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LJI9 Week 18 - Answering Wrong Calls

This is my entry for this week of LJ Idol, Season 9. Please check out the entries of my fellow competitors and consider joining the therealljidol community. This week's topic was "Disinformation."

Late yesterday, we got a call from a recovery agency. We get them all the time, but they are never actually looking for me. Usually, they're looking for someone named Zakia Wilson, who supposedly has a relative named Alice. This Zakia Wilson is apparently a real deadbeat, at least based on the calls I've been getting. If I ever meet her in person, I will be sure to get her phone number, if you know what I mean. This time, however, the company not only had my name and phone number but also my real street address.

The bored-sounding woman on the other end of the line could only give us scant details about the case, except for the name of the company that had turned it over to the collection agency. Considering it was a medical expense accrued at a time when I was not dealing with any medical issues, and the company was one our insurance provider doesn't use, I was 99.99999 percent sure it was another mistake. Yet, she refused to take my phone number and address off the case, insisting -- with what sounded like a yawn -- that I had to write them a letter to dispute it.

So I did so this morning, reigning myself in to write a business-like letter, despite the imp of the perverse egging me on to "accidentally" drop said letter in the training potty, which was full of pee. Don't worry; the letter stayed dry, but the thought did reduce me to wicked laughter I refused to explain to my son.

And now with the carefully-written letter, which provides no information they didn't already know (just in case it's a phishing expedition) safely stowed in an envelope, I am watching "Drunk History" on my husband's laptop (with headphones on, of course) while my pantless son reads himself "Splat and the Cool School Trip." Because this is how we roll, when misled creditors aren't harassing us over the phone.

It's amazing how severely derailed we can become as the result of someone acting on bad information. I'm not even talking about such tragic circumstances as the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, where the killing of an unarmed teen by a police officer (also, ironically, a Wilson) has led to protestors and police being locked in a self-perpetuating crisis of miscommunication.

Lesser incidents can have an impact, too. This past Saturday, I overheard a father saying to his young daughter, a bit disdainfully, "I'm sure there will be more weeds on the way home." He placed a subtle but significant emphasis on the word "weeds."

I turned to catch a flicker of pain crossing the girl's heart-shaped face, which was framed by long brunette hair so similar to my oldest niece's. She was clutching a small bouquet of daisies, chicory flowers and Queen Anne's Lace, some of the most common Pennsylvania wildflowers.

Loud enough for them both to hear, I remarked with delight, "Oh, a chicory flower," gently emphasizing the word "flower." Because I remember when, as a child, my Pop-Pop rejected a similar bouquet from me, declaring them "weeds." Back then, my mom had saved the day, digging out a juice glass to fill with water, and declaring the bouquet "beautiful." The flowers had stayed on the kitchen table during our visit, although I suspect he dumped them soon afterwards.

I didn't realize it then, but looking back, I think I felt a fraction of how my mother must have felt when my Pop-Pop rejected her plans to study art in college, pushing her instead towards the more practical field of science. And I love her deeply for her efforts to nurture my silliest, most impractical dreams. To pay back that gift, I am striving to do the same for my son. I want my boy -- who wants to be a writer one day, a structural engineer the next, and a clown the day after that -- to learn how to convert such daily indignities into works of subtle understanding.

Like my parents, I call weeds "volunteers," explaining to my son that weeds are just plants growing where they haven't been cultivated. Because I want him to appreciate the beauty of things that do not fit into societal expectations.

Like my mother and her mother before her, I will teach him to open his mind to the possibility of faeries, ghosts, and clairvoyance. Because the world is a richer place when you believe there is more to life than what we can logically explain.

Like my parents did with me and my siblings, I ask my son in the morning, "What did you dream?" Because I know that dreams are important, as much or more so as what happens during the day.

I feel compelled to frontload him with these thoughts and observations: encouraging him to listen to the music of the world around him, to marvel at the artistic lines of a piece of crumpled paper. That way, his heart will be filled with beauty, music and compassion as he walks bravely into a world of naysayers.

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( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 19th, 2014 08:39 pm (UTC)
I love your attitude about weeds, and how much you encourage your son's creativity.

