The Great Garbage Getaway

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This past Sunday, my daughter and I almost died…

Of laughter.

We were heading home from a nice, leisurely, after church lunch of fried chicken and fixin’s (that’s side dishes to you non-southern folk). Which brings up a good point; what is it about a Sunday church service that makes people in the south want to eat fried chicken afterward?

Anyway, we were heading home to sleep it off, naturally, because everything about a Sunday afternoon and a full belly scream nap time.

It was just my daughter and I in the minivan, because my son had ridden home with my husband. He leaves the house early every Sunday morning for praise and worship practice, so we take separate vehicles to church.

My husband and son were about 45 seconds ahead of us on the trip home, and had just parked and stepped out of the car to wait for us, so they were able to watch the following scene unfold.

We were pulling into our gated and very well kept condo community, as 2 African American gentlemen  that looked to be between the ages of 19 to 22 in a little gray sports car were pulling out.

Nothing unusual there, except that they were creeping along very slowly and one of them was dangling an overstuffed kitchen trash bag out the passenger side window.

I slowed to see what they were up to, as if I didn’t already know.

I locked eyes with the passenger as he watched me watching him. I was completely stopped by now right inside the entrance, but before reaching the gate, to see if the young man had the guts to make his next move, knowing full well that my eyes were now fixed intently upon him.

Sure enough, the car stopped about 40 yards from the exit to the complex. The passenger then flung open his door and quickly hopped out of the vehicle, with eyes on me the whole time, as he tossed his burden into the trees lining the property.

Our condo community has a trash compactor. A trash compactor that is easily accessible to all those that live within the community. A trash compactor that we, as residents, pay hugely inflated association fees to help maintain every month. There’s a second gate leading out to the main road right next to the compactor. So, had those 2  simply driven the extra few blocks to the compactor, they could have properly disposed of their trash and exited the complex via that particular gate, but nooo…

The guy then ran back toward the vehicle and hurled himself inside with Cheetah-like swiftness. The tires screeched as they pulled away, eager to be rid of my prying eyes as quickly as possible.

Now, I’m not some sort of tree-hugging, “go green” hippy with save the planet, save the vegetarians, save the dust bunnies bumper stickers that always buys organic, attends anti-global warming rallies, and recycles everything I can get my hands on. I am, however, that one idiot in this huge, selfish, and uncaring city that will chase a plastic bag or empty wrapper across the entire length of a parking lot just because I HATE to see someone else’s litter cluttering up the beauty of this world.

So this guy, this litterbug of epic proportions that chose to do his dirty work right before my eyes; he sparked an instant rage inside of me. That was it. He was going down!

“Oh no he didn’t!” I exclaimed, and whipped my minivan around to give chase so fast, that my son, watching from the parking lot, later told me, “I think you got some air on that take off, mom.”

We sped down the winding street after the little gray car that was now gaining ground faster than my big boat could keep up. “Faster, mom! We’re losing them!” my daughter screamed from the seat beside me. We must have been doing 80 down the twisting back road toward the main highway. The speed limit was 40. My foot jamming the accelerator to the floor, intent gaze on the car in front of us quickly speeding away, I yelled back, “I just want his plate number! Can you see his plate number?!” “Not yet, we have to get closer!”

Let me put this spectacle into perspective for you: 2 white girls, fresh out of church, in a minivan, chasing down 2 black men in a sports car…over trash. It was like a scene out of a Wayans Brothers movie. What were we hoping to gain here once we caught up to them? Was I even thinking that far ahead? And seriously, why were these 2 so afraid of a short, fat, white woman and a teenage girl in a minivan?

I didn’t care. I was a lioness in hot pursuit of my prey. I wanted rectification for the heinous crime that I had just witnessed. If I could just get his license plate number, the power would be mine! I could report him to the authorities! I was chasing these evil-doers in the name of truth, justice, and the American way!

Or, litterbugs just tick me off enough to be this stupid.

As the little car continued to speed ahead at a rate faster than our soccer mom-mobile, I began to lose hope that we would even catch up. I don’t think we’ll catch them,” I yelled to my daughter. To which she replied, “No mom, we’ve got this! Don’t give up!”

