Thursday’s Child  

Posted by Brock Booher

It isn’t everyday I get approached by a young woman in the supermarket, especially when I’m sporting three days worth of stubble, with a touch of gray, but this was a Thursday.

I saw her as she turned down my aisle. I was looking for some waffle mix and glanced up as I saw her turn the corner. She looked like a skinny preteen in a yellow halter-top and white shorts. Other than basic awareness that she was walking down my aisle, I paid her little mind.

“Excuse me sir,” she said in a sad voice. She had stopped right beside me.

Due to years of training on situational awareness, or maybe an innate paranoia, I am normally very observant of my surroundings. I didn’t realize she had stopped until she spoke to me. I paused my comparison of Bisquick and Krusteaz and looked up at her.

“Sorry to trouble you, but you wouldn’t be willing to give me some money for a hotel room would you?” she asked. She hesitated for moment after the request.

In that moment I took a good look at the human being in front of me. She was average build and thin with long spindly legs like a bird. She had the face of someone in their late twenties and the body of an early teenager. Her face had no remnants of makeup and she looked a bit haggard even though she was trying to smile. Her hair was up in a ponytail and frizzed out like she had just jumped out of bed and pulled it back away from her hollow eyes. She wore a yellow halter-top with her bra straps showing, but based on her figure, the straps weren’t working too hard. She wore white shorts and flip-flops. In her right hand she held a large Styrofoam cup, apparently with soda still in it. She had a medium size purse in the crook of her left arm. She looked like a forlorn waif, a veritable Thursday’s Child personified.

She continued with a voice pleading and soft, “I need some money for a hotel room because I was traveling with a friend, and she stole all of my money, over $1200. You wouldn’t be able to spare some money so I can get a room for the night would you?”

I wanted to give her some money. I don’t like turning away anyone in need, especially a woman. All that is good in me wanted to help, and the pity I felt jumped up in my throat. Here is one of God’s children in need. Help her! Cried the voice in my head.

Another voice was talking in my head as well. Careful! This one is trouble. Nothing is as it seems. See the nice purse. See the soda from recent meal. Look at her eyes. Beware the nature of the thing she asks for.

Caution won out and I smiled and said, “I’m sorry. I don’t.”

“Okay, thanks,” she said without any apparent rancor and continued down the aisle.

Guilt-ridden, I turned away and stared at the boxes in front of me covered with bright colored pictures of delicious waffles and pancakes topped with strawberries and blueberries and smothered with hot syrup. My stomach turned when I thought about her condition.

I called out to her before she got too far. “Do you need any food?” I asked.

She stopped, turned halfway around, and finished taking a sip from her drink. “No, another gentleman bought me lunch.”

I nodded. She turned and continued. Thursday’s Child has far to go.

I stared at the shelves of packaged food in front of me trying to make sense of what had just happened, a conflict raging inside of me.

I should have given her money. Didn’t you see how skinny she was?

You idiot she was playing you. Didn’t you see the hard look of a druggie on her face?

Who cares? She needed money and I could have spared a five spot.

You would have just enabled her. She needs a different kind of help.

I could have at least gone to the hotel and paid for the room for her.

Fool! That is probably what she wanted anyway. She was soliciting you, you moron!

Oh my gosh! She must really be in trouble. Maybe she’s a runaway. I have to find her and see if I can help her. Maybe I can get her the help she really needs.

Now you’re talking.

I searched the store – nothing. I quickly checked out and searched the parking lot – gone.

My encounter with Thursday’s Child haunted me. I wondered how far she had come to get to her desperate condition. Even more, I wondered how far she had to go.

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child must work for a living,
But the child that's born on the Sabbath day,
Is fair and wise and good and gay.

(Old Nursery Rhyme, Author Unknown)

It's 9/12 and Life Goes On  

Posted by Brock Booher

I took a stroll down memory lane last week, but the truth is, I also sprinted part of the way not wanting to spend too much time lingering with some ugly memories. I reflected on good times and on tragic times, but all the events had one thing in common – I had to keep moving. Life went on.

