An Overheard Conversation9 September, 2008
(((Wife))) and I had some business to take care of this morning. To the bank (transfer some dough to (((Boy)))’s account to pay for his back ground checks), the bakery (gluten free cinnamon rolls, cookies, and almond biscotti) and the grocery store. One of the many nice things about living in a city is choices. We have three different grocery stores which we frequent; each one has a different specialty. Today, we stopped at Sunshine.
Sunshine is an independent and is absolutely huge. It gives them plenty of shelf space to carry odd items (such as Campbell’s Pepper Pot and Scotch Broth soups). The store also carries the best ham shanks I’ve ever had. These aren’t the itty-bitty little hamhocks with a thick skin and a morsel of meat. The hame shanks at this store are about a pound-and-a-half of meat with two relatively small bones. Anyway, decided to get the ham shanks because it has gotten cold (a front came through and tonight’s low will be in the mid-40s) so a good bean soup will be delicious.
One minor problem at Sunshine is that, no matter how many people work the deli counter, it’s never enough. I had ticket 946. The wall display showed 36. I knew I had a good wait, so (((Wife))) went off to find cheese (for the manioc rolls to go with the soup), celery, and iced tea jugs.
While waiting, I couldn’t help but notice a family waiting for their turn. Mom, Dad, and four kids. I’ve been trying to find a way to describe them without insulting West Virginia (I did live in West Virginia for a while) or Oklahoma, but I can’t. Their clothing had that overwashed look — not dirty, but faded into a gray sameness which bespoke poverty. All (except the dad) had gold crosses hanging from their neck by a piece of rough twine. I have to assume the kids are home schooled as today is Tuesday and it was 10:30am.
I heard a shout (well, not really a shout, but it rose above the normal background rumble). Dad turned and swatted a magazine out of the hand of the oldest girl (she looked about 10 to 12). He then told her, “Pick it up.” She did. “Give it to me.” She did. “Why are you reading this?”
“Sir. I was bored, sir,” the girl answered. (Throughout the conversation, I kept flashing back to basic training.)
“Are you supposed to be reading this?” he asked.
“Are you allowed to read this?”
“Is this the good book?”
“This will be discussed at home.”
Their number came up. Mom bought a pound of American Cheese, two pounds of bologna, and a pound of scrapple.
I sidled over to the bench and glanced at the magazine: Time. From three months ago.
I have to wonder. What books are appropriate in that home? My guess would be the Bible. Apparently, this is not all that uncommon. I also have to wonder (and I am assuming that these kids are being home schooled) whether the education they are recieving will equip them to become productive members of society? My guess would be no.
I realize I am reading quite a bit into one short conversation. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the kids are getting a good, well-rounded education based on critical thinking and analysis. Maybe the Bible is NOT the only book in the house. Maybe the kids will step out of poverty and into middle-class America. And maybe giant winged porcupines will fly backwards out of my ass.
Hey. It could happen, right?