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Friday, February 04, 2005

Crazy - Beautiful World

It always seems to happen: about the time I feel some bit of hope for the world we live in, something comes along and makes me wonder why God has allowed things to go on this long.

The good:
I wrote a check, yesterday, for over $25,000 for Tsunami relief efforts. The money was raised by the people of St. Joan of Arc Church (my job, in other words) throughout January. $25,000. Included in that was $75 from some kids who had been saving quarters. They decided there were folks who needed that money more than they did. They put me and my paltry Tsunami donation to shame.

And, what our church did is just one tiny piece in the overall effort by churches and aid organizations around the country.

More of the good:
The mother who lost her son in the war embracing the Iraqi woman who had just voted for the first time. Yes, Saddam had elections. He passed out ballots with his name as the only choice, and the check mark already printed. To see this encounter at the State of the Union was heart warming.

Last of the good:
Iraq had an election. Imperfect, yes. But a vast improvement over where they were. Imagine what the turn out would be if Americans had to walk past spray painted messages that voters would "pay" and dodge bullets and bombs to vote. Well, come to think of it, Americans are stubborn enough that it might actually increase our voter turnout.

There is a report not only of people in Iraq having the courage to vote, but having the courage to stand up to insurgents when they came back to make the voters "pay". Elections are a despot's worst nightmare. People who will fight for their rights make dictators shake. Here's hoping it is the first of better things still to come.

The bad:
I don't know if this story is goofy enough to invalidate the above, but it is close.

Cookie klatch lands girls in court

By Electa Draper
Denver Post Staff Writer

Two Durango teens thought they'd surprise neighbors with nighttime deliveries of home-baked treats. But one woman was so terrified, she sued and has won.

Two teenage girls decided one summer's evening to skip a dance where there might be cursing and drinking to stay home and bake cookies for their neighbors.

Big mistake.

They were sued, successfully, for an unauthorized cookie drop on one porch.

The July 31 deliveries consisted of half a dozen chocolate-chip and sugar cookies accompanied by big hearts cut out of red or pink construction paper with the message: "Have a great night."

The notes were signed, "Love, The T and L Club," code for Taylor Ostergaard, then 17, and Lindsey Jo Zellitti, 18.

Inside one of the nine scattered rural homes south of Durango that got cookies that night, a 49-year-old woman became so terrified by the knocks on her door around 10:30 p.m. that she called the sheriff's department. Deputies determined that no crime had been commited.

But Wanita Renea Young ended up in the hospital emergency room the next day after suffering a severe anxiety attack she thought might be a heart attack.

A Durango judge Thursday awarded Young almost $900 to recoup her medical bills. She received nothing for pain and suffering.

"The victory wasn't sweet," Young said Thursday afternoon. "I'm not gloating about it. I just hope the girls learned a lesson."

YES, I'm sure they learned not to try to do something nice for someone. Congrats. You'll probably go to your bridge club and complain about how "kids these days" don't respect anyone and how they're "a lot different" than when you were a kid.

Taylor's mother, Jill Ostergaard, said her daughter "cried and cried" after Judge Doug Walker handed down his decision in La Plata County Small Claims Court.

"She felt she was being punished for doing something nice," Jill Ostergaard said.

The judge said that he didn't think the girls acted maliciously but that it was pretty late at night for them to be out. He didn't award any punitive damages.

Pretty Late? Is that how they define curfews in Durango? "Well, It's purrty late. Y'all know once it's purrty late, you'ns suppos-ta git on home."

Taylor and Lindsey declined to comment Thursday, saying only that they didn't want to say anything hurtful.

Young said the girls showed "very poor judgment."

But Taylor had asked her father's permission to bake cookies for the neighbors after livestock-tending chores were done.

"I said, 'Go ahead, as long as I get some cookies,"' Richard Ostergaard said Thursday.

Just as dusk arrived a little after 9 p.m., Taylor and Lindsey began their mad spree. They didn't stop at houses that were dark. But where lights shone, the girls figured people were awake and in need of cookies. A kitchen light was on at Young's home.

Court records contain half a dozen letters from neighbors who said that they enjoyed the unexpected treats.

The cookies were good. It was a nice surprise. They weren't scared.

But Young, home with her own 18-year-old daughter and her elderly mother, said she saw shadowy figures who banged and banged at her door. When she called out, "Who's there?" no one answered. The figures ran off.

She thought perhaps they were burglars or some neighbors she had tangled with in the past, she said.

One saving grace about this story is that it appears the burglars in Durango are polite enough to knock before entering and stealing you blind. And, if you just yell, "Who's there!" then they run off. It seems perhaps ADT and Sonitrol would have very little business to do in Durango.

"We just wanted to surprise them," Taylor said.

Young left her home that night to stay at her sister's, but her symptoms, including shaking and an upset stomach, wouldn't subside. The next morning she went to Mercy Medical Center.

"We feel that knocking on a door and leaving cookies is a gesture of kindness and would not create an anxiety attack in the general public," Taylor's parents wrote to the court.

The girls wrote letters of apology to Young. Taylor's letter, written a few days after the episode, said in part: "I didn't realize this would cause trouble for you. ... I just wanted you to know that someone cared about you and your family."

These are the girls who showed poor judgment? Whatever.

The families had offered to pay Young's medical bills if she would agree to indemnify the families against future claims.

Young wouldn't sign the agreement. She said the families' apologies rang false and weren't delivered in person. The matter went to court.

Young said she believes that the girls should not have been running from door to door late at night.

"Something bad could have happened to them," she said.

It did. You showed them just how much of a losing battle it is to try to show charity to some people.

I only hope these girls don't stop being nice and considerate of others because of this.

Yeah, after re-reading this, I think it DOES, in fact go a long way toward negating the good mentioned above...

Like I said, sometimes you have to wonder...


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