Monday, December 28, 2015

Ethical Question

I don't know why I feel compelled to write this, other than I see so many articles and memes about paying McDonalds workers as if burger flipping is a skilled lifetime career. And also because the last 2 jobs I had (for a total of 15 years) before I retired seldom provided raises, and when there WAS a raise, it was 15-25 cents/hour... not even CLOSE to the cost of living. More of a token raise. I wanted to say, "Poor ole company. If 25 cents is what you think I'm worth, or what you can afford, maybe you ought to keep it.  After taxes, I won't net more than $100 a year anyway.

Where was I going with this?

Oh yes! I remember...  There is  a saying that goes something like, "Do something you love, and you'll never work a day in your life."

Nursing was not what I wanted to do. NOT my idea of a fun job, and certainly not anything I loved.  I remember one job that every day, when I got to the parking deck, I would begin shaking, crying, and feeling nauseated. It took all the courage and strength I could muster to walk the quarter mile from my car to the time clock. Hate doesn't begin to describe my feelings about that job, or many others I've had. They paid great, but boyohboy, were they HORRIBLE jobs. Horrible work environment, horrible supervisors/bosses, horrible hours.

Then I discovered teaching. OMG! I LOVED it! It didn't pay very much, so I still had to work some weekend shifts over at the Brookwood torture chamber, but Monday through Friday, I was in job heaven!

With that in mind, think about this ethical question:

If you come to work at my McDonalds franchise as a crew member, and you know the pay is $8.25/hour, how hard will you work for that money? 

I'm not making any value judgements here, but I ask you to really think about that. If it were ME, I have to say I would work every minute, every hour. My inner adult requires me to do my best - whether it's as a McDonalds crew member, or as a nurse at Brookwood Prison, or as a teacher at Virginia College... regardless of the pay. I knew what the pay was when I took the job, and I agreed to give an honest hour's work for THAT pay. 

OK. Now, what if there was a miracle, and all of a sudden, the pay DOUBLED? What if the McDonalds crew member job now pays $16/hour? Will I work  twice as hard for double the pay? I WILL? Then I was lying when I said I would give it my "all" at $8.25/hour, wasn't I?  

Will I work twice as hard at Brookwood Iron Maiden for $60/hour? Well, no. And not for $100/hour. I'm already at my limit. But at Virginia College? For $50/hour? Again, no. I'm already "working" at maximum capacity, but enjoying every second of every minute. 

If I cheat my employer of my time and talent because of the pay, then how ethical am I? I contend that if I value myself at all, and I agree to work, whatever I do, I will do just the same for that pay, or double that pay. If McDonalds pays $8 or $16 or $25 or $50/hour, the worker will still do the same work, at the same pace, because that's who he/she is. 

So you say, "It's better to cry in a BMW than on a bicycle." 

I say, "Crying sucks the same, wherever you do it."

Friday, December 4, 2015

Hate and Fear - It's for Everyone.

I am not on a bandwagon here. Like some of my peers, I have mixed feelings, and I don't have any answers. This is just one woman's perspective.

"He who doesn't understand history is doomed to repeat it" is a familiar statement these days. So let me give you some historical facts:

Pre-WWII, many Jews, and other groups in Germany were being abused, garnered in remote camps, starved and displaced. "Travesty" and "tragedy" doesn't even begin to describe the horrors perpetrated by Adolph Hitler and his henchmen. As my brother, red-eyed and shaking,  said when we exited the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., "Is there any way I can UNSEE what I've just seen?"

From 1938 to 1941, the world had an inkling of what was going on over there in Germany, but nobody - not one country - organized any specific rescue plan for the victims. In 1941,  President Roosevelt instituted a policy for refugees/displaced persons to come to the U.S., but that didn't happen. In short, by 1952, 137,450 Jewish refugees had been rehomed here, over a fourteen year period. That is not quite 10,000 per year. You can read the details here, and I hope you do:

But here is one quote from the article:

"While some American activists sincerely intended to assist refugees, serious obstacles to any relaxation of US immigration quotas included public opposition to immigration during a time of economic depression, xenophobia, and antisemitic feelings in both the general public and among some key government officials."

