Jack in the Box Church

A couple of Sundays ago I sat in a pew in the back of a church. During my childhood, Mother made us sit in the second row from the front, and because of that, I plant my fanny in the back of any church that I enter.

At the beginning of the service and throughout it, folks were up and out of the sanctuary. Some kids left alone; parents accompanied others; even adults made exits during that one hour session. The events left me flabbergasted and wondering what was going on.

Both children and young adults had trouble making through the hour without leaving. Perhaps the children suffer from some rare disease that doesn’t allow them to hold their water. That problem usually is one that afflicts us older men, and we seek medical help to alleviate the malady.

Maybe these people suffer from ADHD. According to some authorities, such a condition prevents individuals from staying plugged in for extended periods of time. Because they aren’t able to make it through an hour, these people rise in the middle of a service and leave. However, before long they reappear, usually with their heads bowed and smiles smeared across their faces.

More than likely, the younger generations have difficulty remaining in one place because of conditions of their worlds. That first includes television shows. A typical thirty minute show has twenty-two minutes of programming and eight minutes of advertising, most of it in thirty second slots. Viewers attention to a program is interrupted sixteen times in a half hour show. No wonder folks can’t sit still long.

Video games, computers, and communication equipment all offer highly addictive sources of entertainment. Other things like church, school, and even casual conversations with friends and family lack the “rush” of action, so young people lose interest in them quickly.

We who have several years behind us remember a different behavior in church. Jim and I survived church services, barely. We never spent time in the nursery. Instead, our parents plopped us down on the pew and dared us to misbehave.

Of course, sitting two little boys side by side is just asking for things to happen. People who used to sing in the choir remembered us as being two who looked for things to get into. We, on the other hand, slid down in the pew because we felt that those singers were staring at us.

On too many occasions, one of us had our “tickle boxes” turned over. That meant we swallowed and choked on laughs that, if loosed in the sanctuary, would have resulted in immediate and severe punishment. Sometimes, Daddy grabbed one of us and plunked us down on the other side of the pew.

One woman, Mrs. Gault, always caused us grief. We knew talking was forbidden, but this lady would sit beside us and yak. She’d offer peppermint lifesavers during prayer time. We’d shake our heads “no,” but the woman kept on until we took one to silence her, but then we worried about being in trouble for taking candy.

The biggest deterrent to our misbehavior was a one-line whisper: “You’ve had it when we get home.” That death sentence meant a spanking awaited us as soon as our feet crossed the threshold at home. Like so many times throughout our lives, we refrained from doing things because the thrill wasn’t worth the ensuing pain that was inflicted by a belt or switch or paddle.

These days, parents don’t keep children in check. Instead, they believe that children should be allowed to be freer spirits than we were allowed to be. That’s why they can’t sit still for an hour. Instead, they become jacks-in-the-boxes at any place that requires them to sit still for more than ten minutes. I wonder how they’ll do in college lectures. For now, I supposed the good lord will forgive them.

Backpacks and Nifty Notebooks

At church this past Sunday the minister called all children and their pack backs and teachers armed with their grade books to the front and said prayers for a successful school year. It was a nice moment that softened the realization that summer’s end is here. It’s interesting to look at the difference in school supplies that kids need these days.

One kindergarten mom posted on Facebook the following: “[I] just bought 2 bottles of hand sanitizer, 2 rolls of paper towels, 6 boxes of Kleenex, 2 containers of Clorox wipes, 1 white t-shirt size adult S, 5 boxes of baby wipes, and every size of Ziploc baggie.”

Whew! What a sight to witness as little ones walk into their first day of school with a large cardboard box filled with supplies that promote good health. Glaringly absent were any items that might be used in subjects. Hey, the kids might not learn a single thing, but they’ll be able to fight off every germ that dares cross the classroom’s threshold.

Older students want a new pack back every year, even though last year’s model is still in one piece and sturdy enough for the abuse handed out by young people. The new models need enough room in the main compartment to haul an apartment of furniture. That’s because kids tote all sorts of “necessaries” for school, yes, things like water bottles, hand-held games, a bag filled with make-up, and lunch. Oh, books need to have a place since students never uses lockers to store them. Those young folks would rather risk permanent back injuries than to make a stop to exchange textbooks.

Several smaller compartments should be available on the outside areas of the pack. There kids stow electronic equipment. Hey, it’s a well-known fact that no student can survive without a cell phone. No one knows when an important phone call might come in, one that confirms a weekend date or a work schedule. And texting is a “must-do activity” for the younger generation. In addition, pockets to house iPods, electronic games, and chargers for them are needed.

How things have changed.

