Readers: I seethed along with this one. — L.
SMILE FOR THE MISSING PERSONS FILE! by Ellen Braun
She was all of five feet tall with a charming smile and her weapon of choice was a digital camera. So how did this mother of two ruin my afternoon?
It happened in the magnificent state of Vermont. I was relishing the crisp fresh air of the Green Mountain State when my enjoyment was abruptly shattered. No, this woman did not insult me, nor did she hit me over the head. Here’s the story:
Ms. Camera and I were waiting at the base of an Alpine slide for our children to come down the two-mile slide in their Alpine sleds. Vermont is skiing country, however, in the summertime the ski trails are turned into giant sliding ponds.
Since I’d already accompanied my children about a dozen times, I decided to wait out this round at the base of the mountain. Apparently Ms. Camera had the same idea, and we began chatting as we watched for our children to slide back towards us.
The first five minutes of our conversation went well, and we shared ideas regarding tourist activities in the area. Then Jennifer (as I learned her name to be) turned on her camera and showed me a photo of her 9-year-old daughter.
“She’s beautiful!” I exclaimed.
“Thanks.” She pressed a button for the next picture; her 11-year-old boy. “I take a picture of each of my children every single morning, so in case they get lost I can show a recent photo to the police with the kids dressed in their current clothing.” She must have noticed my eyes change expression and erroneously interpreted it as my avid curiosity about her idea because she started gushing.
“It’s part of our morning ritual,” she continued. “We eat breakfast and then snap a photo, and I keep the camera with me constantly. You never know what might happen, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Something wasn’t right here. I was a little confused and thought a moment about my kids’ routine. They walk from home to the bus. They are supervised all day long at school and come straight home where I am waiting. How many opportunities must this woman’s kids have to get lost that would require a photo every single morning? After a pause I asked, “Do your kids go off on their own a lot? To me, it sounds like a lot of work for the off chance they might get lost.”
“Well, no,” she answered. “It’s not too much work. It just takes a second. I guess it’s not so much getting lost I worry about. It’s all the terrible stuff besides getting lost that can happen!” Maybe Jennifer thought she was being funny with that comment, but as she expounded on several more precautions she takes because she’d rather “be safe than sorry,” my mind was too busy raging to hear her.
I was livid. This mother forces her children to pose for a photo every morning so that she’ll have a current picture for the police, not in case they’re lost, but in case they’re abducted! She kept repeating her mantra, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.” Is it really?
Is it possible that other things are better?
Perhaps it is better to feel optimistic about your day as the sun rises, rather than believing potential kidnappers lurk at every corner?
Maybe it’s better to start the day on a calm note, as opposed to battling potential bogeymen?
Jennifer is entitled to worry and waste a vast amount of digital memory cards on her ridiculous project. However, I refuse to subject myself to that negative pattern of worrying: Life is way too short to waste on thoughts of the imaginary bad guys lurking down the block! — Ellen Braun