Now, we are in the throes of another world refugee crisis.  Is history repeating itself?

I PERSONALLY understand the situation we are in. I am retired, so I know the limitations and problems of surviving with limited resources (Social Security), limited and expensive healthcare (Medicare), fuel costs (including not just gas for the car, but gas and electricity for my home, which still has 5 years left on the mortgage), food costs, and medication costs. I know I'm better off than the vast majority of retired people here, though, because I have almost $14,000 in my 401k, and over $2000 in my savings account. Most have no savings or retirement plan at all. 

I'm sharing those personal details so you know I'm not sitting up in Mt Brook or somewhere, preaching from an elite perspective. I'm not homeless, either. I'm in between those extremes, like most everybody else in America.

So, here we are, still in economic depression, still sporting xenophobia (fear of people from other countries, particularly those from Syria), and now with antimuslim feelings "in both the general public and among some key government officials."

After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the United States rounded up everyone of Japanese origin and herded them to encampments. Why? Because we were afraid the American Japanese would turn on us and begin eliminating our other citizenry. Can you say, "kneejerk reaction"?

We haven't started displacing our Muslim citizens into camps yet, thank God (or Allah), but almost everyone over the age of 3 is terrified of them. 

Many governors, including Alabama's, have said, "Syrian refugees are not allowed in my state," as if there is a Great Wall around the states with armed guards checking drivers licenses or something when people cross the State line. Last week, when I went to Tennessee, there was no wall, but there WAS a sign that said, "Welcome to Tennessee". When I came home, there still was no wall, no armed guards, no "Alabama-Resident-Checkin". There was a HUGE sign that said, "Welcome to Alabama the Beautiful". Beautiful for ME, maybe. But beautiful for everyone coming into Alabama, especially if they're not a bonafide resident? I'm not so sure.

I'm as afraid of terrorists as the next citizen, but I'm equally wary/afraid of any people wandering around  parking lots, unfamiliar cars parked on my dead-end street, and knocks on my door when I'm not expecting visitors. I glance in my back seat before I get in my car, I get my key out of my purse before I leave the building, and I try not to park next to vans without windows. I'm not paranoid. I'm just aware.

I admit I'm not afraid of the Muslim attendants at the Shell station or the Marathon station in my neighborhood. I'm not afraid of the Muslim customers at our Brown Bag mission (incidentally, it wasn't Muslim customers that shot the lady at Four Winds. It was white male customers, who had also attended services at the church). I'm not afraid of the Muslims that live behind me, whose children come out to pet Major Big Dog when I walk him around the block. I wasn't afraid of the Muslims who were eating dinner at Ming's Cuisine last month. (Didn't know they liked Chinese food. I guess some of them do.) I'm not afraid of the Muslims shopping at Winn Dixie. And I'm not afraid of the Muslims walking around the Galleria. Do you think I should be? Then let me ask you this:

How can you identify a Muslim if she/he isn't wearing the traditional/cultural headwear? How can you identify Syrians from those from any other Middle Eastern country? If I'm afraid of Muslims, should I also be afraid of Baptists? What about the Westboro Baptists? How do I differentiate between them and the Vestavia Baptists? What about Japanese? They might be carrying a WWII grudge because of their grandparents. Then there are the Jews we didn't let take refuge here 70 years ago. Oh my goodness! How do I identify THEM, if their name doesn't end with -stein?

And, since I'm Caucasian, maybe I should be afraid of ANYONE with dark skin, be they of Middle Eastern, African, Israeli, Pakistani or South American descent. 

In fact, maybe I should stay home, lock my doors, and watch out for the Mexicans across the street. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Please Don't Eat the Christmas Tree

One of the most observed rituals of the Christmas season is decorating for the holiday. Most Christians, and many non-Christians adorn their homes with lights and festive plants in bright colors.  And every year, about 25,000 people are injured by this cheery greenery.

