I call her the Wal-mart Nazi

Okay, so maybe she is not really a Nazi…actually she looks and speaks more like a Russian than a German….but I truly believe in a former life she could have been in the Gestapo. She is tall and slender (but appears STRONG) and wears her black hair pulled back in a severe bun. She does not smile…ever….and she walks around the checkout with her hands pulled tightly behind her back. She scares me. No, I mean it. She really does. So much for my local Wal-mart being a “friendly” place to shop. So much for the yellow “price cutting” smiley faces they have stuck on everything. Forget that. I don’t know where Wal-mart found this lady, but she makes everybody quake in their boots as they approach checkout. I’ve had two run-ins with her and lived to tell the story. I’m going to tell you the story… just in case. Just in case one day I have to run an errand to Wal-mart and never come back home. You’ll know why. You’ll know the real reason–that the Wal-mart Nazi got me.

The first encounter happened about a month ago. I was going through the line. A sweet little old Korean woman and her daughter were in front of me. The lady did not speak English very well. Not much at all, really. Well, she had a few things and I had a few things and we both put our stuff on the conveyor belt. Now as Scary Nazi woman was ringing up Korean lady’s stuff I was perusing the entertainment magazines for a little excitement. (How else am I to keep up with all the illicit goings on of the rich and famous?) Next thing I know Korean woman is excitedly saying, “No, no, no not mine! not mine!” As I glance over I get THE LOOK that made my heart freeze in my chest. “ARE THESE YOUR THINGS? WHY DID YOU NOT PUT UP THE STICK THAT DIVIDES PURCHASES? THAT IS WHAT IT IS THERE FOR!!!” I apologized for not putting up the stick and having to have her put my stuff back and re-ring up the Korean lady. Then she turns on the Korean lady and blast her for having some sort of tax exempt paper with her. I was angry with how she was treating us….I wanted to say something….but was paralyzed with fear, much like the fly trapped in the spiders web. As I looked at Nazi woman I swear I saw red flicker in her eyes. After getting my Wal-mart purchases I beat a hasty retreat to my car and sped out of the parking lot like a Nascar driver during Speed Week.

Well, as we all know, one can’t stay away from Wal-mart for too long. I don’t even think it is humanly possible. Anyway, this time I was at Wal-mart with Kendrick and Breanna. They were witnesses. They know the truth. They saw Evil with their own eyes. They know she lives and works at Wal-mart. This was supposed to be a quick jaunt to the store to get water. We were out and I was picking up a few gallons. This time I went through self checkout. Quick, easy, no problem, right? Wrong! First of all the young lady in front of me made the mistake of scanning a pair of pants on clearance that brought the ire of the Nazi down on her like a bad thunderstorm. I don’t think the poor lady knew what hit her. She was almost ready to put the pants back, so as not to cause any further problem….but I guess she really liked the pants, so she decided to stick it out. After the whole episode she left quickly. Now it was my turn.I scan my water jugs. I pay with cash. I put my ten dollar bill in the slot. I’m supposed to get back $6.47 and I get back $6.05. As I’m considering my predicament, SHE appears again out of nowhere, behind me this time. I’ve been blind sided. “WHAT SEEMS TO BE THE PROBLEM HERE?” uh…..the machine did not give me the right change….at this point she grabs my receipt and looks it over. Sure enough she sees I am right. She grabs the change machine (and this is no lie I promise) and shakes it so hard that it actually rocked. (and it is bolted to the floor!) At first the change machine spit out another couple of dimes–but not enough. She looked disgusted and shook it again. This time the machine thought better and gave up all the change. I took my change and grabbed Breanna, who was trembling next to me, and Kendrick, who was cowering behind the counter, and took off. Another escape.

I told my husband about this woman at Wal-mart. I don’t know if he actually believes me. Maybe he thinks I’m exaggerating. Hmmppfff!!! We’ll see how brave he is when he meets her face to face.

