Dumb Crooks Unlimited

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is CHA-CHING

Even Mr Webster with his zillion words couldn’t help me out with this one. CHA CHA is all I got from M-W and Lexico. So I’m going to guess that “cha-ching” is the noise a cash register makes opening and closing.

One night Theresa was working at Robin’s Donuts. Her job is normally to decorate the doughnuts, but also serve whoever comes in between 11pm and 6 am. Not usually a huge crowd.

This was a new store and we had a nice new computerized cash register, which was comprised f two parts. There was the computer keyboard that sat on the counter and had all the basic selections listed: coffees small, med + large, cappuccino, ice capp, milk, donut, 6 donuts, dozen, pop, sands, etc. The cash drawer nestled in its own slot under the counter, connected to the computer by wires. Hit ENTER and bingo — or CHA-CHING — the drawer popped open.

You get the picture. Well, some wanna-be thief came in at some indecently early hour that morning and ordered coffee. Theresa took his money and rang in the sale. When the till went CHA-CHING, he grabbed it and ran out, tearing off all the wires in his haste to be elsewhere

The police caught him red-handed not long after, walking down the street with our keyboard under his arm. No doubt headed someplace where he could open it and hear that delightful CHA-CHING as the loot spilled out.

Alas! The only sound he heard that morning was the click of handcuffs.

Some Types of Folly

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was FOLLY

Merriam-Webster defines folly as a lack of good sense or normal prudence and foresight, a foolish act or idea, or an excessively costly or unprofitable undertaking.

Some acts of folly bring a chuckle to those who hear of it. Like the young man who thought he’d rob a local pharmacy and get away with drugs — and hopefully some cash. He attempted to gain entrance to the building after the store closed Saturday evening by crawling in through an air vent — but he got stuck. A unique way to spend the weekend! When employees opened the store Monday morning they heard him calling for help, and called the police.

There’s bureaucratic folly. I considered it a bit of folly on my government’s part when they sent me not just one, but TWO letters telling me they’d overpaid me (in my pension) by $1.40 and that I should pay it back by cheque ASAP or they would “deduct the entire sum from your next pension cheque.”

I guess the notice was computer-generated; no human looked at it and said, “You know, it’s going to cost $1 for the stamp to send her this. And logically, is she going to spend $1 for a stamp and whatever for the cheque fee to pay us back? Will she suffer that much hardship if she gets $1.40 less on next month’s cheque? Should we just file this?”

Which is what I did with it. Common sense should prevail, don’t you think?

Today my thinking went to a different kind of folly. We each have one of our own, perhaps? I’m a pack rat. Would you call that a type of folly?

When we moved my mother-in-law in with us over twenty years ago, I inherited a lot of her smaller things, like the handcrafted item she’d made over the years. Mom crocheted and embroidered card table cloths, made doilies, etc., and I’ve kept these stored away, wanting to keep them nice. Thinking someday to pass them on to the grand-daughters.

But what happens to things stored away? They may fade, the fabric threads weaken along fold lines, creases form that never can be ironed out. Fabrics get musty; elastic may disintegrate as soon as it’s stretched, after being stored for years. So many stored things get damaged by smoke, storm, or insects. And then, when you go to pass them on, you realize that the younger generation has no memory of the great-grands who made those things. Mom’s things are precious to me because I knew and loved Mom.

Some things are worth storing and passing on as antiques, but I’ve realized it’s folly for me to store these things for years, seldom using and enjoying them myself for fear of stains or wear. Our children have more than enough things of their own to store.

Image by Annie Spratt — Unsplash

One Cop Making a Difference

Dear friends, especially American friends,

Every day Pocket offers me a number of news articles, or headlines, to tempt me to read the latest news and views. Well, I just read an article that I wholeheartedly applaud and want to pass on the link, in case you’re interested.

These days we’re inclined to shake our heads when we read the news and wonder how things will ever right themselves again. But here’s one man offering a sensible idea about policing, a clear explanation as to why the current system isn’t working well, and how to improve it. An idea he’s put into practice on his own beat. You can read it here: Washington Post Article

What he’s suggesting is much like the policing that Nicholas Rhea writes about in his Constable series, the community involvement practiced by English bobbies for generations. I’ve read several Constable books now and highly recommend them if you want some simple, relaxing reading. And now it’s great to hear that an American city cop is using this system, too — and it works!

Now here’s another thought about making a difference:

Kennedy quote.
Image by Mylene 2401 at Pixabay

 

 

Respect + Self-Respect

The Word of the Day Prompt this morning was RESPECT.

To me this is such an inspiring, healthy, upbeat word that I want to write something about it before my day is done.

I was thinking about a fellow Canadian we have a lot of respect for: journalist and author Conrad Black. When he writes, his articles are informative and what my husband and I consider to be a fair and sensible take on his subjects.

This evening, however, I’m thinking of one particular aspect of his life: the experiences he had during the time he was an inmate in one of Uncle Sam’s jails.

A bit of background:
Conrad Black once owned a chain of newspapers in Canada, some in the US, with shares in the Telegraph group in England and a couple of newspapers in Australia. He was living and working in the States when he was arrested and according to Google, “convicted in July 2007 on three counts of mail and wire fraud and one count of obstruction of justice”
Mr Black spent 29 months in a Florida prison before being granted bail. When his case came before the Supreme Court, the Court declared the statute under which he was convicted to be unconstitutional. Charges against him were dismissed and he returned to Canada. However, the case against him is not relevant to the direction of this post.