In a simpler time, kids had different wants for school. A Nifty Notebook served most needs. Some whose families were better off got Trapper Keepers, the envy of all other kids. A big pack of Blue Horse notebook paper, along with several new pencils, the big fat ones for first graders, and a couple of Bic pens rounded out supplies. A Pink Pearl eraser was considered an extra for which students were grateful.

Brown bags or metal boxes held lunches of peanut butter and jelly or bologna and Velveeta sandwiches. Some kids ate school lunches, and others begged for money for special meals during Thanksgiving and Christmas times. Students shared lockers and kept books and other school items in them, and somehow they managed to drop by them between classes without arriving tardy to classes.

School has changed plenty. Before, kids were excited to begin a new year. The summer kept them from seeing friends on a daily basis, and activities and transportation were limited. A sense of returning to “normal” accompanied the first days of classes. New supplies were few in number for most everyone, just like new clothes consisted only of a pair of jeans, a couple of shirts, and a pair of shoes.

Today, kids get all sorts of supplies, and too many are careless with them. At the end of each year, no fewer than twenty backpacks will be abandoned in lockers or classrooms. Students use technical gadgetry to aid their learning, a far cry from the days of using paper and pencil only.
Still, school returns just like the seasons. The roads are jammed with buses and mini-vans. Teachers await student arrivals with weeks of lesson plans. The new will wear off and excitement will wane the same as daylight hours of fall days. Classrooms that brought so much excitement just a few weeks earlier will offer torturous homework assignments. Students will long for the days of summer where no homework or bedtimes cramped their styles. Bathing suits and shorts will replace backpacks and Nifty Notebooks.

Krystal--The Real Economic Indicator

I’m feeling rather punk. As if we didn’t know already how deep our nation’s economic woes were, the local paper drove the point home like a railroad spike to the skull. In case anyone missed the story, I’ll report it in a shortened version.

Krystal is looking to sell itself to a new owner. The corporate leaders say the company is “looking for a way to deliver an attractive exit for current shareholders who have been so supportive.”
Huh? What’s the deal with making things “comfortable” for shareholders? Although not a single share is in the Rector vault, I’m not at all comfortable. Looking to unload a company that represents one of the main food groups for southerners shouldn’t bring ease in anyone’s life. Krystal has 364 franchises in 11 states. Before long, a new owner will take over, and I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that they’ll start a wholesale shutdown of stores. Before long, finding a Krystal might be as difficult as finding a Blue Circle or Jiffy.

The selling of such a hallowed institution is indicative of the problems in the USA. The two founders, Rody Davenport, Jr. and J. Glenn Sherrill, opened the first store. Yes, that’s right; they set up shop in the middle of The Depression. The first customer walked in and ordered six Krystals and a cup of coffee and paid thirty-five cents. The restaurant gave folks who were down on their luck a chance to eat a filling meal at a fair price.
Fast forward nearly eighty years, and our country is so screwed up that a business that began in the worst economic situation of our history is on the auction block. More than 7000 employees are shaking in their boots as they worry over the company’s future and whether or not they’ll be out of a job soon.

Since my high school years, Krystal has been an important part of my life. On those nights when too much libation passed my lips, I’d often find myself sitting on a stool in a Krystal and ordering breakfast. Eggs and bacon and toast soaked up enough grease to clog every artery, but the thoughts of those foods late at night still make my mouth water.

As young adults, my two brothers and I would sit around the kitchen table at Mother’s house and talk until the early morning hours. Then we loaded into a car and drove to Clinton Highway where we’d buy two or three bags of Krystals and fries. Only after eating no fewer than half a dozen of them did we make our ways to bed.

I’ve passed my love for those gut bombs to son Dallas, and he often makes a stop at the Krystal less than a mile from his house (lucky dog). What’s more, the boy lives in Chattanooga, the home base for the company, as well as for another famous food company—Moonpie.

The past few years have brought about a change in my eating habits. Acid reflux dictates much of my diet. However, occasionally, I risk the malady and run out for a few little hamburgers. A nickel won’t buy one anymore; prices have risen to an average of seventy-nine cents for each of the little grease balls. A bowl of chili also sometimes finds its way in my bag of food. Before lying down for the night, I pop a Nexium and say a prayer that the rumbling volcano in my gut won’t erupt.

Yes, I’m plenty worried about the country and our economic well-being. If the creators of the original “slider” struggles in this environment, the light at the other end of the recession tunnel is no larger than a pinpoint. The time has come for our so-called leaders in the legislative branch to forget about partisan politics and ideology. Govern so that Americans have jobs and a fair shake. Make sure every individual pays his fair share in support of the government. That way, all of us will be able to afford a bag of Krystals if the restaurants are still open.