous response and start looking up the numbers for animal control when my phone rings from an unknown number.

Me: “Hello?”

Woman: “Hi! I am so, so sorry. I’m the owner of the dog you found. I left my phone at home today and my twelve-year-old was answering the messages. She just called me and read the conversation out. I’m so sorry; you must think us very rude. I’m just leaving work at [Location] now to come and collect the dog. Is that okay? Thank you so much for looking after him!”

She arrived soon after and collected her dog and gave me a box of chocolates. She had a sulky looking pre-teen in the car with her who looked like she had just gotten a bollocking. Poor kid.