Empty wagons that rattle

My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Crowley, was always admonishing her current crop of sixth graders for being empty wagons that rattled.

That needed no explanation. She thought we were goof offs with rocks in our heads.

But I was determined to prove her wrong.

Much tougher to understand was her declaration, “It’s time to separate the sheep from the goats.”

I was never quite sure which side she was going to deposit me in and I also wasn’t sure which side I wanted. Sure, goats locked horns, were unruly and ate everything in sight, but sheep were dumb. They just stood in one place until a sheep dog or shepherd pointed them in the right direction.

But I finally figured out that Mrs. Crowley wanted us to be sheep.

Last week’s sermon was on Matthew 25 and the sheep ended up in heaven with God. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where the goats ended up.

Mrs. Crowley never did actually send the goats to the back of the room, but she did try to fill up those empty wagons that rattled. And on the days I think I hear rattling up there, I think of grumpy Mrs. Crowley, scowling at all the goats who were not paying attention. And then I try a little harder, listen a little better and mind my manners.

I’m sorry I didn’t do that in sixth grade, Mrs. Crowley. But you’ll be glad to know my wagon rarely rattles nowadays.


Let it snow (not really)

On a day like today, I appreciate retirement.

I didn’t shovel until 10 am., after the plows had been by and right after the city finally came by to suck up the piles of leaves on neighborhood boulevards.

Yes, after ignoring my street for two weeks, they finally got around to retrieving the snow and rain-soaked leaf piles. I felt sorry for the guy working the vacuum. I wonder if they toss a coin to see which guy stays in the truck.

You’d think, being retired, that I would have gone back in the house after clearing the driveway and sidewalks, but I actually checked out an outdoor auction. I only stayed about an hour because the merchandise wasn’t that great. But still, it feels like a tough thing to do to stand outside in a parka bidding on wrenches and assorted hardware.

I’d like to say I then came home and got a lot done. Instead, I settled in to read a thriller.

Hey, I’m retired. That’s what retired folks do.

Maybe if I get up before 9 a.m. tomorrow, I’ll do a load of laundry and work in a trip to the library.


Romancing technology

My relationship with technology is in trouble.

I’ve tried breaking up with it, but like any long-term relationship, neither of us is willing to make the final break. So we both hang on, annoying each other, arguing, and even yelling when things go terribly wrong.

For now, I’m all yelled out. I’m too exhausted to do anything but sigh with relief that technology and I are back together again in our uneasy alliance.

After six days of being without a router, my new one arrived in the mail this morning. For a 13-ounce box, it sure packs a punch. Even though I had it up and operational, it refused to connect me to the internet. Once Charter washed its hands of my problem, I was back with the router company, which employs the same annoying automated voice that Charter uses. Always cheerful, never helpful, the voice finally connected me to my new friend from India who assured me that I’d be connected to the internet in no time.

Well, if 45 minutes is your idea of “no time,” then he was correct.

I was feeling badly about requiring all this technical help when he paused, said, “hmm,” and then told me his first easy solution didn’t work. He had to do the connection “manually,” which meant he was going to have to use his technology-packed brain to fix this problem. And this is a guy who gave up engineering for customer service. He was willing to accept a big pay cut for my kind of human interaction. (OK, so I haven’t really given up interviewing people. Once a reporter, always a reporter.)

Finally, after a couple of more tries, the internet was once more mine. I never knew how much I wanted it until it pretended to not want me. Sure, I whine about technology, but what would I do without email and the wonders of online?

I guess I’m the one who will always have to learn the hard way. Heck, I was frightened of that IBM Selectric typewriter I learned to type on in 1972, but I was able to do 65 words a minute, no mistakes, by the time I graduated typing class.

With that kind of background, maybe I’ll end up like my friend from India — troubleshooting router and computer problems for people less technologically savvy than me.

But first I have to find those people and teach them about electricity.