Have you ever gotten your signals crossed? That happened to me today, and I’ll tell you about it shortly.
But first, I want to tell you about another time I pulled something like this. OK, there have been more than two times, but I’m only sharing the two. This older one happened in 2002.
I hadn’t thought about the 14-year-old incident for a long time until two weeks ago when Pendleton icon Steve Cherry died suddenly. Mr. Cherry was a lifelong bachelor and the right-hand man of numerous coaches, administrators and probably teachers at Pendleton Heights High School for decades. One speaker at his funeral said that he is survived by the Pendleton community. I’d say that’s about right.
He was a mentor to our younger son, Ben, as Mr. Cherry was the former director of the school radio station and he selected Ben as the WEEM radio scholarship recipient his senior year, the award being endowed by Mr. Cherry.
Among Mr. Cherry’s many duties, yet another one involved the school’s drivers’ ed program. This is the 2002 story.
Word came that there would be an informational meeting about the summer drivers’ ed program during a particular school day. Attendance was mandatory. A freshman, Sam would be taking drivers’ ed that summer and we didn’t want to miss out on the mandatory meeting.
I arranged to miss work for a few hours so that I could attend the meeting, held in the “pit,” an auditorium in the high school where the stage is sunken and the audience is at ground level with rows tapering down, not up.
So I arrived prepared to pay whatever fee was involved and took my seat in the front row, putting me basically on the stage. Soon, the freshmen students started filing in, filling the audience. But something odd: Where were the parents? I wondered. There was not a parent in sight! I was the only parent among my son and hundreds of his peers. I spotted Sam but thankfully, didn’t catch his eye.
I couldn’t get up and leave, climbing dozens of rows with every eye in the place on me. So I sort of sunk down in my seat and vowed not to turn my head or turn around. Obviously, I had messed up; this meeting was only for the students.
Mr. Cherry picked up the microphone and started addressing the students, just inches from me. Maybe if I just lay low, the whole thing would be over before my son or his peers saw me, the lone parent, front and center.
In the middle of Mr. Cherry’s presentation, without missing a beat, he looked right at me, and into the microphone he said, “Can we help you with something, ma’am?”
I shook my head no, mouthing the word to match, my face no doubt a brilliant red. Thankfully, he didn’t press the issue and continued talking.
Once it was over, I explained to Mr. Cherry that I thought parents were supposed to attend and I was sorry. Still, I didn’t turn around, praying that no one was laughing at Sam or at me.
Once the coast was clear, I got out of there and drove to work.
I feared Sam’s arrival home that night, that he would tell me I humiliated him and what was I doing there anyway. But he said nothing. I said nothing about it either.
Fast forward to today.
On my list of errands was to secure tickets for some friends and me to attend a 20-year celebration of the local Christian Moody radio station that we enjoy listening to. There will be a national speaker and music. The party will be held at a local large church 10 minutes or so from my house.
I decided to just pop into the station and pick up the tickets. As I pulled into the parking lot, I noted that there was a staff entrance, and what appeared to be a front entrance with the sidewalk cleared off nicely. I got the front door half open when a man walking through the lobby looked at me and said, “Can I help you?”
I told him I was there about tickets. The receptionist then took over. “Oh, we don’t have them here. You need to order them online.”
I told her I’d figure it out and turned toward the door.
Maybe I hesitated or simply looked pitiful, but she offered to go ahead and process the order for me online and print the tickets. “Oh, that would be great,” I told her. As she worked, I leaned over and knocked over a knick-knack on her desk. Twice.
Still, she completed the task, took my money and handed me the tickets. I thanked her profusely.
“So, do you have a lot of people stop in here for the tickets?” I asked.
“No, you’re the first,” she answered.
Seems about right.