As I enter my fourth month of retirement bliss, I realize I have grown accustomed to the joys of simply cruising through life with my blinker on. I avoid stress and strife at all costs and detest anyone who attempts to curse me with such. With that being said, last week was one of intense stress. I am still struggling to move past this extremely damaging event and in fact, I am considering professional counseling. The cause of this interruption in my otherwise near perfect life? I was banished from Amazon!
Unceremoniously banned, I was and without even proper notification. Being retired and a man of leisure, I have fallen into a morning ritual that fits my comfort zone. With morning coffee in hand, I turn on the CBS Morning News and sit down to my laptop, casually browsing through Facebook and Twitter, moving on to my email, and finally getting down to what's important...updating the Rusty Goat website with the stories of the day. Having that out of the way, I then move on to the financial side of my day. I check in with Google to see if I made any pocket change the previous day. If I'm lucky, someone clicked an ad or two on one of my websites, sometimes I make enough to buy a cup of coffee, no not at Starbucks. I am rarely that fortunate. And last but not least, I check my Amazon account to see if by some slim chance someone purchased one of my books. And that's when I discovered one Friday morning that I no longer had an Amazon account.
'There is no account associated with this email address.' I pursed my lips as I read the warning message that flashed across the screen. I tried signing on to my Amazon Associates account... the same message. I scratched my head as my brow wrinkled in sudden worry. Okay, on to my personal account and no...I no longer existed within the Amazon database. I felt panic sweep through my body. No Amazon! What would I do? I relied on Amazon to deliver my off-brand Rogaine every month, and my Tumeric pills! All of my books resided on the Amazon website and I couldn't get to them! Did I lose my books? My Amazon Associates account...frozen! Some days I make enough money from Amazon to buy a donut with my cup of coffee. And it was gone...gone!
I tried to calm my nerves. Surely it was a temporary glitch. They'd have it back up and running in a few hours, I told myself. I decided to move on with my day and put it out of my mind. But throughout the day, it consumed my every thought. What if someone had hacked my Amazon account? What if they had stolen my books? What if someone had stolen my financial information! I frantically checked my bank account...no, my five dollars was still there.
After fending off a nervous breakdown, I finally shot off an email to Amazon customer support that afternoon. I waited patiently for a response. But by bedtime that night, I'd not received a reply. The following morning I called the Amazon customer hotline. A man with a foreign accent answered. I couldn't understand him but frantically explained my situation. Apparently, he couldn't understand me either and transferred me back to someone in the United States. A polite young man listened sympathetically and upon checking what information he had available, finally informed me that my account had been suspended for violation of Amazon's terms of service. I protested loudly that I'd done nothing to violate their terms of service, whatever they were. Well no, I haven't actually read them. Have you? Anyway, he assured me that he would send my inquiry on to whoever was in charge of banning folks from their website and with a little luck I might hear something from them in seven days or so. And that was that.
Now, I'm a pretty good guy in the grand scheme of things. I go to church almost every Sunday, say my prayers every night, and about the shadiest thing I've done lately is put my trash in someone else's dumpster. I'm still guilt-tripping over that. For the next seven days, I searched my little brain for anything I may have done to piss Amazon off. I drew a blank time after time. Finally, as promised, I received an email on the seventh day.
Hello from Amazon.
Thank you for contacting Amazon Customer Service. We have reviewed your account and confirmed it was deactivated for violations of our Community Guidelines and Conditions of Use.
Your account has been deactivated for the following reason:
-- Your reviews were posted in exchange for compensation, such as gift cards to purchase the product, product refunds, review swaps, or free or discounted products;
We have submitted your account for re-consideration and will advise in the next 7 business days if your account is eligible for reactivation.
Ah ha! Have you ever received one of those emails? I had indeed received an email from some company just days before asking me for a favorable review of their product. In return, as a show of their appreciation, they would send me a free pencil or something of the sort. I had deleted the email and forgotten about it. And here I now sat...banned. from Amazon. I stewed and fumed over the unfairness of my banishment. By gosh, I should call Jeff Bezos himself and give him a piece of my mind! How dare they ban me from Amazon! I was an innocent man! Knowing myself like I do, I resolved to sleep on it before doing anything too rash. Being banned from Amazon was not worth doing hard time in some federal penitentiary. It turned out to be a wise move. The following morning, as I sipped my cup of coffee, I opened another email from Amazon customer service:
We appreciate you being an Amazon customer and thank you for your patience.