Although it is difficult to find exact statistics, The New York Poison Control Center reported that every year, about 20% of all calls it receives involve plants, so while holiday plants are great gifts, and everyone loves them, it is important to be aware of the dangers, both to children and to pets. Like you do with everything else in your home, keep toxic plants out of reach.

Let's take a look at the most popular Christmas plants:

Pointsettia: This beautiful Christmas flower has gotten a bad rap over the years. While it isn't something you want to put in a salad, it also isn't particularly dangerous. While eating a few poinsettia leaves might cause nausea or vomiting, research shows that only ingestion of very large amounts of this plant may be harmful. If you rub the milky sap from the plant on your skin, you might get an itchy rash. Beyond that, poinsettias are unlikely to cause a problem for your children or your pets.

Holly: The stiff green leaves and bright red berries are often very attractive to children. In many homes, holly is a traditional decoration for Christmas. Since medieval times, the plant has carried a Christian symbolism (remember the hymn, "The Holly and the Ivy"?) Well,  holly berries are highly toxic. Ingestion of even twenty berries could result in death. Though the bright red berries are the part of the plant most commonly consumed, the bark, leaves and seeds are also toxic. You might have heard that chocolate is lethal to dogs. Well, the poison compound in holly is in the same caffeine family as the toxic chemical in chocolate, but many times more concentrated in holly parts. DO NOT EAT HOLLY!

Amaryllis: An amaryllis bulb is a common holiday gift. Amaryllis bulbs (as well as daffodil and narcissus bulbs) may be forced to bloom indoors, to produce showy holiday blooms. Eating the bulbs can cause abdominal pain, cardiac arrhythmias, and convulsions. The leaves are slightly less poisonous, but shouldn't be eaten either. Amaryllis bulbs are more likely to be eaten by pets than by children, so keep them out of reach of both your pets and your kids.

Jerusalem Cherry: The Jerusalem cherry is actually a species of nightshade. The fruit looks and tastes like a cherry tomato. Kids might eat enough to cause nausea and vomiting, but generally it is not life-threatening to humans. Pets are a different story. It is highly toxic to animals, and probably birds too. Do NOT allow your pet to to eat Jerusalem cherries.

Boxwood: Commonly used in holiday wreathes and draping, the twigs and leaves of boxwood contain a toxic alkaloid. Ingestion could result in severe stomach problems, convulsions, and even respiratory failure. Do NOT eat boxwood.

Christmas trees:  Coniferous trees maybe toxic if eaten in very large amounts. Small amounts may cause irritation and stomach upset, or can cause aspiration or obstruction. Since the needles or foliage of a Christmas tree are generally sharp, it is unlikely that either pets or children will chow down on one. A skin rash may result from coming in contact with the sap, though. (In spite  of what Euel Gibbons espoused back in the 1970s, pine cones are  not toxic but are not edible either.) So discourage your pets and children from snacking on the Christmas tree.

I saved the best for last, so you would read this far.

Mistletoe: This is the most powerful Christmas plant of all. It makes holiday romance democratic, by making everyone equally kissable - friends, strangers, and distant cousins. Wander beneath a sprig of mistletoe, and like it or not, you become fair game to anyone whose lips are within range. And it is unarguably the most interesting of the Christmas plants.

The scientific name is phoradendron, meaning "thief of the tree" in Greek. While not a true  parasite, it comes close, sinking its roots into a host tree and leeching nutrients for photosynthesis. The translation of the word  mistletoe isn't romantic either.  Mistal means "dung" and  tan means "twig", so actually mistletoe means "dung on a twig".

Mistletoe contains a toxin that,  when consumed by humans, can cause blurred vision, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and even death. ALL parts of the mistletoe plant, including the berries, are poisonous. Eating one or two berries probably will not cause a huge problem for a child, but can cause death in your pet. If your child consumes mistletoe, it is a good idea to seek medical advice.

