Thursday, November 05, 2020

Ups and downs

 Had a weird and slightly upsetting occurrence on the way home today. I turned the corner to get on to the cross-street to my house (I live on Fourth; this would be Mulberry I was turning on to) and I had to stop short: there was someone sitting in my lane. I guess they thought it was the left turn lane, though there's a marked left-turn lane there, I take it every morning going to work.

So there I sat, bewildered at first - wait, what? Could I be in the wrong somehow? Am I having a brain cramp and going the wrong way*?

No, of course it was that they were in the wrong lane.

(*One of my flaws is I automatically assume I am wrong in any situation. Like, I spend a lot of time double-checking the calculations I do on the biostats homework keys when the first person gets a question wrong, just to be sure *I* didn't make an error)

But I was stuck there, the butt of my car hanging out to where traffic would shortly be going, and I didn't know what to do. I desperately looked at the person - I couldn't pull back out and go another way, I wasn't going to go AROUND them (through the left-turn lane, which would me going the wrong way and would be bad if someone ELSE were coming to use that lane).

Finally, the person VERY SLOWLY backed up and VERY SLOWLY moved over into the lane but it was nerve-wracking and kind of upsetting. 

I'm going to be charitable and assume it was someone from out of town, who didn't know where they were going, or were worried about something, and they forgot and thought the street was one-way or something (A few of our streets are, but as far as I can remember, none of the east-west ones are, just a couple of the north-south ones). 

But little things like that get to me more now. I didn't exactly cry driving the rest of the way home but I was close. 


But then tonight was (virtual, over Zoom) AAUW meeting. Typically we have a program, often from someone providing a local community service, and tonight it was the man who heads up the regional Boys and Girls Clubs program - in the five or so years he's been here, they've gone from one club (I think here in town) to 14 spread across the region. They shut down (went virtual) for 2 months earlier this year but now have protocols in place to hae the kids back in. 

I wasn't fully aware of what the clubs did but they really do provide a service - childcare after school for working families, and tutoring for kids, and in some cases, support for kids coming from difficult family situations (something like 10% of the kids are in foster care). And they fed lots and lots of kids brown-bag meals during the lockdown period, some of whom might not have got such good nutrition.

And I needed to hear that. I need more stories like that to combat the bad stuff I see in the news - here is just this guy, a fairly humble man, just doing the job he feels called to do, probably not making a lot of money doing it. But he's making a difference and it's pretty clear that he is. 

It also seems like he's really added a lot to the program since he came - they have a gym for the kids, and a "teen hang out room" that is supervised, and a place where they can show movies. And like I said, the first thing they do when the kids arrive from school is set them up to work on their homework, and there is help available if the kids don't understand something or are having trouble with an assignment. 

And I realized now - I'm getting a Christmas bonus this year and my plan was to donate part of it to a good cause, well, here it is. I know they can always use funds for supplies. 

But yes: more of that please, I want to hear more about people who are just doing their thing and are making the world a better place, even if they're not widely lauded or famous for it.

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