A Dog-Less Hot Dog

© 2019 Bill Murphy

I seem to remember some of the weirdest things, and at the strangest times. Such a childhood memory visited me this morning, and I wasn’t even eating a hotdog!

It happened during the early 50s. This was a time when children were taught, and thought, that all adults were like kings and queens, and were endowed with powers just below presidential status. In other words, we understood that respectful children were most often the happiest children.

My mother’s eldest sister lived next door to us on Evergreen. She moved there from Bogalusa when my uncle died. My mother’s brother, and his family live across the street.

My aunt had left dear friends behind in Bogalusa, but they stayed in touch, and visited one another as often as possible. My aunt’s friend had a daughter, 2 years older than me, and the same age as my female cousin Pat from across the street. Pat and Eleanor were fast friends… who on occasion, would drag me along on their outings.

During this pre-MetroCenter time in south Jackson, on the the spot that was to become MetroCenter, there was a sprawling miniature golf course, And right across the street was a root beer stand. Here, my memory fails me. Was it A&W? Dog ‘N Suds? Frost Top? Anyway, on that golf outing, Eleanor was hungry, so after a round of golf, we drove over to the root beer stand. Eleanor was the last to order, as her order was not a usual order. Her order was not on the menu, and therefore, by their reasoning, out-of-order. I was about to witness teen-rebellion in action!

Eleanor calmly told them that she didn’t want the ‘chili-dog,’ but what she called a ‘chilly.’ “What’s that?” she was asked. “You know, a chili-dog without the wiener on it,” she replied. “We don’t have those,” replied the adult voice. “It’s not on the menu, so I don’t know what to charge for it.”

The adult voice was probably not expecting what was about to come.

“If I was a mother wanting only a wiener for my child, how much would you charge me for it?” she asked. There was a long pause. The adult was thinking. “Twenty cents,” he finally replied. (The cost then of the chili dog on the menu was thirty-five cents). “OK,” began Eleanor, “That’s easy. You keep your twenty cent wiener, and subtract that from the thirty-five cents, which leave me with fifteen cents which I owe you for a my chilly.”

You really can’t say that Eleanor was ‘arguing’ with an adult, although it was a simple, but very calm, confrontation. The end result truly had no winner. The root beer stand made their money, Eleanor got her chilly, and I didn’t wet my pants during their exchange.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A DIAMOND IN THE PARKING LOT

© 2019  Bill Murphy

I didn’t have my phone/camera at church this morning, so I have no photo-record to illustrate the following story.  Perhaps it’s just as well, for most folks failed to see what I saw this morning, and would have missed the message that I received.

Our church parking lot is neither asphalt nor concrete.  It’s paved with gray cinder/gravel.  Originally, this gravel was mostly about an inch in size, but over years of countless vehicles driving in and out, much of it has now been ground to the size of pea-gravel, or smaller.  Mixed in, is a sparse amount of other rock.  The front of our church facility faces north. 

This morning, I was standing at one of the front windows, looking out across the parking lot.  To my left, and perhaps three or four feet from the edge of the drive, I noticed a small glint of sunlight reflecting off of something.  There was not a cloud in the sky at that time of the morning.  This small sparkle of light was extremely bright, even though it was extremely small.  A step or two to the right or left, and the glint of light disappeared completely.  Whatever it was, it was small.  Could it be ring, perhaps a diamond lost at the edge of our parking lot? 

Amazingly, the vertical angle from which the reflection could be seen was just as critical as was the horizontal angle.  If I stooped, it again disappeared.  

I walked out to investigate.  A few steps forward, and the sparkle disappeared!  I made four or five trips out to the spot where this small glisten of light sparkled so brightly.  But I could find nothing.  As I retraced my steps each time, I focused on the spot where this reflective object must be, but as I reached the spot, I found nothing that could have caused it. 