I took a trip to Provo, Utah, to drop off my second son, Cody, at the Missionary Training Center for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He will be preparing to serve in the San Antonio, Texas, area, and will be speaking Spanish. The training center is adjacent to my alma mater, Brigham Young University. As we pulled off the freeway and drove up the street towards the campus, the floodgates of my memory opened up.

I passed the mall where I took my wife on our first date.  We both swooned a bit at the memory and laughed. When we started down the hill from the mall, I remembered how she used to stick her head out the window to dry her hair as I drove her to work. I started to tell the story, but Cody had already heard about it so many times that he finished my sentence. We passed the stadium, places where we had lived, and old restaurants whose names had long since changed. I remembered classmates, old girlfriends, Air Force ROTC, walking up the hill to work, and quiet snowfalls. Images passed across the theater of my mind and filled me with nostalgia and joy.

In those days the cold war had reached a climax, and even though we didn’t know it, was about to end. We worried about thermonuclear war and the resulting nuclear winter. Terrorist from Libya bombed nightclubs in Germany, and President Reagan sent a clear message of, “You can run, but you can’t hide.” We worried about the end of the world in those days too, but life went on.

It was a nice stroll down that lane of mostly fond memories, and although I wanted to linger, I had to keep moving forward. Then as the week came to an end, I took a turn down Elm Street, and repeated a nightmare – the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

We sat down as a family and watched a documentary about that fateful day and discussed how we felt about the event. I wanted to race past those tragic memories and haunting images, but forced myself to slow down and remember.

Ten years. I know you’ve heard it. I know you’ve thought it. “I can’t believe it’s been ten years since the attacks of 9/11.” Even though it was a tragic day, life moved on.

I wasn’t on that road that fateful day. I was at home in Arizona and had just finished my morning run. When I opened the door the Television was blaring. My wife met me at the door in tears. When I witnessed the graphic images on the TV, I couldn’t process the scene. As I stood there trying to make sense of it all, the first tower collapsed, and so did I. My knees buckled and I felt like I was going to throw up. We worried about the images our kids were being subjected to and turned off the TV.

I sat there stunned, unable to speak. Cody broke me from my trance. “Dad, we’re out of milk,” he said from the breakfast table. That simple statement put me back into motion. His childlike perspective wasn’t calloused or cold. It was practical. My children inherently understood that time would not stop. Life would go on.

They say our world changed forever on 9/11, and in many ways it did. But life did not stop. It rolled on, changing daily.

Airport security became an exercise in patience, and continues to be a sore spot for travelers. We became familiar with terrorist cells, Al Qaeda, and argued over the spelling of Usama or Osama bin Laden. We watched video feeds from UAV’s and their smart bombs. We were relieved at discovering foiled plots like the shoe bomber, the underwear bomber, and the Times Square bomber. We added words like “GITMO” and “IED” to our vernacular. We endured strip searches and roving wire taps.

In spite of the changes, the world moved forward. In Oct of 2001, the first Ipod was released and revolutionized the world of music. Then came the smart phones with built in GPS and multiple apps to make our life easier. Next came the Kindle, the Nook, and the Ipad. Airbus produced the world’s largest commercial airliner. Video conferencing, always a promise of science fiction, became a reality of everyday life. Facebook and Google changed the way we communicate and interact as individuals, and as communities. In the last ten years the world did not stop. In many ways it actually improved.

Now it is 9/12/11. Life marches on. What goals are we striving for? What new accomplishments are we seeking? What are we looking forward to?

It was a nice stroll down memory lane, and therapeutic to rush past the horrid scenes of ten years ago. I will never forget the lesson of my son’s prodding that brought me back to the present. We should remember and learn from the past. It is proper to give reverence to its memories both good and bad. But time doesn’t stop. Neither should we.

Life goes on. Are we going with it?