We detected unusual activity associated with items previously purchased on your account. As a result, we had deactivated your account while we conducted a deeper investigation.
Based on that investigation, we have restored access to your account.
I fully understand how important ratings and reviews are to those who sell on Amazon. I sell books there, and a positive review can bump my books way up in the search results. But from the perspective of a buyer, I see the entire system is completely flawed. Amazon is quick to overreact, as I learned from this painful experience. They take it so far to the extreme that if my second cousin's wife's sister's boyfriend reviews one of my books...and they manage to connect the dots, they remove the review...and likely make a little tally mark on a yellow legal pad. They are that anal about reviews.
So, I have vowed to never, never, ever rate or review another product I purchase on Amazon.com. I just can't risk being banned again...and I look forward to my donut money every month!
See more about Amazon's sudden infatuation of closing customers' accounts here.
It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon the first part of April 2016 and I should have been outside doing something constructive like Weed 'n Feeding the lawn or washing the pickup, but that stack of bills had haunted me all day. Grumbling under my breath I placed the mound of bills on the kitchen table and armed with a checkbook and my favorite gel pen, I sat down to begin the dubious task. But before I could pick up the pen a knock came at the door. I sighed and squinted my eyes. Likely some of those Jehova Witness folks have returned to tell me how misguided I am with my Southern Baptist beliefs, I thought as I rose from the table.
I opened the front door just wide enough to peek out and behold, there stood a most beautiful young woman on my porch. My heart pounded in my chest as I wondered if God had finally sent me a woman after all this time. A fine job He did, I marveled as I eagerly swung the door open. This little lady was calendar girl material, standing a bit past five feet tall, maybe tipping the scales at a hundred pounds, her brunette hair blowing slightly in the breeze. Her green eyes locked onto mine as a warm smile came across her face.
"Hieee! My name is...well, I don't remember...and I'm representing a new company who specializes in floor maintenance."
Her eyes glanced down at the wood floor just inside the door as she continued, "We're out and about today just letting people know about us. How would you like for us to come in and buff those beautiful wood floors for you, no charge?"
My brain was now working at full speed as I responded, "Wow, that'd be great...you can buff my floor anytime, calendar girl."
Okay, I didn't really say that last part out loud but I admit it almost came out of my mouth. With my affirmation, she turned and motioned toward a car in the drive. A seemingly large crowd of people emerged and instantly appeared, bustling about my living room with alarming speed, unpacking several boxes of equipment and supplies. I blinked...and they disappeared before my very eyes, the calendar girl along with them. The only person left standing before me was a chubby little girl, definitely not calendar girl material. I peered out the window and saw the vehicle speeding away, like gypsies in the wind.
The chubby girl smiled and began her well-rehearsed speech.
"So, are you familiar with Kirby vacuum cleaners?"
I scowled, "Is this what you people are up to? Look, missy, I don't need a Kirby vacuum cleaner. I have one rug in the living room and carpet in my bedroom."
"Oh, these machines do so much more than vacuum your floor." she replied as she dutifully buffed about a one square foot section of my wood floor, "See, look at that shine!"
She then changed attachments and moved on to my rug, literally sucking the design off of it. I watched as I realized I was stuck with this chicklet until, well, who knows when. She had been abandoned at my doorstep like a burlap sack full of kittens.
Over the course of the next two hours, I watched as she sucked the mites out of my mattress, the feathers out of my pillows, and the demonstration of how this nifty machine could even be used as a screwdriver, I had to admit, was impressive. Finally, a knock came at the door and one lone person stepped into my living room. He introduced himself as the regional manager of the Kirby vacuum cleaner company, and wasn't I just completely overwhelmed with this machine? And...because I seemed like a wonderful guy in dire need of this contraption, I could purchase one for my very own for...not the regular price of two thousand dollars. No, today only it could be mine for the low price of seven hundred bucks and some change.
"Mister," I replied, "I need one of these like I need a boat out here in the desert of west Texas!"