Sure enough, we were coming up to the stoplight for the main highway. It was red.

The 2 villains weren’t sure how to proceed as they approached the stoplight. They crossed into the right lane…they crossed back into the left. They were stuck. They tried to turn their car sideways across 2 lanes to block our view of the license plate. Too late. “Get the plate, get the plate!” I yelled, and screamed the now visible number out to my daughter just before the 2 geniuses realized that they could have hung a right down the service road and made a clean get away. Oops. Better luck next time, fellas.

Off they sped into the sunset. We waved goodbye. See ya, suckas!

“That was awesome!” my daughter exclaimed. “Go mom!” We fist bumped. “Next time we need to wear capes.” I said.

That brought to light the sheer ridiculousness of the whole situation. I looked at her. She looked at me. We laughed all the way back home.

“Well, what now?” I wondered

I called up a friend that owns a property management company in the city I live in. She convinced me that, even though I could call the police and report it as illegal dumping, they would likely do nothing. I could call the management company and let them know, but that would be the equivalent of calling my neighbor to ask why the power went out.

Instead, and because it just grated on my nerves so terribly, my husband and I went out to retrieve the bag of trash and properly dispose of it. It would seem that my efforts in chasing down the culprits and obtaining their license plate number were all in vain.

Or were they?

When we picked up the bag of trash, we clearly saw a piece of mail with a name and address on it plastered up against the thinly stretched plastic barely holding in the contents of the bulging bag. We made note of it. It happened to be a woman’s name on the piece of mail. We walked around the property and located the address. Our building faces it from across the little retention pond.

I surmised that mom must have asked son and son’s friend to take the trash out on their way to…wherever. Son decided to take the lazy way out of the task. I wonder if Mrs. Marie would like to know what really became of her trash.

Hmmm…perhaps a letter is in order?

To whom it may concern…

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How Can I Embarrass Thee?

Let me count the ways…

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I’ve made it my life’s work to embarrass my children any time the opportunity presents itself, as is my right as a parent. The job is quite fulfilling. It keeps them on their toes, because they’ll never know when one of my maniacal mom moments will present itself, and I like to keep them guessing.

After a total of 41 hours of grunting, sweating labor, 8,760 dirty diapers, and having to walk out of a restaurant, miss part of a movie, or cut a trip to the grocery store short 324 times due to screeching temper tantrums (those still happen even now in the teen years), I figure I’m entitled to some sort of emotional compensation. The thrill of watching them squirm for a change pretty much covers that cost. One might argue that parenthood itself is its own reward. I’ll agree, of course. I wouldn’t trade my kids for the world, but the added bonus of having the ability to turn their faces 50 shades of red at any given moment is quite lovely.

This venture has gotten even more joyous as they’ve gotten older, considering the fact that just having the parental units in close proximity or, Heaven forbid, addressing them with real live words in a public setting is borderline traumatizing to your average teenager.

You, too, have the power to be a general nuisance in the eyes of your overly dramatic offspring. It’s quite simple, and can provide hours of free entertainment. You’ll also have a few fun stories to file away for your grandchildren someday.

Here I offer up several teen stressing recipes, some of which I’ve already tried, and with great success. They all require one teenager (or more for flavor) a dash of drama, a spoonful of sass, and an eye roll or 2. The ones that I haven’t attempted yet are on my bucket list, of course. They’ll happen eventually, all in good time.

1. When you’re out with your teenager and spouse at a crowded restaurant, point to something on your spouse’s plate and say, “Hey, can I have a bite of that?” Then, as your spouse makes a motion to shovel the bite of food into your mouth, bounce up and down in your seat a little and exclaim very loudly, “Ooo! Ooo! Do the airplane!” Watch teenager’s eyes widen in horror as your spouse makes buzzing noises and twirls the bite of food into your gaping maw.

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2. Take your teenager with you into a public restroom to use the facilities. After spending a quiet moment or 2 sitting alone in a stall reflecting the meaning of life or reading about who’s vowed to love whom forever written on the stall door, stand up and excitedly say, “Hey, you’ve gotta see this one! It looks like a weiner dog!” Listen as the footfalls scramble to make their way out of the restroom with Cheetah-like swiftness.