So there's the lowdown on the most common Christmas plants. If you think your child may have ingested a plant, call the Poison Control Center.

My gift to you is this instruction: RIGHT NOW. While you're thinking about it: Post the number for the National Poison Control Center on your refrigerator. Put it in your cell phone. Memorize it.
It is  800-222-1222. You're welcome, and Merry Christmas!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Taxation Without Representation

My daddy always said, "Security is the opposite of Freedom" and maybe he was right. His examples were a prisoner who is totally secure - fed, clothed, and with a bed - has no freedom. On the other hand, a homeless person, wandering the streets, is totally free, but has no security whatsoever.

I know these are extremes, but considering even my own choices, the concept seems to work very well.

In 2002, Cahaba Heights, then in Jefferson County, voted to become part of Vestavia Hills. Those of us who could see that we were giving up freedom for security (and property values) protested the annexation loud and clear. But we were outnumbered on voting day, and our quiet little community became the slums of Vestavia Hills. (The per capita income in Vestavia Hills is just over $52,000/year. The per capita income in Cahaba Heights is just over $28,000.)

Our property value did increase, but that comes into play only if one wants to sell her house. For those of us who DON'T want to leave their homes, the property taxes skyrocketed. In my case, my annual tax bill went from $99/year to over $1500/year. Quite a hefty increase for a retired person!

"But look," the proponents said, "You don't have to pay for garbage pickup ($15/month) anymore, and no more fire dues!" ($99/year)

For me, and many other residents, the tax burden is hard, but for the dozens of Mom & Pop businesses that had been in the community for 50-plus years, the business license burden was unbearable. In the second year of being Vestavia, most of those closed, leaving just a handful of them after 2004. Now there are only 2 left, and one of those is moving to Hoover soon. They just can't afford to stay in business here.

So, with that background in mind, consider what is happening now:

A certain developer wants to build a 4-story apartment complex adjacent to Cahaba Heights Elementary School, which will have shops on the first floor, and living spaces on the other 3 floors. As soon as this was on the City Council agenda, hundreds of (formerly) Cahaba Heights residents wrote, called, and emailed their councilpersons in protest. Including me.

Of the 8 councilpersons I emailed, I got no reply from 4 of them. Two of them replied, "Thank you for your input." One replied that there was no such building planned, OR on the council agenda to consider, and one was on vacation and automatically replied as such.

The day of the vote, City Hall was flooded with (formerly) Cahaba Heights residents, protesting the development. The school principle spoke against such a building on the school playground. Hundreds of students and their parents lined Highway 31 with signs and cards protesting the building. The council room was so crowded with protesters that people took turns moving in and out so everyone would have a chance to hear some of the proceedings, which lasted from about 5:30pm until almost 9:00pm.

There was no support from (formerly) Cahaba Heights residents, or from anyone else, other than the representatives of the development company wanting to build the apartments. Apparently the residents of our (formerly) quiet little community are having second thoughts about their "security". Hmmmm.

Well, around 9pm the City Council voted 6-2 to allow the 81-unit apartment to be build on the back of the Cahaba Heights Elementary School property, adjacent to the football field.

It seems like I remember that our country has already had issues with "taxation without representation". Now it comes home to (formerly) Cahaba Heights, which has no representatives on the City Council. Maybe it's time for another "tea party" over here in Vestavia Hills! Or maybe I'll run for City Council. At least I answer my emails.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Nobody Can Do It Alone

In August I attended a Congregational Health seminar that was so informative, interesting and uplifting that I want to share some of it with you.

The pervasive theme of the seminar was "You can't do it alone" - "it" being everything from work to worship. (This WAS a church-centered seminar, ya know). It made me think of when I was taking the training course, and the Debbie Duke said, "You will need a team for your health ministry. Even Jesus didn't do it alone. He had disciples."