I watched as they drove away, knowing that I had dodged a bullet. Had the calendar girl sucked the mites out of my mattress instead of Miss Chubby...I would have jumped at the chance to buy her machine. Had they only known my one weakness, they definitely would have left her behind.
I tell that story to tell this one:
It was a year ago that life around here became a living hell. I had a senior on the verge of graduating. If you've been there, you will readily relate. Colleges and universities begin terrorizing entire families in the months leading up to graduation. Recruiters, usually nothing more than students themselves, begin making contact, no, not with parents, but with these kids. It begins with letters that read like this:
Dear (insert student name here)
Due to your exemplary scholastic achievement, our university has awarded you (insert tens of thousands of dollars here.)
My daughter received several of these letters. One was for the generous amount of fifty-four thousand dollars. Another was in the neighborhood of thirty-five thousand. Me, being...I dunno...stupid, I guess, literally fell to my knees thanking the Lord. A tiny voice came back...
"Not so fast, buddy!"
Upon investigation, I discovered that these private universities, even with their generous awards, would still cost between seventy to one-hundred thousand dollars for a four-year degree.
Enter the recruiters: As I mentioned, these people aren't calling me. They are spending hours talking to and texting my child, twisting her naive mind into knots. They have convinced her that any education other than one obtained from their university is no education at all.
Suddenly, all those plans that I as a parent have harbored since her first day of kindergarten have been trampled underfoot. In the back of my mind for nearly two decades, I had resolved that she'd attend the college just up the road. It was affordable and my child would be less than thirty minutes away. It was a parent's dream...until those evil college recruiters reared their heads, spewing venom and creating havoc within our daily lives.
Like the Kirby vacuum people, they were relentless. With a heavy heart, I began succumbing to university tours with daughter in tow, knowing there was no possible way I could afford to send her to any of these institutions. The feelings of failure began to overtake me with every tour. Our daily family life became consumed with the impossible dreams of an education only the very wealthy could ever afford. Gloom and depression hung in the air like smoke from a Camel cigarette. And the texts and phone calls kept coming, day after day after day.
Then one evening my daughter sat down to dinner and said, "You know dad, I think I've decided to go to the college up the road. It makes more sense, don't you think?"
And it was over and life returned to normal.
I have to give them credit, Kirby people, and private universities. They have the art of salesmanship finely tuned like a muscle car. Their technique is simply to wear the buyer down to the point of relenting just to find peace within themselves. But, if either wish to make a sale to this old goat, they'd be best advised to send a calendar girl over to knock on my door. Yep, that would probably be all it takes to break me...
News of the closings of Toys 'R Us hit me in a most unexpected way last week. It has been years since I've ventured into a Toys 'R Us. As an over-the-hill baby boomer with not a single grandchild to brag about, I have about as much reason to go into a toy store as I do Victoria's Secrets. As I read the article I had stumbled across online, memories from another era passed through my mind. Memories of excited youngsters grasping my finger as we strolled up and down aisles of toys. Memories of hurried and frantic last minute Christmas shopping, scrambling to find those items my children had scribbled on the top of their lists. Memories of my three-year-old daughter pointing as we drove by the store on so many occasions, unable to read but readily recognizing the colorful signage, her eyes widening as she begged,
"Oooh, can we go there today?"
And it's gone. Other brick and mortar stores will fall before this year's calendar expires. Experts predict Macy's may not make it through the year, along with JC Pennys, Kmart, and Sears. All from a result of failing to live up to their customers' expectations and a failure to keep pace with a rapidly changing way of doing business, these companies and more will cease to exist, nothing more than a vague memory. The blame always seems to gravitate to Amazon, but if we were honest, every one of these companies simply fell asleep at the wheel. Any one of them could have been the Amazon we all know and love. I believe the one company I am most disappointed in is Sears. They were the Amazon back in their day. Sears and Roebuck had the foresight to reach out to millions of customers right in their own homes, as far back as the nineteenth century. They pioneered home shopping, mailing out millions of catalogs, shipping everything from wood cook stoves to baby chicks directly to their customers' front doors. I remember the glee we experienced as children when the annual Sears Christmas catalog arrived in our mailbox. But somewhere along the way Sears lost their vision and stumbled. And now they lay gasping their last breath, mortally wounded by a giant corporation whose founder quite possibly discovered his vision while browsing through a Sears Christmas catalog at a young age.