Autism is not a dirty word

As many of you might know I worked with and taught people with special needs for many years. (17 professionally as an educator and for 6 years before that as a volunteer, camp counselor and as a house counselor in group homes.) My goodness, have I been privy to some good stories over the years….some hysterically funny,some frustrating, some sad….but all interesting and good learning experiences for me. Well, about 6 years ago I had a kindergarten student enter my classroom. His entering my classroom began an adventure for me, an adventure that I am still on. You see this particular little boy with chocolate brown eyes and with skin the color of latte was my teacher. He taught me about autism by living out his story every day. When he first came into my life he was wild as a little animal. He threw himself to the floor in tantrums, he bit me, he was all the time spitting at me, he smacked me and he cried. I knew he was autistic but I didn’t know much about autism back then. I had never had an autistic student before in all my years of teaching. I remember one day in particular. This little boy was having a difficult day. We were getting nowhere. Finally, mid-morning, I told my teaching asst. to watch my classroom. I was going to take this child outside to the playground. I didn’t care that it wasn’t recess. We needed to get out of the room. He loved the up and down motion of the swing, it soothed him. So that is what we did. At this point I was mentally and physically exhausted. I sank down on a bench on the playground and tears rolled down my face. “God, I can’t do this! It’s too hard! He doesn’t understand me…and I don’t think he even likes me at all! I’m tired of the spitting and slapping and school has only been in session a few weeks. I just can’t do it.” These thoughts continued through my mind as I sat and watched him swing..back and forth, back and forth. Then I heard the voice…well, not audibly, but the voice was just as clear to me as if God himself was sitting beside me conversing with me. “DAWN, HE HAS AUTISM. IT IS PART OF HIM, BUT IT IS NOT ALL OF HIM. YOU WILL GROW TO LOVE THIS CHILD AND HE WILL BE SPECIAL TO YOU. RIGHT NOW I WANT YOU TO ALLOW ME TO LOVE HIM THROUGH YOU. ” What peace that came over me. Just like that. Now, those of you reading this might think I had some sort of mental breakdown or something that day on the playground. It’s okay with me if you think that…..but I know the Real Truth. From that day forward things changed. Sure, I still got slapped and spit on. There were still tantrums. The thing is something changed IN ME. Days turned into weeks, weeks to months, months to years. I worked with this little boy and he made progress…so much progress that other teachers were amazed by his transformation. I learned about autism and figured out his strengths. This child was intelligent in so many ways. His visual memory, and his spelling skills were incredible. He learned better communication skills so he didn’t need to tantrum, or slap anymore. He was special to me and to my teaching assistant. Yes, he was even a bit spoiled by us. He had come so far….and so had we. Later on, my supervisors gave me more autistic students because of my success with this little boy. Over the past several years I’ve become fascinated by autism and what having autism means to a person that is autistic. I’ve met autistic people, I’ve read and researched, asked questions, and had real relationships with children that happen to have autism. I’ve talked with their parents. I’ve learned a lot. There was another of my students that I also got in my room when she was in kindergarten. Talk about a stubborn little firecracker! But funny…I really enjoyed her in my classroom. She has become quite the artist at age 8 and has made so much progess. Sure, she is autistic….but that is only one thing about her. She’s so much more than that label. That girl is going places and I’m very proud of her.

Now, I’ve been touched by someone in my own family that just recently was diagnosed with autism. He’s four years old. He has big, beautiful eyes. He’s crazy about movies and he looks mighty sharp in his dress shirt and cowboy boots. His grandfather and I enjoyed spending time with him this summer. His journey is just beginning. It will be a long, hard journey. It is a road that at times will be frustratingly difficult. His parents will want to cry as they get bogged down in the mire of school politics. My heart goes out to them…..but this journey will change them, and make them stronger as they advocate for their son.

Today, one in one hundred fifty children is diagnosed with autism. That is far too many. Hopefully, one day doctors will understand what causes autism. Hopefully, in the future there will be a cure….but, in the meantime we can’t give up.

Interview with a Witch

With Halloween drawing near, a news show did an interview with a witch. I was watching this segment and looking at the lady-witch. Her physical appearance was normal. If I’d have run into her at Wal-mart I wouldn’t have known. She didn’t have on a black hat or a wart on her nose….but she was scary nonetheless. She is scary because she is so very lost and so very blinded to the Truth. She was adamant about explaining her “religion” of paganism. She worships mother and father earth. Honestly, when she said that I had a chill run down my spine and immediately the commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” ran through my mind. As a Christian I serve the only God who is worthy of honor and praise. When I say that kind of thing it really puts a burr under some people’s saddle. “That is so exclusive. You Christians think you are the only ones that are right. There are many ways to Heaven! What makes you think you have all the answers and the rest of us don’t?” Because my Lord said, ” I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE. NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER BUT BY ME.” John 14:6

This is truly a scary story. When I worked in the elementary school, one of our students mom’s was a self proclaimed witch. ( I assume she still is, as she was very much into the whole thing.) Anyway, this woman subbed at our school often. (public schools are not allowed to discriminate because someone calls herself a witch.) One day my teaching assistant was out sick and so the school office called this lady in to sub for her. She walked into my classroom and all I can say is I could feel an “aura” about her. I knew that she was carrying pure blackness around with her–even though it wasn’t seen by the human eye. She told me that she was a “white witch” and that they were good. (good? how is that possible?) …..I prayed to myself that God would be with me and my students on that day and that a hedge of protection would be put around us. It was at that time that the verse from Ephesians 6:12 became real to me. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (v.13-Therefore put on the full armor of God…so when that evil day comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.) At the end of the day, I went to the office and told the school secretary. “Please do not ever put that woman in my classroom again. I would rather be on my own without any help in my room than to have her as a sub.” The secretary honored my request and I never had to work with this woman again….but she did sub for other teachers at my school.

