Last week I witnessed or heard about some things that were, well, out of the ordinary.
Our younger daughter Alyssa, who is an ace Human Resources person (Your Neighborhood H.R. Lady, as she likes to style herself) was sharing with me some of the answers employees put for their emergency contact. She said that some people put 9-1-1. That same afternoon I was at a doctor’s office and overheard a man registering as a new patient. The receptionist was very kind and patient with him since he seemed to have some trouble understanding some of the questions.
“Who should we put down for an emergency contact?” she asked.
“No,” she told him, “someone we can contact in case of an emergency.”
“Honey,” he replied, “there ain’t no one.”
I thought it sad.
Then our local commuter rail, the VRE (Virginia Railway Express) was delayed as much as five hours Wednesday afternoon when someone left a box of unidentified body parts on or near the tracks. It turned out to be animal body parts. How many times does some Kentucky Fried Chicken mess up so many people’s afternoon?
Then there was the inconsolable lad in the three-year-old preschool room where I was installing coat hooks Friday with my cordless drill and other implements of destruction. The boy started crying when I walked in the room carrying my tools. His kind and expert teachers asked him if he was afraid of me. He said no, and kept crying, saying he wanted his mom, who was teaching across the hall. One of the teachers thought the noise of the drill frightened him so she brought him over and I let him run it. When they moved away from me, he set up a howl again. After I was nearly finished, they gave up, having made a noble effort for over an hour to quiet the child. They took him over to his mom and came back, saying she told them that he was afraid of tools.I felt bad, but none of us knew. I could have come back later.
I don’t blame the boy; each of us, for the most part, is afraid of something. I had a student who, as a high school junior, was terrified of clowns. A teacher dressed as a clown (there’s a story there but I won’t tell it here) came into my room to ask me something, and the nice young woman freaked out. She was so bad off I had to have a friend take her to the clinic where I understand she finally calmed down. But it was a reminder of what fear can do to us.
Myself, I’m afraid of dogs because one bit me in third grade. But that’s another story for another day.