Writing 101 Day Twelve: Dark Clouds…

Wow.  She waves to me while I check out. I am at a regular register toward the rear of the store; she is at the “special help” one, much nearer the exit.  My cart is right behind her at the door where the regular guard checks the receipt against the visible merchandise.  She seems to deliberately keep her back turned to me, either embarrassed by the amount of beer she has in her cart (and nothing else), or because she is afraid I will hold her up with  weather chat, or maybe some other reason…

Although she checked out at the closer register, her car is parked much further along the building than mine.  I don’t know her terribly well, but we belong to the same charitable organization on the island, and I either never paid much attention before, or I just assumed she would be the type of person who kept her eyes open and her senses aware when she walked.  I was certain I was being deliberately shunned, despite her enthusiastic waving inside the store.

My car unlocks at the click of the Unlock button on the key, and I work my cart to the hatch of my old island X-Trail to put away my purchases.  Normally, I don’t go to the CostULess by myself any more because I can’t handle heavier objects on my own. Unlike at the local grocery stores, there are no bag boys packing up my stuff  here and steering the cart toward my car, where they pack my purchases into the back.  The grocery is where I go when I’m shopping for heavy objects by myself; the CostULess is where I go for bulk light-weight items like paper towels and tissues.  Today, the only reasons I am here is that I need some quick heat-and-take appetizers for a birthday party we’re attending later in the day, and because I was expecting to see a friend who would be displaying wares from 11 a.m.  I succeed in my purchases mission, but fail to hook up with said friend.  (Later I find out she arrived right around the time I was pulling out of the parking lot. )

The oven is full of finger foods that cook at about the same temperature, and I am in the bedroom changing for the party.  For whatever reason, my thoughts keep returning to what I really think was deliberate ignoring.  Several things come to mind: I have trouble driving unfamiliar roads during the night. My night vision is getting better as I get stronger after months of illness weakened me so much that I almost completely stopped driving, even during the day, unless absolutely necessary.  I opted out of taking any part in the charity group’s only fundraiser because it is really a lot of work, and all I was doing was sleeping when the illness was in full swing.  During some of the worst days of my illness, I also lost my two 5-year-old cats that we’ve had since kittenhood.  The combination threw me into a depression I couldn’t get out of.

Another member of the organization inadvertently started pulling me out of this funk by asking me to edit an annual report for her.  I had done the same the year before, and took on the responsibility, fighting with myself (and an interim flu I caught during a meeting with the stakeholders) each day to tackle a bit more of the report.  By the time I was over the flu more than a week later, I was only half-way done, but I managed to finish it in just two days, including a few re-writes of passages that I lacked information to complete properly.  My fee was two tickets to the group’s fund raising event, which I had asked be set aside for me anyway.  Thus, I managed to attend the event with a friend and neighbor.  The second ticket had been intended for my husband, but he forgot to tell me until four days earlier that “we” were expected at a university event that he had signed us up for.  Just because I asked him for the date of the event a month earlier didn’t mean I was given it.  That’s just the way he operates–no calendar except for class schedules and meetings.  Everything else he forgets about until the last minute.  Thankfully, my friend knew the way and was willing to drive for a good time and a good meal.  Otherwise, I would not have been able to even attend a fun event because it took place on a part of the island I rarely drive to, and that I would never have been able to find on my own–with or without my husband.

So I begin to wonder if the CostULess problem had to do with the fact that I had attended the event without doing any of the work.  No, I think. That can’t be it.  But maybe I ought to take another look at that organization dinner invitation I received via email and responded with a “join” on Facebook.  I open the computer and re-read the invitation.  Hmm…  Maybe I misinterpreted it.  Looking at it again, I note that it specifies a “thank you” celebration for those who worked toward making the event a success.  I had attended, but didn’t do anything toward that evening’s preparations.  That was OK, because I had taken a leave of absence from the group until sometime during the summer, after I get myself back on my feet again.  So really, I don’t think the invitation was supposed to include me.

The next day, I shoot off an email to the group secretary asking if I had RSVP’d in error, and that I am about to change my response.  Apologetically, she responds that this event was, as I had already figured out, only for the persons who worked toward the gala.  So I immediately get into Facebook–which is excruciatingly slow for me here on the island with our poor connections to the internet–and after the forever wait before I can even post a status, I try to access the organization site only to find that I’m shut out altogether.  So I sit here writing this Dark Clouds assignment, and I am thinking, I  paid my dues for the year and am therefore a member in good standing until December when next year’s dues are in.  Is it possible that the leave-of-absence status removes me from the membership list? But we have no policy like that.  (Hell, we don’t even have by-laws or anything else in written form that discusses how the organization works.  Everything is word-of-mouth, passed down, etc.)  Or are there comments related to my RSVP that the secretary does not want me to see?  Now I’ll have to check back with her on whether she had inadvertently shut me out of the “private group” of which I am a fully paid-up member…

Bottom line: I know I should not have been included on the invitation, and that I had responded without reading it carefully.  Also, I know that Facebook can be really flaky to use at times–I even had trouble with it back in the States.  Sometimes I can’t even access my own account here!  So my shut-out may have been inadvertent.  Or was it?  Should I be upset?