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3. Wear very colorful socks with flip flops in public. Your teenager, especially the female budding fashionista types like mine, will make it a point to walk at least 5 paces ahead of you in an effort to make it look like you couldn’t possibly be together. Who’s the crazy person behind me? I have no idea. I’ll just shrug, screw my face into a highly disgusted expression, and pretend I don’t know why they’re addressing me as “honey”.

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4. While out driving around with your teenager, don some cheap aviator sunglasses and a backward baseball cap. Roll down the windows in the minivan, and blast the latest Justin Bieber song as loudly as possible without blowing out the speaker system. When you’re stopped at a red light, slowly turn to the vehicle next to you, stick your arm out the window and with a completely serious face, whip them a peace sign with your left hand. Look puzzled as mortified teenager hunkers down in the passenger seat in an effort to disappear.

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5. Take your teenager grocery shopping, and kindly request that they push the cart for you. Now, if you’re feeling particularly daring and energetic, climb into the main basket, or, if you’re just not feeling athletic enough to attempt such a feat, simply hop up onto the end of the cart and excitedly request, “Push me! Push me!” with a large cheeky grin on your face. Sadly wave good-bye as exasperated teen flees for the electronics section.

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6. While also out grocery shopping with your teenager, as you’re in the check-out lane loading your mac and cheese, ramen, and hot dogs (5 kids, remember?) onto the conveyor belt, burst into a stirring (and loud enough for people 3 or 4 lanes over to hear) rendition of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Look around you at the other people in the lane and urge, “Everybody now!” Once impromptu sing along is finished, ask for assistance scraping flattened teenager up off the floor because they’ve dropped dead from embarrassment.

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7. Arrive an hour earlier than the originally agreed upon time to pick up your teenager from the mall. Locate teenager amidst the gaggle of verbally challenged, hygienically questionable, sagging pantsed youth. (Head for Hot Topic, you’ll likely find them there.) Approach teenager and loudly proclaim, “I thought I should take you home early. If you keep skipping your antibiotics, that THING will never go away.” Watch as teenager tries to save face by pretending that you don’t exist. Notice remaining youth trying to puzzle out the meaning of ‘antibiotics.’ Such a big word…

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8. Bring your teenager along on one of your frequent pain reliever runs to the local pharmacy. Hey, the fact that you even have a teenager means that you go often for those economy sized bottles of Tylenol and you know it. While there, look for an employee, preferably a youthful one not much older than the teenager in tow. Drag and position said employee in front of the gleaming wall of adult diapers. Point at the packages of spongy undergarments and very loudly ask, “Do these come in super absorbency? I tend to sneeze ALOT.” After the youthful lad points out what you’re looking for while stifling a chuckle, apologize for needing the assistance because, well…”with age, your eyesight just isn’t what it used to be.” Locate agitated teenager that managed to scoot a distance of 5 isles over within 2 tenths of a second and is currently trying to act nonchalant while thumbing through a magazine.

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9. While your teenager has a friend over, enter their room with panic in your voice, and exclaim, “I think I just found a grey nose hair!” Then tilt your head slightly back, flare your nostrils, point to your nose, and say, “Look! It’s right there! Can you see it?! Tell me if you think that’s grey.” Listen to teenager heave an irritated sigh and try to calmly explain to their friend that they are actually adopted, and that their birth parents are really wealthy movie stars that will return to claim them some day.

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10. Take your teenager to Wal Mart in the middle of the afternoon wearing pajamas, slippers, curlers, and some type of beauty facial mask. While you will likely blend in with the rest of the Walmartian community, your teenager still won’t want to be seen with you. Then again, you could dress in your Sunday best, and they still won’t want to be seen with you…

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I hope that this study guide helps get you started on the road to A+ embarrassment. Feel free to grace me with your own personal stories of creative situations in which you’ve made your teenager want to slink away and bury their head in shame. You know, like… speaking to them out loud instead of attempting to communicate telepathically…or …blinking…breathing… existing…

Until next time, readers… stay dramatic. 

Vengeance is…Who’s?