But the repeating scripture reference was Mark 2:1-12, the story of Jesus healing the paralytic. One of the points of this story is that the paralyzed man couldn't come to Jesus alone. It required the work, ingenuity and faith of four of his friends.

So we were asked this question, and I ask you now: Do you have four friends who will "carry" you if and when you can't move? If you are "paralyzed" by loss of a job, death of a loved one, or other life-shattering event? Think about it. Are there four people in your life who will come get your children and care for them indefinitely when you have to go across the country to care for your mother? Four people who, when you need help moving, simply ask, "What time do you want me there?" Four people who will offer to pay your power and water bills when you're out of work and at the end of your savings? Four people who will stay at your bedside when you're sick and helpless? Four people who will give you their spare room when you lose your house? Four people who will "carry" you simply because they love you?

I asked the hard questions first, just to get you thinking. The easy question, of course, is: Do you have four friends who will carry you spiritually when you're paralyzed by fear, loss, helplessness, depression or sorrow? Four people who will pray for or with you when you're unsure where your next meal is coming from? Four people who will give you a list of doctors who specialize in your malady? Four people who will call a plumber for you when your toilet is clogged? Four people who will bring a covered dish when you lose a loved one?

I'm not a Bible scholar, as you well know by now, but I think this story probably has profound and concrete lessons for us, beyond the obvious and stated spiritual lesson that Jesus forgives us of our sins because of faith. In Mark's story, the infirm man was apparently paralyzed in all ways - physically, spiritually, emotionally. He couldn't move, AND and he didn't want to. "Y'all just go on without me," he probably moaned to his friends. "I don't want to be a burden."

In the story, the friends did not say, "Well, Don't worry. We will all pray for you, because we see you are helpless to help yourself." They did not go get him a pair of crutches and tell him, "We will help you get up on them, and you can follow us to where Jesus is teaching." They did not say, "You just lie there. We know you can't move. We will report back to you this evening, and tell you what Jesus said."

What they DID do was find a stretcher, heave him up onto it, physically tote him through the streets, up and down the hills, and through the (possibly) jeering crowds. Then, finding that it was impossible to get the man up to where Jesus was teaching, they found ropes, climbed up on the roof, heaved the paralytic strapped to the stretcher up onto the roof, dug a huge hole in the roof, and lowered him gently through the hole they dug, to a spot right in front of Jesus. As one speaker put it, "It was a real commitment to dig into some stranger's roof and make a man-sized hole in it. If they are wrong, they will be the biggest laughingstocks in town, and small towns have long memories. If Jesus disapproves of this at all, their paralyzed friend would be a helpless human pinata swinging in the living room of a stranger."

But none of that stopped them. Faith.  THAT is the kind of FRIENDSHIP I'm talking about. Are there four of those on your contact list? I know I have two, aside from family. That's a start.

But here's the REALLY most important question, and maybe the hardest: Are there four people who, if they were "paralyzed" you would, without question or hesitation, "carry" them? Are there four people you know and love enough to faithfully and quietly pay their power bill, do their laundry when their washer breaks down, feed their children and do their dishes, store their books, buy groceries for them, or let them live in your spare room? Thankfully, in the Bible story, it was because of the friends' faith, not the paralytic's, that Jesus granted forgiveness and healing.

Are YOU a friend with unfailing faith? Somebody needs you to be. Nobody can do it alone.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

National Veterans Day History

National Veterans Day began in Birmingham, Alabama on November 11, 1947. Many people born and raised here don't know that, so I'm going to give you a brief history of NVD so you are aware of one of the WONDERFUL events that Birmingham enjoys.

President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day for November 11, 1919. It was to honor and remember the brave warriors of WWI. Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect.

President Calvin Coolidge later  made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday: "a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day'." In Birmingham, every November 11, the World Peace luncheon is held, in honor of the original intent.