My daughter and I found ourselves on the topic while driving around the city the other day. I asked her what society was going to do with itself in a decade when there were no more stores to shop at, no more malls to stroll through, and not a single movie theater left unshuttered. She disinterestedly responded that surely it'd not come to that as she fretted over the fact that she had left some needed adapter to connect her iPhone to the car radio at home. I laughed and suggested we could listen to the radio. I readily agreed with her when she suggested that silence was better than stooping low enough to actually torture ourselves with listening to the radio.
As we rode in silence, my mind dwelled on this ever-changing landscape we find ourselves in. While familiar retailers decompose before our very eyes, there are even more industries we're not readily seeing struggling to survive. Yes, even radio has perhaps seen its heyday. Will we, in a decade or less, be driving through all but abandoned city streets in silence because...there is no more radio?
According to a recent Forbes article ( In The IHeartMedia Bankruptcy, Expect A Major Selloff Of Radio Stations ) as many as 850 radio stations owned by the struggling IHeart Media group could hit the market soon, going at rock bottom prices. These stations simply aren't making any money. The number two media company, Cumulus Media filed for bankruptcy just months ago and may be forced to unload as many as 450 stations. So, if you've ever wanted to own a radio station, now is the time to make your move. They will be going cheap!
Radio began failing us years ago but we had few options if we wanted to listen to music. Commercials annoyed us to no end, with as many as eight to ten being forced upon us between songs. I recall reading an article a couple of years ago that the average station is now playing commercials fifty percent of their airtime. Coupled with struggling music genres whose powers that be had lost touch with listeners, radio became almost a disdain, forcing us to consume music we didn't care to listen to sandwiched between annoying commercials we really, really didn't want to hear. Me personally...I turned the radio off years ago, even before Spotify and Pandora made their appearance. I see radio's chances of survival about as slim as that of a T-rex.
So who's next? Allow me to make a prediction based solely on my own ever-changing habits. I am frankly on the threshold of addiction to streaming television. I've got it all, baby! Netflix, Hulu, Amazon...powered by three Rokus attached to all three TVs! I lived my life for years, perhaps a decade, with the TV off. I did not want to watch fat people lose weight. I cared nothing about watching spoiled millennials trying to outdo each other on some deserted island, nor did single chicks trying to one-up each other to land the bachelor of their dreams interests me in the least. I detested mindless sitcoms, still adding canned laughter so even the most stupid viewer would know when they were supposed to laugh. And should I even mention the countless breaks for ads about everything from erectile dysfunction to maxi pads.
It took me a while the other night to figure out which button on the remote to push to get me back to network television, but something beckoned me to watch the premiere of the 'Rosanne' revival. It was, to an old baby boomer like me, a breath of fresh air...perhaps I should more adequately describe it as a blast from the past. For the first time in a very long time, network TV made me laugh out loud and it felt good. It took me back in time. It jarred memories of evenings when a family gathered around the television after supper. Back to a time when radio played good music...and when toddlers grasped your finger as you led them down aisles and aisles of toys, their eyes gleaming, unknowing at the time that those times would someday be nothing more than a memory.
The cuckoo clock chirped ten times and I glanced out the dark window. Rising ever so silently from my easy chair, I tiptoed to the door of the office and listened. Stinky was snoring soundly. Pulling the door shut, I made my way to the bedroom, reaching for my boots. It was time to make my move.
I carefully lifted the coffee can full of bacon grease from the stove and cradled it in my arm. Sliding the patio door open as quietly as possible, I stepped out into the darkness. Down the driveway and across the dirt road that led to the highway, past the pecan tree, I paused. My eyes peering into the darkness, my steps cautious so I'd not trip and spill the grease, I finally came to the telephone pole looming before me. Perhaps this will do, I thought. Perhaps Stinky would not discover the secret place I had dumped the can brimming with tasty bacon grease. I carefully poured the can onto the ground in the dark of night. Finding my way back to the house, I placed the now empty metal can in the cabinet and stealthily crept back to the office. The dog was still snoring loudly, unaware of my escapade. I breathed a sigh of relief and sat on the couch to remove my boots. As I trudged down the hall, boots in hand, I came face to face with the Boston terrier, wide-eyed, wagging her stub of a tail.