So what does a journalist do when he’s incarcerated? He writes about it, naturally. I read several articles he wrote while he was in prison, and one in particular has stayed with me. That’s where I want to go with this post.

While he was in prison, he just didn’t sit around writing articles. He spend a fair bit of his time teaching other prisoners to read and write — and in giving an education, he got an education. In interacting with the other prisoners, he got a better picture of the workings of the US justice system. In particular, how it works for poor, illiterate men.

Needless to say, he didn’t come away with a high regard for the education system where so many underprivileged children fall through the cracks. This isn’t always the fault of the schools; sometimes there’s just no encouragement from home — no home even. But it’s sad to see that North American schools have been abandoning the basics in favor of the fluff and passing on those who really need help. Illiteracy among Canadians born and raised and schooled here is shocking.

Mr Black, after listening to his fellow inmates, concluded that if you haven’t got the smarts to defend yourself in a court of law, your chances of being convicted are definitely higher. I’ve read a few stories about poor illiterate blacks who barely understood the proceedings being falsely convicted, especially in the South. I don’t think this is so very rare.

He also wrote that if you haven’t got a basic education so you can get a job and earn a decent wage, your chances of ending up in jail are a lot higher. And re-offending. No news there.

Which comes back to my point about respect. Respect for others comes from learning about them as real people. Self-respect, the ability to stand up and face the world, to get ahead, comes from learning, too. It’s pretty hard to keep your head above water if you don’t have a solid rock to stand on. Like basic “Readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic.”

I’ve seen this. I’ve a cousin who can’t read her bank statement or a business letter, and couldn’t begin to understand this post. Medical issues are total confusion. When her purse was stolen she didn’t report it because she’s scared of dealing with the police, in case they ask her questions she can’t understand. Lack of remedial classes and a poor home combined to hinder her schooling.

I respect Mr Black for his efforts to work with these men and to give them the basics — and the self-respect — they’d need to build a life outside the prison walls. And I respect and applaud all the folks out there who have taken the time to teach, to mentor, to work with, folks who need a helping hand. They are a mighty army, working unseen.

Which brings me to my friend Margaret’s poem. I’m using it with the confidence that if my dear friend were alive, she’d give her permission. She and her husband Milton were just such people as she describes here.

Quiet Folk
by Margaret Penner Toews

Some folks there are who, quiet, go about
Unseen, unheard, unknown
sowing kernels
digging wells
building bridges
picking stones
raising altars

…planting poignant thoughts in ordinary talk about His Presence,
…dig, and leave no signature, while others draw and drink,
…building bridges over chasms, deeply cut by hate and color, creed and prejudice
…removing stumbling stones of cruelty, indifference and scorn along the road, so those who walk in darkness will not fall
…erecting altars by their hearths, in secret closets, or on busy thoroughfares.

Quietly these folks ‘deliver cities’ (Ecclesiastes 9:14-15)
but no one knows
and no one will remember…
(most certainly not they themselves)

…Except for God…and He will never be a debtor.
He takes a leisurely eternity to give rewards.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From her book, First A Fire
© 1993 by Margaret Penner Toews
Available from PrairieView Press

Sunday Whirl: A Hint of Fear

Good morning everyone!

On Sunday I came across another writing challenge offered by host blogger Brenda Warren, called The Sunday Whirl. Here’s the banner:

And here’s the word list for Wordle #457:

I took the given words and wrote the story on Sunday already, just haven’t gotten around to posting it. The above words, in various forms, mostly appear in the first few paragraphs. The second part  I wrote just because I do like a good story. 🙂

A HINT OF FEAR

Larissa had won a scholarship to this college and she wasn’t going to waste it. She concentrated on her studies, foregoing holidays, declining invites to weekend parties. She even limited her trips back home so she could study.

Her diligence paid off in spades. When the marks were handed back after the last set of exams, she had to look twice. But it was true: she’d aced the exams. She was going to graduate with honors. She plowed her fist into the air and did a little pirouette.

She resisted the urge to dance around the room. Instead she thanked her professors and headed home where she could do all the singing and dancing she wanted to. Ah, but first a stop at Dairy Delightful, where she indulged in a delicious hot fudge sundae with whipped cream. This might inflate her waistline a bit, but she’d take a long jog tomorrow.

“Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars,” she sang as she slid the key in the lock on her apartment door. She opened the door partway when the strangest feeling hit her. Something felt very wrong, like someone was here. The odd sense of danger made her skin prickle.

She shook it off as imagination and stepped into the apartment, but that feeling of apprehension kept her from closing the door. Made her sigh a prayer. “God, if there’s really something wrong here, show me somehow.”

Though her eye saw nothing unusual, she did pick up a slight difference in the air. Had she left a window open? “Once I get a good-paying job I’m moving up in the world,” she promised herself. “Tenth floor at least.”

She straightened her spine and told herself firmly, “There is nothing wrong. I am not going to give in to some silly fear and let it spoil this beautiful day.”

But as she entered the room, the slight air movement brought to her a hint of stale tobacco. She didn’t smoke and neither had anyone else when they visited her. Acting on impulse she backed out of the room, shut the door, and locked it. Then she called her cousin Matt, grateful that she had his number on speed dial.

Handy having a cop in the family. So what if he’d find nothing amiss and tease her about being a chicken or needle her about her good imagination. She wasn’t taking any chances. Not like that girl in the news last week.

On second thought, Matt probably wouldn’t laugh.