Then I thought.  This incident was somewhat like a sailor or aviator lost at sea.  Before the days of micro-radios, they were issued small mirrors which easily fit into a shirt pocket.  These mirrors were used to reflect the rays of the sun from the individual, just a tiny speck on the vast ocean, reflecting back to searching aircraft thousands of feet overhead, or to ships which could be many miles away.  These small mirrors spotlight the location of the lost individual.

There were several things at work here: the lost soul at sea, the sun above, the small mirror, and the rescuers.  Sunday morning, what I saw was no doubt a tiny grain of silica amid all the billions of pieces of rock in the parking lot.  There was also the massive sun above millions of miles away… and there was me to witness this amazing interaction. 

The lesson I saw in that tiniest of sparkles in our church parking lot was a reminder to me of how great is our God, and how small we are.  And yet, He in his magnificent greatness, sees our needs and hears our prayers, and reflects His love back to us… a reflection which always says, “I hear, and I care!”

RESPONSIBILITY and RAILROADING

© 2019  Bill Murphy

I’ve written before on the heavy topic of responsibility.  It’s a subject that often pops up in my extended family.  As for myself, I’ve been officially retired for six years, and yet I’m still faced with responsibilities on a daily basis.  Obviously, they never end.

Responsibilities are much like anchovies and black olives: you have the option to choose or reject them.  (I love anchovies, but detest black olives.)  

Yes, one can reject a responsibility.  Folks do it all the time.  That’s not saying that’s a healthy thing to do, but it is an option.  The truth of this is in the expression ‘accepting one’s responsibilities.’  To accept involves a conscious, voluntary action The opposite of acceptance is rejection.  Both of these require a value judgement on our part… we weigh the options, and make our choice. 

I didn’t say that we study the options.  Decisions are often made with little or no thought as to the outcome of those decisions.  We speak, act, or shoot — and then think.  Oops!

Responsibilities are very personal and unique to the individual.  I may or may not have a similar responsibility confronting me that is confronting you.  But, by the same token, we share many responsibilities.   Yet even within a shared responsibility, the portion of that responsibility which affects us directly is ours alone to accept or reject.  We’re responsible for our personal portion.  

What we often fail to consider is the simple fact that the decisions we make concerning our personal responsibilities usually always affect others around us… those close to us, like family, as well as those not as close to us, as in those friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens of the world in which we live.  It is true: no man is an island.

So what’s the answer to this dilemma?  How do we, the accepters of responsibility, convince the rejectors of responsibility to get with the program?

Simple education is a good place to start.  Learn from the railroad.  All railroad wheels have flanges, extensions to the inside of the wheels.  These flanges extend downward to fit in-between the rails, thus keeping the train on the track.  Without these flanges, no train could ever make a turn, or even stay on the track going in a straight line.  Wheel flanges are a necessity.  The railroad has no choice in the matter.

When I was a child, it was said that schools taught the three R’s:  reading, riting and ‘rithmatic.  I suggest adding a fouth: RESPONSIBILITY.  

I also suggest teaching that responsibilities are linked to CONSEQUENCES.  Perhaps the word ‘link’ is incorrect.  Perhaps ‘chained’ would be better.  

Just as railroads would fail without the use of wheel flanges, students fail in school when they choose not to pay attention in class, not to do their homework, and not to study for tests.  

Employees: only do what is absolutely necessary on the job, then never expect a promotion.  Fail to pay your rent or house note and you’ll receive a boot out the door.  Spend all your money only on what you want, and you’ll not have money for what you need.  If you don’t eat, then expect to starve.  It’s all simple 1 + 1 = 2 math.   

As for responsibilities, they’re necessary for all of us.  They are the light which illuminate our paths in life.  And sometimes they are the barriers which protect us from danger.  Responsibilities allow us to navigate through a successful, fruitful, and meaningful life-experience.  Accepting those responsibilities are vital.  They keep us on track.  They keep us safe.  They keep us happy. Own them, your they are yours!

We may not always see them as friends, but they are.   

                                                     ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~