About DrEMiller

Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT). Home: Sint Maarten. K-12 teacher for 13 years (Special Education for 10 years); Post-secondary educator since 2002; Education consulting since 1995. When teaching, held teaching certificates in K-12 special education, reading specialist; and secondary social studies. Doctorate: Educational Psychology Programmer/analyst for 10 years, including project management and training of corporate execs.
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10 Responses to Writing 101 Day Twelve: Dark Clouds…

  1. I feel you should talk to them and find out what the problem is and get it worked out. I get myself in trouble when I assume things.

    • DrEMiller says:

      Thanks for your advice, Priceless Joy. My suspicions were confirmed when I received an email from the group president explaining to me why I was cut off from news of what the organization was doing. It was my careless and inadvertent response to the dinner invitation that initiated a new policy. The “board” makes the rules, then announces them to the general membership. Since the board members are chosen by the existing officers and not voted on by the general membership, it makes for a powerful clique. That there are no bylaws is a fact. The excuse is that no one has ever had the time to draw some up. I live in the Caribbean in a “country” that is beautiful and as politically corrupt as it is heavenly to perceive. It’s the way things are done here. Technically, the country is part of the Netherlands, but does not have the independent status that it projects to the rest of the world. I am leaving the group, emailing members with whom I don’t want to lose contact, and letting the rest go. I have too much respect for the work the group in its charitable donations. But there are several issues I disagree with on a general basis. I’m an American expat here, but have observed enough of the political climate that dominates the country and, by default, the groups who mimic the government. And that’s where I’d like to remain: as an observer rather than as a participant. Because of my husband’s job, I am a full legal resident of the island–not a citizen so I can’t vote, much as non-citizens with official residency in the US are treated. After living here for two years, my husband and I have decided that this will not be our permanent home once he retires–far too expensive to live in without independent wealth. The local people are, on the average, quite poor, and young people leave the island because there is very little opportunity for them if their families are not wealthy. Think “Third World” status, a term I thought had been eradicated from international vocabulary. Not being part of the group leaves me the freedom to pursue personal interests, such as learning more about writing and taking drawing lessons to learn how to use my non-dominant hand to draw and then write. In truth, I can already print quite well and quickly with my left hand. But I am testing a “drawing first” theory that involves both retraining handedness in people who have lost use of their dominant hand for any reason, as well as studying the implications of dual handedness for kids with certain learning problems. Without having to worry about monthly meetings and frequent “photo ops” when donations are made, I can concentrate more on these projects and not worry about having enough time or being able to drive, especially at night, during my “bad days.” Doing things this way also keeps me out of trouble, which I can so easily get into when my undergraduate studies in international governments takes over my mouth.
      Yes, a long response. But that’s my perception based on my observations. And I have had 65 years to develop observation skills with my background that goes as far back as being born in France into a Polish community with my parents speaking Belarusian in the home, and having to adjust to French nursery school at the age of .two and a half. It gets even better when we move to the US just a few days before I turned four. Yes, I am more of an observer than a participant, although I like to be active in whatever community I live in. But that can happen easily enough as there is much need on the island and volunteers are always sought.

      • Sounds to me like you and your husband need to find another place to retire, if the people there are politically corrupt.

        • DrEMiller says:

          Reading this on my iPad, which doesn’t work quite the same as a PC or Android version. Forgive me if I already replied. In all, most people on this is
          And are wonderful. The government does its thing, the people do their own. It is just part of the culture. And I really love the “real” people here!

      • DrEMiller says:

        @Priceless Joy, you have no idea how true that is. And it’s lost the safety that’s been a big issue over the past three or four years. If you can’t afford to live in a gated community with a security guard, chances are excellent that you will be robbed or worse. For visitors, the resorts and hotels are extremely safe, but they warn guests to stay on the grounds at night and be wary of the legitimacy of taxis they use. Sad.

  2. busy lady says:

    I enjoyed your story, but I think it is a little long. I don’t think you are nuts! I can understand your puzzlement at the invitation. I would have been in the same position.

    • DrEMiller says:

      You are most right about the length, Busy Lady. There are many whole sentences I should take out that add little or nothing to the actual content. Admittedly, I didn’t edit myself before posting because I had a drawing assignment to finish that actually takes longer than writing. A few short years ago the opposite would have been true–I wouldn’t get the drawing done any faster, but the writing would be excruciatingly slow. Thanks for catching that. If you want to know what the resolution was, please read my lengthy reply to Priceless Joy, above. In this case, I believe the length was needed to help explain the local cultural mores and political cloning. Sint Maarten–a great little country to visit, but most non-natives don’t stay very long. I can honestly say I’ll miss it when we leave, but I will be glad to return to the US or its territories when my husband retires. And he has no plans to retire any time soon.
      Mostly, thanks for letting me know that you don’t think I’m nuts. I’d never call myself “normal,” but I often wonder whether my perceptions are accurate. Thanks for understanding.

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