Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pearl Returns to Work

Pearl Prestwich lives in a modest brick bungalow surrounded by lilac and a white picket fence on Tulip Lane in Cloverdale. It has been her home for fifty one years, forty five of which were spent with her beloved Aurthur, recently passed.

Pearl and Aurthur lost much of their savings in the great recession, leaving Pearl in a financial situation requiring her to seek part time employment. She knew her advanced age would be one factor against her. After all, who would want to hire someone squarely in the winter of her life? And not having worked for many many years, Pearl’s self confidence in her talents and abilities lacked a firm foundation. Facing rejection on a daily basis was something Pearl feared.

One Tuesday evening, while dozing in front of her gas fire and the company of Cloverdale Weekend Television, Pearl happened to wake long enough to hear someone talking about jobs in this tough economy. She sat up in her chair, reached for her glasses from the side table and watched. One thing the commentator said struck a chord. He said the successful job applicant was one that effectively used his or her network of family and friends.

Pearl thought for a moment, then reached for a tablet and pen and made a list of family and friends. Next to each name she wrote where they worked, and starred the places she thought she’d like to work. Half way down the paper she wrote her great nephew’s name. Next to it she wrote ‘Cloverdale Bank’. That was it. Working in a bank was something she could do. After all, money hasn't changed much over her lifetime. She got out of her chair, walked to the kitchen and looked through the various scrapes of paper hanging by magnets from the refrigerator door. She found her great nephew's name on the back of an electricity bill from 2002.

Two weeks later Pearl arrived at the bank for her first day of work. Her great nephew was the manager of the Cloverdale branch and, although reluctant to do so, gave her a job as a data entry clerk. Her first hour was spent with her supervisor. He introduced her to the rest of the employees, took her to her desk, gave her a crash course in the data entry computer program then left her with a stack of papers and instructions to have them digitized by noon.

Twenty minutes later Pearl was at the supervisor's desk asking for Windex and a rag. Apparently she'd tried to correct a misspelled word on her computer with a bottle of white out found at the back of her desk drawer. Her supervisor sat in complete shock. Pearl was told to take the rest of the day off. She spent most of it working in her garden and worrying about what she’d done. By dinner time her stomach was so knotted she managed to keep down one bowl of Campbell’s tomato soup and nothing else.

The following morning there was a note on her desk asking her to go straight to her great nephew’s office. When she emerged twenty minutes later she had a new job at the bank, something not so technical. She was Cloverdale Bank's new part time security guard. She had a chair near the front door so she wouldn't have to spend endless hours on her feet, she had a very nice and official uniform with badge, and she was issued a fake gun. Fake as in it wouldn’t fire but very realistic in appearance and weight.

That next day Pearl was at her post near the front door. She kindly greeted all the customers as they entered the bank and had the pleasure of giving suckers and balloons to the children. It was a perfect job, and best of all it came with a raise. There was one drawback though. The weight of the pistol hanging on her right hip pulled her to the right whenever she walked.

Pearl was frustrated the first day after spending twenty minutes walking various trajectories and angles just to reach the bathroom. On the second day her mental math improved. She was able to calculate the circle’s arc well enough to reach the bathroom on the third attempt. Today she has it mastered. For instance, the staff break room is at Pearl's 3 o'clock. She knows that if she wants to go to the staff room to have a cup of coffee for her morning break she starts her journey by walking to her 1 o’clock. The gun's pull on her right hip will place her on a circular journey landing her right at the staff break room in front of the coffee machine.

Pearl is happy, her great nephew is happy and life in our sleepy village moves on.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cory Perry, Cloverdale's King of Trick or Treaters

Cory Perry, King of the Trick or Treaters

Cory Perry is Cloverdale’s Champion Trick or Treater. For the last three years his candy income on Halloween has far exceeded all other competitors, winning him the Trick or Treater of the Year Award sponsored by Cloverdale’s very own Humbug Confectioners on the High Street.

“Last Halloween I took in almost two full pillowcases of candy,” Cory said just before leaving his home for this year’s trick or treating. Cory, along with many of Cloverdale’s other faithful Christians went on their sugary quests on Saturday night, October 30th, instead of Sunday night, October 31st.
“You shouldn't be trick or treating on a Sunday, besides I'm dressed as a devil and that wouldn't be right either,” he explained when asked why he was standing on the Wheezer’s doorstep at 2:30 P.M. Saturday trick or treating.

Most of the village’s children joined Cory. Many did it out of respect for their preacher's advice, while others were not quite so pious. They schemed to trick or treat both Saturday and Sunday nights, thus making this year’s Halloween a two night ghoulish holiday.

Cory understood this two night Halloween could cost him his crown as King of the Trick or Treaters, considering he would only go out Saturday night and not Sunday. His only chance to win was to start trick or treating early Saturday afternoon. He knew his decision to start right after lunch could result in a few slammed doors and upset neighbors - but it was an embarrassment he could live.

