Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Careful What Bricks You Lay

Early yesterday evening after supper, I was re spooling my Ambassodor with some mono filament in the garage when Gladys came running out looking particularly disturbed. Seems as though she had just gotten a call from our friend Ina who was despondent over an anonymous note she had received on the windshield of her car earlier that afternoon while in Minocqua. Now Ina and Ernie are two of the most stand up people you'd ever want to meet. They both give a tremendous amount of time and energy to this community. Ina is always helping out with the Lionesses, or the church or the library and Ernie is off doing his part as well, neither asking for any recognition.

Well, Ina tells Gladys that when she came out of the bank there was a note on her burgandy Crown Victoria that said "Good luck in bankruptcy! Maybe now would be a good time to stop gambling. " Signed, "The Breakfast Gals". Well this just about knocked poor Ina over. She actually lost her breath and had to go back into Northwoods Savings and Loan for some water. Ernie got a call from her and thought he'd have to drive over and pick her up she was so shaken up by these nasty and untrue allegations. What in the world? "We are not only going bankrupt but I have a gambling problem too? Who would come up with this sort of rubbish and spread such hurtful things about me and Ernie" she thought. And how could one ever squelch such salacious nonsense.

She did make it home, heading right for the sofa and grabbing the quilt off the back for some comfort. As soon as Ernie entered the room she began to weep. Have you ever seen a 70 year old woman weep. Ina felt so betrayed. This was her community and full of her friends...everyone; even if she hadn't met you. Everyone gets the benefit of the doubt from this wise elderly wife, mother and grandma.

The more she went through it in her head, the more puzzling it seemed. "What have I done or where have I been to give the impression to anyone that our lives, Ernie and mine, are not in order." Well she started to put 2 and 2 together. For the past six months Ina had been working on a program for Native American children. She was looking for used computers that could be distributed to the children on the reservation. The kids could use space at the casino (where their parents were working) for after school tutoring. Ina's contact at the bank was Vivian Gress in the delinquent credit department. Her son Matthew had graduated from Madison in the late seventies and had gone to Seattle to join some unknown company called Microsoft. He had abundant resources for Ina that his mom Vi would facilitate. Okay, now it's making sense...kind of. Ina spent hours in the glassed in office at the bank, clearly visible for the past several months. She also had been on the reservation alot, for meetings and such and had even gotten not one but two speeding tickets around the casino in the past six months. Unfortunately, both made it to the press. So now it was all making sense. Trouble was, it was the furthest thing from the truth. And as always is the case, the accused has no recourse and no means by which they can explain or clear their name..

I immediately decided after Gladys went back inside to finish her puzzle that I would comment on this topic. This rumour mill stuff is fodder for a few up here as it seems to be all over these days. We seem as a nation to have made gossip a sport of its own. This has given rise to publications like People, or Us Weekly or the legendary National Enquirer. I see'em at Olson's Superette. Fish wrap at best is what I say. It may seem benign on a national level but when it's in your small home town, think of the pain caused. Think of the anguish delivered on ones doorstep. Tony Soprano used to say "Forget about it". Sometimes that's easier said than done.

Ina's unfortunate lesson and the lesson for all of us is to be very careful of the "walls we build" around people. Every time we comment on a fellow neighbor we "lay a brick". There is a lot of labor behind our words and eventually, we will create a building in which we house those we talk about. My question to you...do you build churches or prisons? Do your words imprison others or set them free. Choose your words carefully and refuse the offer from others to join them in rumors, gossip and innuendos. Build a church my friend.

I gotta run. Thanks for stopping by today and bringing the pie. All my love to you and

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