We still get calls to our number for the person who had the number before we did, about 12-15 years ago. SO annoying!
Aug. 19th, 2014 11:42 pm (UTC)
I sometimes contemplate dropping the land line, except that it is the phone number I've given out as a contact to a lot of places I actually want to be able to contact me.
Aug. 19th, 2014 09:56 pm (UTC)
Poor little girl! I am glad you spoke up to her. This was lovely.
Aug. 19th, 2014 11:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I don't know if it made any difference, but I couldn't stop myself.
Aug. 20th, 2014 04:43 am (UTC)
Lovely entry. AW
Aug. 20th, 2014 11:32 am (UTC)
Thank you! Glad to hear it.
Aug. 20th, 2014 09:05 am (UTC)
It seems that we share similar attitudes about weeds. Also, your description of the flowers is so sweet, and makes me excited for my impending trip to Pennsylvania next month.

Is "Splat and the Cool School Trip" from "Splat the Cat" by chance? My daughter is 4, and I was wondering if she was ready to read it. Well, by read, I mean read to her, but you get the idea.

I hope the dispute is settled quickly, by the way.
Aug. 20th, 2014 11:31 am (UTC)
Pennsylvania has many lovely wildflowers. I'm especially fond of the purple ones, like chicory and violets. There are also some lovely grape hyacinths, which look like little upside-down bunches of grapes.

"Splat the Cat and the Cool School Trip" is from the "Splat the Cat" series, and it's right up the alley of a 4-year-old. KFP is learning to read a lot of words but often starts by memorizing books after I've read them to him several times. I keep wondering if that sort of eidetic memory will stay.

I'm not too worried about the billing dispute. It's a pretty small amount, and we just checked with our medical insurance to confirm it's not us. It seems clear to me that they somehow found my contact information and decided to approach me with the bill. My impression is that these collection companies often just look up phone numbers in public directories and call anyone with that name when they don't have a solid lead.
Aug. 20th, 2014 08:49 pm (UTC)
It could also be a scam. There are 'Collection Agencies' that set up automatic monthly payments, with a specific end date(say ten months) and then they never stop drawing from your account. The only way to stop is to close the account. Ran into this with my mother in law... :)
Aug. 20th, 2014 12:37 pm (UTC)
This is seriously lovely. :-)
Aug. 20th, 2014 12:46 pm (UTC)
Precisely so.

Of course, I could tell you that when it comes to collection agencies, they'll use every means necessary to find the person they're looking for, even getting names, addresses and phone numbers out of the white pages (if such a thing still exists!) or on the internet (do you know about all those websites where you can get the histories and personal information about anyone for a small fee?) so, the problem is really the agency's not yours.

So, no. You don't have to write THEM a letter. However, you might contact the Better Business Bureau about it. You don't have to have any contact with them at all.
Aug. 20th, 2014 01:31 pm (UTC)
This is beautifully written...I like how you weave patterns seamlessly from one topic to another...the design ends up looking good always..:) Good work! Kudos!
Aug. 20th, 2014 01:51 pm (UTC)
Love your thoughts on weeds :) And I love that you ask your son what he dreamed, because it is so important. This is something I will remember when I have kids. Loved it.
Aug. 20th, 2014 03:30 pm (UTC)
Conscious parenting is good for both the parent and the child! Well written!
Aug. 20th, 2014 08:44 pm (UTC)
You are so eloquent. Sigh.... (and my kind of mom to hang with!) Needless to say I enjoyed this very much. :)
Aug. 20th, 2014 09:50 pm (UTC)
weeds are just plants growing where they haven't been cultivated. Because I want him to appreciate the beauty of things that do not fit into societal expectations.
What a wonderful way of phrasing the larger view of the concept of recognizing beauty where you find it (or ARE it), even if others don't.
Aug. 21st, 2014 12:49 am (UTC)
Thank you for what you said to that little girl.
Aug. 21st, 2014 08:17 am (UTC)
Such (well written) truthiness in this entry!! Great job.
Aug. 21st, 2014 10:12 am (UTC)
The story about the wildflowers is so sweet, and that's an awesome way to bring up your son!

I'm a little thrown by not understanding how the front part of the essay connects - this feels a little like two separate stories. The main part of the essay seems to start at "It's amazing how..." and I wonder if it's worth starting there and having this be entirely about the weeds idea?
Aug. 21st, 2014 07:23 pm (UTC)
This was lovely.
Aug. 21st, 2014 09:40 pm (UTC)
They're not weeds here either; they're wild medicinals. I taught my beloved's babies early that each green thing has at least one use: medicinal, culinary, or ecological. Into that goes beauty and other concepts I want them to treasure.

We love our "weeds" and the spirits which protect them.
Aug. 21st, 2014 11:32 pm (UTC)
This is lovely. :)
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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