Cory’s first stop was the Nearly There Home for the Elderly and Confused. He moved from room to room up and down the halls collecting generous handfuls of candy, an advantage for being the first trick or treater of the season. Some of the residents knew it wasn't Halloween, but they didn't mind - any and all company was welcome.
Cory found a few surprises in his bag mixed in with the candy - such as a set of dentures and several pills later identified as sedatives and stool softeners.

It took Cory roughly thirty minutes to canvass the rest home. The weight of his pillow case was impressive. The amount of time it took him to get this much candy over such a short period of time made Cory think. Then he had a brilliant idea. He rushed home, changed his costume from a devil to a overly sunburned swimmer and returned for another round up and down the halls of the Rest Home. No one was the wiser and Cory came out well on his way to another championship.

Later in the day several of Cory’s friends from school and his Sunday School class joined him on Elm Street. Elm Street was the Trick or Treaters‘ heaven. This is where many of the village’s movers and shakers lived. They were the elite, the rich, the snobs. Every child in Cloverdale knew the folks on Elm Street always tried to out do each other on Halloween.

Last year, while trick or treating up and down Elm, Cory came up with another brilliant idea. He asked his friend to hold his bag while he rushed to Humbugs to buy a King Sized Willy Wonka Bar. He and his friends finished the street after he returned. Their plan was simple, on every doorstep his friends would shout "Trick or Treat" while Cory nibbled on the King Sized Candy Bar. Cory knew the residents would see the gigantic bar and want to know who was giving them out.

“Who is giving away king sized candy bars?” they asked, often in a shocked tone.

“Why, your awesome neighbor down the street," Cory answered pointing down the street. "Don’t know their name but they are the best!".

Cory and his friends knew their scheme would work and told all the other trick or treaters what they'd done. They all knew that next year's Halloween would be mean an abundance of King Sized Candy Bars on Elm Street.

Saturday night proved Cory right. He and his friends scored big time on Elm Street. Almost every home handed out King Sized Chocolate Bars. Word spread quickly throughout the village and within 30 minutes the street was congested with traffic. The village Constable was called out to help move the cars along. It was awesome.

Every trick or treater on the streets Saturday night gave Cory Perry high 5's for what he'd done. Cory was pleased his plan worked out as well as it had.

At 6:30 P.M. Cory made his first stop at Humbugs to have his pillow case weighed for the competition. It came in at just over twelve pounds. The employees and patrons cheered while the other trick or treaters moaned. Their bags weighed far less.

Cory knew he was running out of time. His parents wanted him home by 9:00 P.M. and the math just wasn’t there. Considering he had two and one half hours to go and at least another bag needing to be filled, Cory realized the two night trick or treaters could beat him.

That's when Cory had another brilliant idea. His first stop after Humbugs was his fifth grade teacher’s home.
“Can I borrow some crayons and paper?” he asked. He rushed into the house, took the paper and crayons, and made a badge. It read “Trick or Treating for the Children of Haiti”
“What’s this all about?” his teacher asked.
“I’m going to give everything from this bag to the earthquake victims of Haiti?” Cory answered.

His teacher told him how proud she was of him and pinned the badge on his costume. A moment later Cory was off with his friends. The teacher picked up the her phone and called Cloverdale’s local newspaper and Cloverdale Weekend Television. Twenty minutes later a reporter from the newspaper found Cory on the road and took his picture. A few minutes later a reporter and news truck from Cloverdale Weekend Television found him. Anyone watching CWT Saturday night had live up to date coverage of this remarkable young man as he worked so hard to bring a bit of sugary happiness to the poor children of Haiti.

Cory’s hunch proved spot on. With television camera’s running, Cory’s stops resulted in handfulls of candy poured into his pillowcase. Some family’s went the extra mile for the television camera and included money with their generous candy donations.

At 9:00 P.M. Cory arrived at Humbug’s for his final weigh in. His parents were waiting to take him home. He walked in with one full pillowcase. His other four full pillowcases were carried by the Constable, his teacher and two friends.

There was no doubt. Cory Perry was King of Trick or Treaters for 2010. No one could beat him. The shop erupted in cheers. Cory’s mom gave him a big hug and kiss. His dad shook his hand and said, “Well done son.” Flash bulbs lit up the shop’s display cases. It was a night never to be forgotten.

Cory Perry was indeed a legend.

Songs of Praise. Cloverdale Weekend Televison. Pie Jesu

The Weather for Cloverdale and the Shire.
Sunday arrived cooler than expected. Warming is expected into the mid day with calm breezes and the slightest chance for rain. Periods of sun throughout the morning with cold expected in the P.M. This is a brilliant start to a week of beautiful skies, moderate temperatures and little precipitation.
Songs of Praise is brought to you by Cloverdale's Council of Churches. Remember to take a moment to thank God for his blessings.