In 1945, World War II veteran Raymond Weeks from Birmingham, Alabama, had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who died in World War I. Weeks led a delegation to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, who supported the idea of National Veterans Day. Weeks led the first national celebration in 1947 in Alabama and annually until his death in 1985. 

On May 26, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill establishing November 11 as a holiday into law. It had been eight and a half years since Weeks held his first Armistice Day celebration for all veterans in Birmingham.

Congress amended the bill on June 1, 1954, replacing "Armistice" with "Veterans," and it has been known as Veterans Day since.

In 1982, President Reagan honored Raymond Weeks at the White House, with the Presidential Citizenship Medal for being the driving force behind the national holiday. Elizabeth Dole, who prepared the briefing for President Reagan, determined Weeks as the "Father of Veterans Day."

Birmingham's Veterans Day parade is still the largest in the world. In Linn Park, at the northwest corner, is a memorial honoring Raymond Weeks, the founder of National Veterans Day, and every November 10, at 4:30p.m. there is a ceremonial wreath-laying at the Weeks Memorial. 

As an interesting sidenote, some people use an apostrophe in "Veterans", and it is acceptable to write "Veteran's" or "Veterans' ", but officially there is no apostrophe. It is not a day that belongs to veterans; It is a day for honoring all veterans.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Encounter with Birmingham's Finest

My friends know that I'm not a whiner. I'm not a victim. I am responsible for my own fate/circumstance.

Well, except for this situation in which I find myself with Officer Owens, a Birmingham Policeman, and I'm not sure how to handle it or what to do about it. I'll be as succinct as possible, but unless you know the circumstances surrounding it, you can't understand it. So here goes:

On February 7, while driving to Aaron's house to pick up his laptop, I ran over a fire hydrant that was lying in the road. It was old and rusty, so it probably fell off the back of a city truck. Anyway, it messed up the right front tire and wheel, and bounced off something under the car. I pulled into a driveway and onto the sidewalk in front of a house. (This was about the 4000 block of Clairmont Avenue.) I called Aaron to let him know I couldn't come for his laptop, but he brought it to me, along with his car, so I could get home after I handled MY car, and had a friend take him back home.

I pulled his car behind the fire hydrant that was still in the road, since I couldn't lift it, to be sure nobody else hit it. Leaving the car running, and the headlights and taillights and emergency flashers on, I call 911 for an accident report for my car. While waiting for the police, I called USAA to see about a tow, and to check benefits (repair, rental, etc.) As I'm chatting with the USAA rep, I see in the rear view mirror a car go through the 42nd Street light (about 3 blocks away) and barrel toward me. As it got closer, I realized the driver was oblivious to me, and wasn't slowing at all. I said to the USAA rep, "A car is coming, and it doesn't look like it's slowing." A few seconds later, I screamed into the phone, "OH SHIT! I'M GOING TO GET HIT!" and the car plowed into my rear so hard and fast that it knocked the shock absorbers and back wheels off the car.

Miraculously I was unhurt, except for being very shook up (and quite sore for a couple of weeks). The collision knocked the front of the car up onto the curb, and the other car was knocked up on the curb on the other side of the street. A girl (I would say mid-20s) wobbled out of the car and weaved across the street. "Are you ok?" she slurred. I assured her I was OK, and she got back into her car.

Since the police still hadn't responded to my call, I called them again. This time he came, approximately 10 minutes later. Parking behind me, he passed my winow and said, "I'll need to see your license and insurance information," and headed over to the other car.

About five minutes later, a firetruck and an ambulance arrived. Firemen and paramedics jumped out of their vehicles and came over to me with, "Are you hurt? Do you need to go to the hospital?" I said no. I was OK. So they went to the girl's car, loaded her on a stretcher, and took her away.

The policeman then came back to my car and asked what happened. I told him the whole story that I've just told you, and handed him my license and insurance card.

His first comment was, "Where did you hit the fire hydrant?"

I said, "Right back there. It was lying in the road."

He said, "It wasn't there an hour ago. Where was it when you hit it?"

