I had a three-hour training this afternoon on being a mandated reporter.  By the time we were finished discussing the minutiae, I was more tangled up in bureaucratic loopholes than before.  And probably less likely to actually understand my responsibilities.  I texted my sister at the onset of the meeting.  She is a case worker for Children, Youth, and Families, so she’s, shall we say, intimately involved in the effects of mandated reporting.  She’s the mean lady who takes the kids away from their tearful mommies in all the Hallmark films.  She wrote back immediately: “3 hours?  Kid comes in with his arm hanging out of its socket, call us.  That’s it.”  At least someone could explain it to me.

I went to the grocery store in the heat wave tonight.  At least while I’m shopping, I’m not paying for the air-conditioning.  Well, not directly anyway.  My mother feels that “food shopping” (as we called it in college) is always an acceptable activity, regardless of the actual capacity of the refrigerator.  After all, with so many non-perishables, you can always stock up, and they never really go bad.  Her basement contains enough granola bars, boxes of pasta, chocolate chips, and cans of Spaghetti O’s to last a nuclear holocaust.  When The Rapture does happen, head for her house. 

I picked up a package of grape tomatoes for Mr. Apron’s salad.  I thought I’d been meticulous in turning the package over and scanning for bruised or rotten fruit, as I’d been with the strawberries.  Apparently, I had missed a moldy tomato, as I discovered at the check-out.  The woman bagging volunteered to go grab me another package, sans mold.  I handed over my rejected package, and the cashier in turn handed them to the bagger, to put back on the shelf.  Is this my cultural bias showing, or should a store employee not put rotten produce back on the shelf to be sold?  Are there people who enjoy the “probiotic cultures” from a wormy apple, a bruised peach, or a rotten strawberry?  It reminded me of a time when I was working with preschoolers.  They had made a vegetable soup, chopping all the veg themselves.  When it was clear the Crock-Pot was full, the teachers started offering the extra veg  to the kids to try.  I scanned the mixture, and quickly began removing the raw potatoes from the bowl before the kids could eat them.  The teacher questioned me, asking if there was a reason I was taking out the potatoes.  I blanked.  Surely she didn’t see raw potatoes as edible?  Suitable for kids?  Surely there was a reason I’ve never eaten one?  Are they even fit to eat?  It seemed then like a cultural bias I had brought to the table, but then again, maybe she was just crazy. 

As I pulled into my little street, I squealed with delight (silently, of course), as I saw that “my” parking spot – the one I had left an hour ago – was still open.  Our block holds 15 cars if everyone behaves, doesn’t take up unnecessary space, and no landscaping trucks take up temporary residence.  Our neighbors across the street, however, do not behave.  They’re an elderly couple who have a white German Shepherd named “Kody”.  He (the owner, not the dog) wears an atrocious toupee, and they boy drive Buicks, enormous Buicks, one of which is the Rendezvous, the ugliest Buick known to mankind.  Neither of them can park.  To watch the experience is like witnessing a Windex bird fly into the clean patio door in slow motion – it takes forever, the end result is inevitable, and it’s an exercise in anticipatory pain.  You’d think the car was actually a yacht with the visibility and turning radius of a tank.  They always leave a good 6-10 extra feet on either side of their cars, thus eating up, if they’ve schemed correctly with both their cars, 2 additional parking spaces.  I take great delight in rendering their horrid parking moot by parking as close to them as I can.  It’s like I’m passive-aggressively teaching them, “This is the proper distance between cars.  Got it?” Tonight, I was able to reclaim an entire parking space with my superior parking job, which hopefully Mr. Apron will be using any minute now.

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