"What are you doing up? No, you don't need to go outside. Go back to bed!"
The dog persisted and I reluctantly let her out, standing at the door like an old school marm monitoring recess. Stinky disappeared into the darkness. I looked at the clock on the wall. One minute passed, then two. Panic flooded my body as I called out into the night.
"Stinky, come on!" I paused, listening, "Come on, you bonehead!"
Still no dog. I growled under my breath as I headed to fetch my boots. By the time I returned to the door, the dog had found her way back, standing patiently in the porch light, her brown eyes bulging at me.
I slid the door open and began to chastise her.
"Did you eat that bacon grease? I know you did! You smell like rotten bacon!"
The dog cowered and slowly disappeared into the office, settling into her bed, doing her best to ignore me.
I found the dog the following morning sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor, her eyes barely open. I could tell she was in discomfort as she shifted ever so slightly in an attempt to relieve her pain. It took several commands to get the dog to lethargically waddle to the door for her morning pee. When she returned, I stood at the door with a liver-flavored Milkbone, as was expected of me for years. She glanced at the treat with squinty eyes and uttered a groan, passing on by and resuming her place on the kitchen floor. I dropped the bone into her doggie dish and told myself she'd be alright tomorrow. She had done this before. There wasn't anything the dog wouldn't eat.
But by the third morning, the dog's condition had worsened. I stared at the critter still sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor, obviously in intense pain. I knew the dog would die if I didn't seek professional medical attention. She wasn't even my dog. My daughter had reluctantly left her behind last fall as she headed off to college, with strict orders to take care of the animal. I couldn't let the canine die on my watch. My child would never forgive me. And I hated to admit it, but I had become attached to Stinky. She was a good dog. She had the bladder of an elephant and never had a mishap in the house. And she made me laugh. She had been a good companion after my daughter had left. I had found comfort in her incessant snoring as I watched TV in the evenings, and her smelly farts were a constant reminder that I was not alone. But what stood out in my mind the most as I made the decision to take her to the vet was that it hadn't rained in a hundred and fifty days. There was no way I could dig a hole in that rock hard dirt to bury her in.
The vet was one of those good old boys that you couldn't help but like. My last encounter with him had been a decade ago when I pulled up into the parking lot of his clinic at midnight in a driving blizzard, a pregnant goat in my trailer who couldn't deliver her baby. When I called and woke him, he had eagerly agreed to meet me and the two of us had bonded somewhat in that hour it took to deliver that baby goat. That adventure had cost me two hundred bucks.
"I believe she is impacted," he said as he gently felt the underside of the dog, "Have you seen her defecate, you know, poop in the last several days?"
I shook my head. It's not like watching dogs poop is a hobby of mine, but I was fairly certain the dog hadn't. She hadn't ventured too far off the patio since she'd became ill.
"An enema will probably fix her up. I'll need to take an x-ray to be certain."
Well, here we go, I thought. How much would that cost? The x-ray apparently confirmed what we all already knew and the doggie nurse appeared in the doorway, scooping Stinky up in her arms.
"You are not going to be happy with me!" she giggled, the dog glancing back at me as if she were going to her execution.
Moments later a recognizable stench permeated the entire vet clinic. I held my breath as my eyes began to water. The smell was undeniably worse than any fart Stinky had ever unleashed. Twenty minutes later, the doggie nurse reappeared with a smiling Stinky in her arm.
"Oh, that poor, poor puppy. She had quite a time getting all that out of her. The doctor wanted another x-ray to be sure we got it all out. She looks good to go!"
With mixed emotions I paid the two hundred dollar bill, silently cursing Stinky and all forms of bacon grease. I glanced down at the dog happily standing at my feet.
"How are you ever going to repay me? No, it's a serious question. Maybe I can sell you on Craig's List for two hundred dollars."
And so, Stinky is back to normal. As I wrap this up, she lumbers from her doggie bed and walks toward the desk, her big brown bug eyes glance upward, an evil grin on her face...and then:
"Oh! Why did you come over here to fart! You think it's funny!" Gag...