KUB and other Annoying Things

KUB stands for Knoxville Utilities Board. Now, I appreciate that KUB exist as they are the ones that allow me to have electricity and running water which I am rather fond of… BUT I do not like what they’ve been doing to the streets in my neighborhood for the past few months. Right now I am listening to them dig holes in the street, right in front of my house…..with all their big digging machines. This has been happening on and off for a few months now. Evidently, there is some drainage “issue” that they are working on. The street looks like a band of drunk moles has descended on it. Holes have been dug up all over the place and then so beautifully “patched”….which in real life means ugly asphalt slapped into the holes that KUB has created and that will probably break apart when it gets cold this winter, but I digress…. Now, my question is this: Why can’t they get it right the first time? Why must they keep coming back to the same area several times? And what does this mean for the street? Am I going to be driving down my street one day and my car drop into a hole that takes me half way to China because some sink hole has been created? I just heard a loud mechanical sounding BANG from outside. Okay, this can’t be good.

Asian Man

I was out with Breanna and Kendrick this afternoon when I started getting the question, “Are we going to stop and get something to eat?” I was kind of hungry myself so I gave in. We went to Arby’s for some roast beef sandwiches.

The man taking our order at the counter looked to be in his mid 50’s. He was Asian. He was the sweetest man. He teased with the kids and asked us riddles while we waited. He had a very thick accent so I really had to pay attention, but I thought what a nice man. I thought to myself, here is a man who is working at a fast food restaurant, but he is helping to make the world a better place just by smiling and being so friendly. It made me want to visit Arby’s again.

Rainy Day Tuesday

Finally, some good rain around here. We need rain! It has been an extremely dry summer and fall. I like gray, rainy days. I guess I’m just weird. (which if you know me, you know that can be the case!) Speaking of weather…how sad about the fires out in California. Now, California is known for it’s severe (and often catastrophic) weather. Earthquakes, mudslides, fires. I can’t say that I would ever want to live in California but, it is still terrible seeing all those houses go up in flames. Don’t you hate it when a reporter sticks a microphone in a “newly homeless” person’s face and says, “How do you feel?” Well, now let’s think about it….How does he think they feel? They just lost EVERYTHING. I mean really, sometimes news people can just be soooo dumb.

Now, once again speaking of weather (can you see a theme today?), I watched Storm Chasers last night. Such a cool show! No, these scientists do not have a death wish, at least I don’t believe they do, but wow was it scary! They made this car thingy that looks sort of like a plated tank. It has weights in the bottom of it to make it extremely heavy. The guys are taking wind readings etc. so they drive right into the tornado in this vehicle. The vehicle is shaking and all, but it stands firm. (How do these guys not need a diaper?) Of course, being the practical person that I am, I say to my husband, ” I bet they have to pay A LOT for their insurance, if they can get it at all.” You know how on insurance forms you have to fill out that section that asks if you do any crazy, stupid, death defying things and that you must confess it to them before they will insure you…..

I love watching videos of the tornadoes too. Of course, as I watch I’m yelling, “What are you doing just standing there?! It’s coming! Run for your life! Where’s your basement????” Then you hear the person taking the video say something like, “Cool dude. This is like a monster storm. Did you see that farmhouse just get smashed? Oh, man, it’s turning, it’s coming this way.”

I mean wouldn’t you hate to be him? His tombstone would read: He thought taping tornadoes would be fun, but here he lies because he didn’t run.

Bam Humbug on the Blog-O-Sphere!

Well, to my faithful blog readers out there, I just wanted to tell you that I got word today from the tech powers-that-be. Some of my former blogs were on the Google Cache and I was able to retrieve them. (as far back as July) The rest of my blogs are gone. The Home School Blogger site is not sure how my entries got lost, but sure enough they ARE lost. It is very frustrating to me. I feel like I’ve lost a year long diary. I’m putting it in perspective though. There are a lot worse situations in life. It is frustrating, true, but life will go on…..and I will continue to blog….and THIS TIME I will save everything!!!! Lesson learned.