As is human nature, our carnal mindset tends to kick into overdrive when we we’ve been hurt, angered, disgusted, or any other very human emotional response that’s powerful enough to completely override our impulse control. That’s usually about the time all rational thought goes out the window and is replaced by something that to us, a society of intelligent creatures with the ability to reason has been ingrained into our flawed, sinful characters since Cain first spilled his brother’s blood on that ancient patch of soil…

Revenge. An eye for an eye. You’ve wronged me in some way, committed some heinous act that I’ve decided deserves retribution, so now I must repay what you’ve done… with interest. You see it everywhere in the media, can barely turn a channel on the T.V, hear or song on the radio, or munch a bucket of popcorn in a crowded theater without touching on the highly publicized, worldly ideal that evil should be returned for evil…tenfold.

Now, If you’ve learned anything about God in your lifetime, whether you choose to be a believer or not, you’ve likely heard some of the more popular biblical principles that he’s imparted to us for the sake of leading us down the correct path in this crazy little thing called ‘life’; the  path of righteousness and salvation. The bible, or ‘basic instructions before leaving earth’ imparts these bits of Godly wisdom to us not to be cruel, or keep us from enjoying the life that we have been given, but because God, our Heavenly Father, has our best interest at heart. He created us, and in His image no less, so why would He wish for us to indulge in things that will cause us harm? I’ve never seen a parent watch their toddler lean over a hot stove and say, “Go ahead. Touch it, because I can see that you really want to.” Those parents would want to remove their child from the danger, and in much the same way, God put rules into place to keep us safe.

One of those rules and it’s a BIG one, folks, is given to us in Romans 12:19, which says, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

Now there’s a hard concept to for our ‘act now, think later’ fleshly selves to grasp.

This past week I was unfortunate enough (or dare I call it fortune because the situation didn’t involve me) to be on the outside looking into a turn of events that made me think long and hard about this very verse, in a way that I never had before.

I had never given this command much thought up until this point. Now don’t get me wrong, I followed it, but I followed it blindly. I had always just shrugged it off and thought nothing more of it other than that it was just God’s way of telling us to put our complete trust in Him. A test of faith. He’s got this, count on him to take care of it, and go about your business. While having faith and giving God control over difficult situations of course plays a huge part in this command, I realized that there’s a deeper reason for it, other than just pure faith. What’s that reason? ONLY GOD KNOWS WHATS TRULY IN A MAN’S HEART.

Let me explain. This situation I’m referring to, which I’ll simplify for the sake of those involved and convey to you to the best of my knowledge for the sake of understanding the point I’m trying to make, is something along these lines:

A man once committed a crime. He claims to have been set up by someone with a vendetta against him, angered the wrong people, and happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whether there’s truth to the accusations against him or he truly was falsely accused and is an innocent man, though, is neither here nor there. He’s served his sentence, paid for this crime, and is going about his daily life. Working his job, supporting his family, and basically, minding his own business. There have been no further accusations against him since this one past offense.

Now someone else, and a Christian, no less, not even having an issue directly with him, but with his spouse, has decided to launch a crusade to destroy this man, going so far as to call his place of business to try and have him fired for those criminal charges from long ago that the man has already paid his debt to society for.

My point in all this is that it’s not up to us to judge what’s in a man’s heart and take matters into our own hands. God knows what’s in our hearts better than even we do, and only He knows if that man (or woman as the case may be), has truly repented and is trying to never repeat the same act of sin. It’s not our place to launch some hate-fueled vigilante justice crusade. You can try to convince yourself that your intentions are nothing but admirable, and say that you have the best interest of others at heart as you label your vengeance as an act of societal compassion, but God sees into the hearts of men, and He knows what’s in yours as well. Just because it looks like a cow and moos like a cow, He can smell when it’s a load of bull. You likely have no idea what’s really happening in the heart of the person that you’ve become hell-bent on destroying. Once you do exact your revenge on that person, the consequences and repercussions are likely to cause a wave of destruction, not just for them, but for you as well, and others caught in the path of your tornado of irrational action. God’s trying to stop you from wandering off the path that He’s laid out before you, because there are thorns to both sides. Don’t touch that hot stove of revenge and regret. Vengeance is HIS, and with good reason. It’s not a toy. We’re not meant to play with it.