They took my ibuprofen away from me. Personally, I wouldn't call myself an addict, but I do admit to driving forty miles to an all-night Super Walmart before just to buy a two dollar bottle of the wonder drug. That little adventure, out in the wee hours of the morning dodging Saturday night drunks, taught me a lesson. From that day forward I always made it a point to have two or three bottles in the cabinet. I still have a couple of bottles. Sure could use a handful of ibuprofen right now, but no. I have something to prove to myself. I am not an ibuprofen addict!
This all started fifteen years ago after spending a summer day painting the trim on the house. I spent the entire night rocking back and forth on the couch, hunched over, tears in my eyes from a pain searing through my shoulders like I'd never experienced before. The next morning I was waiting for the old country doctor when he pulled up in his Ford pickup.
"Well, you're paying for your sins," he teased as he gently gyrated my shoulder in a circular motion, "you're not a young buck anymore. You have discovered the joys of arthritis. Ibuprofen will probably manage it. Run down to the Walmart and buy a bottle."
So began my relationship with the ibuprofen. It worked fairly well for fifteen years, failing me only when a strong cold front came barreling through or when I got a bit too overzealous trying to do my 'manly' chores, like use a screwdriver. But along about last October, something changed. The pills no longer fought off the pain. Nor was the pain just in my shoulders and hands...it began to haunt every joint of my body. Reluctantly, I made a doctor's appointment.
The old country doctor long gone by now, I explained my situation to the doctor who had replaced him. He scribbled a prescription while disinterestedly listening to my whining. Handing me the script, he sternly cautioned me to stop taking the ibuprofen. I became leary of this new medicine when the pharmacist handed me a thirty day supply and charged me a buck fifty. This couldn't work, I thought. Walmart brand ibuprofen costs two dollars a bottle. Two weeks later I stopped taking the prescription and went back to my ibuprofen. Another two weeks and I was back at the doctor's office.
"Those pills you gave me don't work! I still ache all over my body." I spewed, squinting my eyes at him.
"They're not supposed to make you feel better. They stop the damage to your joints. Do you want to feel better? I can give you a steroid called Prednisone. It has very harmful side effects so I will only prescribe one week's supply." he drew his pad from the white coat and scribbled on it, "Here, you can feel better for one week. I'm not doing you any favors! And I will make you an appointment with an arthritis specialist but it may be four months before you can get in to see him."
The following morning I woke up feeling like a twenty-year-old. There was not a single ache in my entire body. I leaped from the bed and threw on my clothes. I hadn't done either in a very long time. Throughout the day my mind began plotting on how I could get my hands on more Prednisone. I desperately needed to find a drug dealer. This stuff was far better than ibuprofen! For the next seven days I did things I hadn't done in months. I could open a bottle of Coke. I could rip open a bag of chips with my bare hands. I could button a shirt...and my blue jeans. Yes, I could even get up off the potty without a single groan. But just as the doctor promised, my seven days of painless bliss was over too soon, and I'd not found a drug dealer who could hook me up with more Prednisone. Woefully, I settled in to wait the four months until my appointment with the specialist.
"You have severe rheumatoid arthritis," he spoke in a foreign accent as his fingers gingerly massaged the knuckles of my hand, "There are many new drugs to treat this, but I am going to prescribe the number one drug for you. It's called METH..."
Well, there was more to the name, but my ears perked up when he said METH. Heck, even I could probably find a drug dealer who could get his hands on meth.
"Methotrexate. It is a cancer drug..."
My eyebrows raised and my eyes bugged out.
"No, it doesn't mean you have cancer, well you may. I don't know. I am an arthritis specialist, not a cancer doctor. But, this drug is often prescribed in low doses for rheumatoid arthritis. It doesn't work immediately. In fact, it may take several weeks. It is very important you do not take ibuprofen with this drug. I will prescribe a painkiller for those bad days...but whatever you do...no ibuprofen!"
Well, today is one of those bad days. Those painkillers sit in the cabinet right next to my ibuprofen. I have read the warning label. It is an opioid. The warning says a single dose could cause death if taken incorrectly. Probably when mixed with ibuprofen, I figure. My eyes dart from the bottle of ibuprofen to the painkillers and back again. I settle back in front of my laptop and Google, 'Black Market Prednisone.'
