Moronic Motorists

The other day an elderly woman lost her cool. She decided the best way to solve her dilemma was to bump an officer who was directing traffic at Hardin Valley. It’s no surprise to me that the incident occurred. In years gone by, I’ve been locked up with angry drivers at schools.

I always volunteered to take the first tour of bus duty when the school year began. That way it was out of the way, and I didn’t have to worry about forgetting the chore or stand outside in the cold weather. As many as a dozen other staff members and I took positions along the drive in front of the school.

The traffic began snarling a few minutes after 8:00 a.m. Drivers waited until the last possible minute to make their ways to school. The line snaked off campus and sometimes as far as a quarter of a mile. It was obvious that students were going to be tardy and their parents would be arriving late to work. That made already frayed nerves edgier.

We tried to keep cars moving. We waved parents to the far end of the drive, and there they could drop off their children. However, too many moms and dads didn’t want their babies to walk the extra 100 feet. They’d stop smack dab in front of the school, even though doing so was like clogging a sink drain. They didn’t care as long as their children weren’t inconvenienced.

Those people are the ones at whom I’d whistle and wave my arms. Sure, I had a disgusted look on my face when those parents acted so selfishly. Some of the “grown-ups” took exception to my actions. Dads would glare at me; moms would salute me with middle fingers. Even grandparents would mouth words at me as they drove by.
On one occasion, I barked at a mom to pull all the way down so that she didn’t block traffic. She complied, but not without glaring at me when she made the turn to leave. To my surprise, this female had pulled into a parking spot and returned to confront me.

While I don’t remember her exact words, it’s for sure that her sentences were filled with expletives and words that questioned my parentage. I continued directed traffic, but managed to tell this irate female to leave on at least three occasions. Not being able to take anymore virulence, I turned to this she-devil, put on my best furious face and told her to shut up, get in the car and go home. If she didn’t, I told her I would have the school officer handcuff her and haul her sorry fanny to jail.

It worked. The mother left, but not without one last tirade laced with profanities. The rest of my day was shot. Some of the toughest teaching days are due to crazy parents. The incident at Hardin Valley shows plenty of whacko’s are still out there.

If people don’t want to get caught in school traffic, why don’t they put their babies on the big yellow limousines that cruise the roads each morning and afternoon? It’s for sure school would run more smoothly if out-of-control drivers did so. The traffic problems would lessen, school employees wouldn’t worry about being verbally or physically attacked by an individual suffering from road rage.

Retired--Not Dead

Teachers returned to school for in-service training on August 10. I played golf. No, I’m not attempting to rub salt into any open wounds, but it is nice to be retired. Yet, retired isn’t exactly the right word. I’ve taken on other things that keep me busy and much more productive.

During the spring, my time was spent playing golf and sitting in front of a computer and writing columns, working on a book, and answering emails. I was out of bed at 6:30 a.m. when Amy got up. There were some guilty feelings associated with lying in the bed while my wife got ready for work.

It’s not clear to me, but somehow the day flew by, and I’d look up in shock at the time on the clock. Amy would ask what I did during the day, and the answer seemed to scream empty and unprofitable. Sure, I’d write between 2000 and 3000 words, but that shouldn’t have taken up the entire day.

Good fortune smiled on me when I received another chance to write for a paper. Since the first day, I’ve busier than a bird dog. Covering the news in Ball Camp, Cedar Bluff, Hardin Valley and Karns takes plenty of time. I am forever in search of a story. Instead of passing the morning reading the paper, working on the computer and watching “Judge Judy,” I hop in the car and travel to Sims Deli or the Karns Hardees. Groups of people are always there and sometimes give me leads on events in the area. I’ve taken in meetings and events and met plenty of new people, all who are more interesting than television personalities.

The other thing that’s happened is I accomplish so much more during the day. The “honey-do” list usually gets completed. I also can mow mine and my neighbor’s yard weekly without any trouble. Going to the grocery store is something I can do with ease.

The fact is a person has needs to keep busy when he or she retires. The picture that comes to mind with the mention of retirement is one of an older person passing his life away in a rocking chair. That kind of existence will kill anyone. Many people today, me included, are retiring from their careers at earlier ages.
Humans are created to be engaged. That means staying active in life’s happenings. Work sometimes is the key to emotional well being. It keeps people involved in something outside themselves. There’s a reason to get up in the morning. We’ve all heard stories about individuals who retire and go home only to die within a year. I’d say it’s because they weren’t busy enough.

