Tuesday at Noon: Helton Elementary School Wishes you Happy Holidays!

‘Tis the season…for flu and strep at Helton Elementary School.

As a follow up to my post a few weeks ago, I’ve continued to receive recorded voicemails from Patty Grubner, principal at Helton Elementary School in Golden.  As I suspected, the past several weeks have been very busy for students and teachers.  Patty has called to remind parents about half days, school bus route consolidation, holiday parties and best of all, the flu and strep throat epidemic that has reached near pandemic proportions at this little school.

In fact, news last Wednesday was that Patty had decided to call the holiday concert off as Mr. Nye, the director of they Coyote Choir, had come down with a nasty cold that had left him walking out of his chorus room after only a few hours at school each day.  In her words, “He just can’t shake it.”

So after Wednesday’s gruesomely detailed voice mail left me reaching for a packet of Emergen-C to add to my water bottle, my phone rang in the middle of the work day on Thursday.  My caller i.d. showed it was coming from “Elementary Schools_GoldenCO.”  I picked up immediately, and felt a little thrill.

“Hello, this is Bridget.”

“Hello Mrs. Campbell?  This is Patty Grubner from Helton Elementary School.”

It was with a sort of sadness I had to tell her I was not Mrs. Campbell and that I basically had no business knowing the details of what’s happening at an elementary school up the road from my office.  And also, I told Patty that I had contacted Francis in the front office in request to have my work phone number taken off the call list.  And one more thing, there is only one Mrs. Campbell that works in our building, and she’s just recently become a Campbell (congrats on your marriage, Tiffany!)

Patty apologized and said she would see to it that I was taken off the call list.  I asked her to please pass on my best wishes for a speedy recovery to Mr. Nye and hung up my  phone.

I then stared out the window for three minutes.  I felt…inquisitive.

Why had Patty been calling me DURING the work day?  Is Mrs. Campbell’s son or daughter ill [most likely considering the petri dish that is Helton currently]?  Is he or she in some sort of trouble? Had they stuffed a pea stone up their nose at recess?  Forgotten their diorama depicting a particularly mysterious scene in on of The Boxcar Children book series?  In desperate need of milk money?

It’s with a little sadness that I fear my updates of Helton Elementary are over, but I have no doubt that it’s only a matter of time before I’ll get another call for someone who isn’t me, and I’ll get a glimpse at a life running parallel to mine somehow.



Tuesday at Noon: [Don't] Call Me.

It all started a few months back.

On my work voicemail one week, between calls from customers and managers, there were a smattering of messages from a school in Golden, Colorado, right up the road from where I work.

“Hello.  This is Patty Grubner from Helton Elementary School* with an update for you parents…”

The messages continued through the weeks with all sorts of school information. From bake sales, to lice outbreaks in a second grade classroom to my favorite, a bear cub spotted on the playground on a Sunday afternoon–”We are investigating this serious report with vigor and recess will be suspended until we figure out what’s going on…”–each message was very detailed and Patty would give a warning if it was going to be a long bout of information or just a quick update.  It was all mildly entertaining and I looked forward to hearing about the goings on at the school.

However, after this morning’s message complete with a thank-you to voters on passed measures affecting education in Colorado, I suddenly realized that if I’m getting these calls, perhaps an actual parent to a child attending the school is not.

I called Helton Elementary and spoke to Francis.

She said that unfortunately, the voicemail goes out to a list managed by the school’s IT services.  She took my number to see what she could do to get me off the list.  In the meantime, she assured me I should “hang tight” and enjoy the entertainment.

I hope I’m not off the list before the holidays.  Imagine all the exciting things that could happen at an elementary school as Christmas and Hanukkah approach!

And I’m still waiting on an update with the bear cub situation.

*All names have been changed to protect the innocent.  Lice?  Gross.

Tuesday at Noon: She’s for Mitt.

I take yoga once a week at a community center [big ole' middle school gym] in my neighborhood.

Last week it was raining hard and very chilly when I got to class early.  I was glad to be there alone for fifteen minutes as I was reading a book I could not put down.

When I sat in the gym with my back against the brick wall and my bottom on the wood floor and cracked open my book, a very cute older lady with her hair tied out of her face and off her neck in a sweet purple bandanna walked in with her cleaning cart and a broom.  I looked up.

“Don’t worry, hon’,” she said.  ”I already swept!  I’m just going to clean up around the doors and I’ll be out of here.”

“Take your time,” I told her and settled into my spot.

She squirted and wiped and scrubbed.  Then her cell phone rang.  She took her gloves off and put them on the cart, opened her phone and held it up to her ear.

“Hello?”  she asked.

And after a minute.

“Oh, hello there.”

And one more moment.

“Oh yes for Romney, of course!”

And then after some quiet a smile spread across her face.

“Well aren’t you cute.  I think you’re smart too!”


Tuesday at Noon: Backyard figs.

At the supermarket a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of having a darling older gentleman with white hair and heavy-looking glasses as the bagger in my checkout lane.  I was in a super rush through the market, preparing to host a ladies night for the gals on our floor in the building.

I was picking up lots of last-minute snacks – brie, bread, crackers, veggies and mmmm, Dalmatia fig spread.  I can’t get enough of this stuff.  It’s basically delicious with everything.  Anyway.

The gentleman bagger was sorting items to place in the bags and he picked up the fig spread.  I was swiping my loyalty card and making small talk with the cashier.

“How do you like this?”  he asked me.

“Oh, the fig spread?  I love it,”  I said.  He was just really friendly looking and I was touched by his interest in my groceries.

“You know, my mother, when she was a little girl, she lived in a house with a fig tree in the backyard.  And she just loved eating those figs off the tree.  She just loved it.”

I wondered where this conversation was going…or even if it was a conversation.

“I wonder if she’d like this,” he said, looking at the spread.  ”You know, my mother is in her late nineties.  I may bring her some of this when I see her next.”  He looked sweet while imagining how happy his mother may be if he were to visit her with some fig spread.

I said she would probably love it.  It wouldn’t compare to a fresh fig off a tree in a backyard, but it may just make her day.  I thanked him for bagging and quickly rushed out to my car and drove home to play hostess.

Looking back on this small slice of a day in my life and his, I wish I had taken a moment to breathe and forget about the time ticking away and the ladies coming over for after-dinner wine and nosh.  I wish I’d gone back and bought that man some fig spread for his mother.

But maybe just listening was good enough.