Canada! Yes! They have Viagra, too. Gotta go, I've found a whole new adventure here...
It slipped up on me, really. I retired just as 2017 wound down, right in the dead middle of winter. From my experience, that may be the absolute worst time of the year to make such a drastic life change. While I have enjoyed sleeping as late as I wish and being able to toss any form of structure into the wind, truthfully I spent most of my time buried beneath a blanket. I detest cold. In fact, when winter rolls around next year, I may back a bag and head south to Costa Rica. I don't really like lizards but probably could get used to sleeping with one as long as it is warm wherever I am at. But for the past few afternoons, I have relished the warmer temperatures that have lured me and Stinky out to the patio to bask in the warm sun, a brisk breeze blowing through my hair at forty miles an hour. Typical for this time of year, we who have been banished to West Texas know that when the winds make their appearance, spring is one step behind. Even with daylight lingering around until seven or so in the evenings, I just hadn't given it much thought until my daughter mentioned it just the other night. Spring Break! Yes! I've been waiting on that.
Heck no, I'm not going on spring break. All spring break means to me at this age is that spring will show up a week later. Trust me, the week of spring break here in west Texas will be overcast, chilly, and it may even snow, but take it from an old timer, when the following week rolls around and the kiddos head back to school, the weather will be absolutely perfect! And that's all I'm waiting on. Besides I am way too old to be indulging in binge drinking, acute alcohol poisoning, experimenting with all the latest synthetic drugs, and wild sex orgies beyond your wildest dreams. Nope, I'll leave all that to my daughter. As she meticulously packs her ten suitcases with everything she could possibly need to get her through a week of spring break on South Padre Island, my eyes tear up a bit as I realize how proud I am of her.
Let me explain. As thousands or perhaps even tens of thousands of college students invade the most popular spring break destination of the southwest, if not the nation, busloads of their peers set out right behind them. Their mission? To save these kids from themselves. My daughter, who is very dedicated to her role in the Baptist Student Ministries on her campus, along with a number of her classmates will spend their spring break ministering to those who need it most, wayward, intoxicated, and misguided young adults searching for something that they don't know they need. Other Baptist Student Ministries from colleges throughout the state of Texas will join them, and as one army of God will embark on perhaps the most important mission of their entire lives.
'Beach Reach' was started in 1980 and has grown into an enormous annual endeavor. The kids involved in the Beach Reach project will be offering transportation to college students too intoxicated to drive. They scoop college students who have passed out from the beach and take them to safety. They will find a way home for those who ran out of money half-way through the week. They will find clothing for those who can't remember where they left theirs. In short, they will take on the roles of guardian angels for a week. And, as well as nourishing the masses with all the pancakes they can consume into the wee hours of the night, they will nourish their souls as well, spreading the Word to all who will listen.
The college kids who have volunteered their spring break for this will pay a portion of their own expenses, a substantial amount for a college student. Yet, hundreds eagerly will head toward the Texas coast with high hopes and prayers leading them into the unknown.
The Baptist Student Ministries provide ongoing services and ministry to students on college campuses throughout the year, such as fifty cent lunches served with a side of the gospel. I've been fortunate to observe one of these lunches, and trust me, they are a hit with broke college students. The ministry offers Bible classes, activities, and fellowship to these kids who find themselves in a whole new world so far from home. If ever I've seen an effort worthy of financial donations, this is it. The Baptist Student Ministry is all some of these college kids have to get them through.
In all my years of writing blogs, I've never done this, but if you feel a tug in your heart to support the efforts of this wonderful organization and the students who so freely give of their own money and time, follow the link below and give something to help...anything would be greatly appreciated. As for me, I'm going to the patio and dream of Costa Rica...and yes, I made my donation!
Baptist Student Ministry Donations https://goo.gl/ARoiFr
The South Plains College BSM exists to share the Gospel and disciple students at SPC. We want them to Believe in Jesus, Belong to a community of His followers, and Become the person God made them to be.
We couldn’t do what we do without your help. We rely on the generosity of Texas Baptist churches and donors like you to keep our doors open. Your gift impacts the spiritual growth of students affects generations to come and reaches into eternity. Thank you for partnering with us!