I consulted my phone for the time of my first 911 call and said, "I hit it over an hour ago. It was lying in the road before that." (A while later, when neighbors started getting up and coming out to see, one man said, "See that oil spot back there? The hydrant had to have been in the road long enough for the oil to have leaked out of the top of it.")

He smirked and said, "I see you jumped the curb and hit that little tree over there."

I told him, "No. I didn't. I pulled into that driveway and onto the sidewalk."

"NO. YOU HIT THE TREE!" He repeated loudly, and walked over to the little tree and picked up a headlight on the ground. Carrying it over his head like Vulcan's torch, he marched over to the front of my car (on the sidewalk) and looked back and forth at the two headlights still on my car. Then he looked at the headlight in his hand, and again at the two on my car, as if he couldn't figure out where the third headlight was supposed to have been.

When he couldn't determine where the headlight had come from, but certainly not from my car, he returned to his car, and I called USAA back. I knew Aaron's car was a total loss, but mine looked repairable. USAA called a tow truck and gave me instructions about a rental.

The policeman finished whatever he was doing in his car, and came back over to where I was cleaning stuff out of Aaron's car and putting it in my car. It was now daylight.

He said, "I've called Weil for three wreckers. They will be here shortly." I told him USAA had already called a wrecker for my car.

"You HAVE to use Weil!" he said.

"NO. I DON'T." I said.





We were at a standoff, when three Weil trucks arrived. He told the closest driver, "Get that one first," indicating my car.

"No," I said. "I have another tow coming for THAT car."

The little policeman now looked like Rumplestilskin, hopping about and yelling. "YOU HAVE TO USE WEIL! AND BESIDES, YOU CAN'T LEAVE A CAR IN SOMEONE'S FRONT YARD ALL DAY! AND I CAN'T STAY HERE ALL DAY WAITING FOR SOME TOW TRUCK!"

About that time, the lady who lived there came outside, saw me and my friend (who I had called and who had arrived by then) and yelled, "What happened? How long have you been out here in the cold? You want to come inside and have some coffee and use my bathroom?" She also assured Officer Owens that my car could stay in her yard all weekend for all she cared.

The other two cars were being hooked up to tow trucks, and I asked for the other driver's name and insurance info, since she had left before I could ask her. Officer Owens snapped, "It will be on the accident report. You can get that in 72 hours," and then my tow truck arrived.

That's basically what happened. Although I don't have many interactions with policeman, (and aside from the fact that he was the ONLY person who came onto the scene that never once asked if I was OK), this was without a doubt the rudest bully I've ever encountered in law enforcement.

OKAY... so there's THAT. I depended on USAA to handle the cars, repair, rentals, etc... which they did.

Aaron's check for his car came, along with a letter that said, "This is payment in full, minus the $500 deductible."

Wait a minute. Why isn't this girl's insurance paying for his car? So I asked for a copy of the accident report, which USAA emailed to me immediately.

I couldn't believe what I read. The report was basically false. It said I called 911 at 0508 and that he arrived at 0512. I actually called at 0440 the first time, and 0456 the second time. I don't know what time he arrived, but it was a good 10 minutes after the second call. It said that I was "illegally parked in the road" (I wasn't parked at all). It said that the contributing factor was an "unseen object", with me ("Unit 1") being the contributing factor. (I saw her coming 3 blocks away. How could she NOT see me, lit up like 4th of July fireworks? Unless she was either drunk, asleep, or texting and not watching the road?). If I had been changing a flat tire, I would be DEAD. If I had been successful in moving the fire hydrant at the moment she came by, I would be DEAD. If Officer Owens had come when I called the first time, it would be HIS car that was hit, and probably we both would be dead.

Does anyone know what recourse I have about this?

OK. I'm finished. I think I'll contact Chief Roper about this anyway. He is serious about cleaning up the police department, and about deterring crime. And I think he needs to know about Officer Owens' unruly and ill-mannered behavior.