I’m happy and thankful to be working. I don’t want any job to interfere with my golf time, but it’s for sure that Amy is glad to have me out of the house and to have things completed. Retirement should be called “retooling” these days as people find new interests and associations. Keeping active is the key. Hey, I’m retired, not dead!

Trusts Dog Instincts

Dogs are astute judges of character. Most can sniff the air and figure out if an individual is friend or foe. Their actions are based on that sense.

Our first dog was a Dalmatian. Pokey was an adult dog when Mother brought him home from a friend’s house. The dog stayed inside for a few days. When he hiked his leg on one of the plaster walls and flooded the hardwood floors, Pokey was exiled to the outside.

The dog was to be Mother’s pet, but in short order, twin brother Jim and I became Pokey’s masters, probably because we spent so much time outside together. The three of us were inseparable. On one occasion, Mother came outside to administer punishment to our backsides for transgressions we’d committed. She raised her arm to swat one bottom. Pokey stood up, eyed Mother, and growled. He could see that the thrashing was about to begin, and the dog had no intentions of letting it happen. Mother stopped, looked dumbfounded at the dog, and went back inside. It was the first and only time she suspended swift justice, and it was because Pokey sensed the hostility in the air.

Pokey II was another Dalmatian, a pup that a sociology professor at college gave me. He was Mother’s dog completely and fiercely protected her. On one occasion a neighbor stopped at her house to leave a wedding present for Amy and me. No one was home, and when the woman got out of the car, Pokey growled. She paid him no mind and walked to the door. After knocking without an answer, the neighbor reached for the handle of the screened door so that she could put the gift between it and the inside door. Pokey stood on his back feet, took the woman’s hand in his mouth, and pulled it from the knob. Then he again looked at her and growled. The lady decided to leave the present where it was and drive away as soon as possible.

Someone recently told me a story about a politician who unexpectedly stopped by a house in the Karns community. The man evidently knew the residents, and he pulled out of the community parade to visit. The resident’s dog, a usually gentle creature, spied the man, took about a second and a half to sniff the air, and then came after him. He retreated as quickly as possible. The story ended without the man being bitten or the dog being shot.

Perhaps we humans aren’t using our K-9 friends to their fullest potentials. We’ve picked plenty of leaders at all levels who haven’t turned out to be so good. Instead of primaries and campaigns that costs fortunes and wear on the nerves of voters, maybe we should line up those running for office and have half a dozen dogs of all breeds, as well as mutts, sniff each man or woman. If the dogs growl or take a plug out of a candidate, he or she would be removed from the ballot. Hey, it can’t lead to any worse choices than some we humans have made in passed elections.

September Is the Month for School to Begin

On the way home the other evening, I was listening to some of my CD’s when “See You in September” by the Happenings began playing. That group and the song in particular were favorites of mine. In fact, the summer of my freshman year in high school, my twin brother Jim, the boy across the street, Mike Mier, and I walked and thumbed our ways to Chilhowee Park to see them in concert. No, it wasn’t a smart thing to do, but we were young, foolish, and most of all, adventurous.

The song is about a couple who say must say good bye at the end of the school year. The boy sings that he’ll be alone each and every night and that he’ll write. He says they’ll be together again in September unless a summer love takes the girl away.

To me, it’s backwards to lose contact with a girlfriend over the summer, maybe during the rest of the year, but not for summer. Perhaps the song is about a college couple. Regardless, the title belongs to a different era—MINE.

In the good old days, school let out the first part of June. For the next three months, students escaped the confines of classrooms. They hung out at the pools, cruised the drive-in restaurants, and watched movies at the drive-in theater. School opened its doors the day after Labor Day. That’s in September. By then, kids were ready to get back to school. Some had grown weary of the summer activities; others were tired of working a summer job that usually included too much manual labor. It was time to get on with education—football and basketball games, sock-hops, and flirting. Oh, some were actually eager to return to the grind of homework and learning.

These days, summer isn’t much different from the rest of the year. Teens have access to vehicles that allow them to visit with each other all the time. When they are out of town, cell phones and computers keep them in touch with each other through Twitter and Facebook. School functions aren’t so important to today’s teens. The last several years that I taught high school, the only dance after a game occurred during homecoming.

Still, kids need a longer break from school. The demands on kids today are crushing. They are required to know more and score higher than any previous generation. A student must earn more than twenty credits for graduation, and then he or she must pass the state proficiency exam.

With all that’s laid upon their heads, it seems only fair that students be given a summer break that lasts until September. Move the school year so that kids don’t get out of school until June, and then let them escape until the dog days of August have past. That way, they too can enjoy the song “See You in September.”