#32 Over 30 years ago, I was a teacher needing help!
A good humored
to the rescue!
16 Two-Year Olds!
My "teaching job" at a California preschool is one of the most challenging jobs I have ever had. My assistant Fiona and I found many ways to wear the children out to make sure they slept at naptime. A good long walk in the morning with the guidance of a long knotted rope could do the trick. Or better yet, a trip to Turtle Rock Park!
One morning at the park...
We let the kids race up and down the hill and pick wildflower weeds. We gave them a good picnic lunch and sat the 16 kids on the hill to wait for the preschool van.
Where's the van?
We waited for an hour, but it never came. Fiona and I told stories and sang songs, but the kids were no longer amused. Two-year olds who have been properly worn out for naps don't all sit and doze. They were getting second winds and wouldn't be cooperating much longer. I raced off in search of a payphone, only to realize I had no dime. I found someone to loan a dime, but (as was often the case back before cell phones) the pay phone was broken.
I glanced across the parking lot and noticed a policeman who had just pulled over a Volkswagen bug. I waited for him to finish his business and confronted him about our problem. After I promised him I wouldn't make him tote 16 two-year olds in his squad car, he offered to take me to the school for help.
Where'd they go?
I rode in the police car to the school, only to discover the van driver had just left for the park. "Would you like me to take you back to the park?" The policeman asked. As we cruised towards the park, I pictured poor Fiona trying to coral 16 cranky, nap craving tots. But when we arrived at the park, Fiona and the little guys had already been picked up. "Would you like me to take you back to school?" The policeman laughed. "Or would you like to come fill out an application for the police force? If you're going to drive around with me all day, you might as well get paid."
So thank you, patient Policeman! You were kind to transport me back and forth and you were also kind not to lecture me about how I handled the situation. I thought I was a responsible, quick thinking caregiver at age 23, but I cringe at how I left dear Fiona with 16 children! In fact now that I think about it, things would have worked out much better if I had never spotted you. But it would have been a much duller story.
To celebrate my birthday in April 2012, I decided to reflect on the past with a different kind of list. I've met a lot of people in my 55 years, but I'm going to stop and remind myself about the strangers I've met. These are people I met by accident, not through friends or work. For some reason, these strangers dropped into my life. Even though we may have only spent a few minutes together, these people have never been forgotten.
Each week, I'll spotlight someone I met in the past, who in some small way, made me stop and think.
Remember 55 Strangers