October 6, 2011
Parking Lot of a church that shall remain unnamed
I’m in my car on my son’s laptop (which I’m using without telling him because if he finds out he’ll accuse me of “messing up his settings.”) recording my findings from the parking lot. So far, it’s been quiet. I’ve parked my nondescript mom mobile an equal distance from the church’s front door to my neighbor’s car. Oh yeah, some of you don’t know the back story and by some of you I mean those of you who don’t check the Snarky In the Suburbs page on Facebook. I don’t mean to scold, but you people are slowing down the whole Snarky train. Would it be too much to ask that you open a FB account under an assumed name and address just so you can stay up-to-date? (I’m guessing that’s a no.) Okay, back to business. Here’s what occurred that forced me to go all Brenda Lee Johnson (love her) from The Closer in a church parking lot.
Yesterday morning at approx. 8:47 a.m.
I’m walking my two dogs, which is really akin to herding cats, through the neighborhood and I see my way down the street, bible bunko neighbor. (Whom I previously described on Facebook as about as fascinating as a bowl of Rice Chex, which upon further reflection is inaccurate. She’s more Cream of Wheat, original recipe. So not that yummy maple syrup and brown sugar variety.) She’s in her driveway with tears in her eyes, standing by her car, which has all four doors wide open. I stop, of course, to ask what’s wrong. While I’m asking this I’m mentally thinking she probably didn’t have time to put dinner in the crock pot or something equally boring that led to this episode of watery eyes. Although I’m hoping that it’s something juicy like she just found out her husband is a cross dressing swinger and wants to start borrowing her shoes and Spanx. What I got from her was even better, if you can believe that? I know I still can’t
Mrs. Cream of Wheat blurts out that she thinks a woman she works with at her church’s Mother’s Day Out program hid 6 dirty diapers in her car! When she went to get in her car this morning to go to, where else, but church, she was almost knocked to the ground by the overwhelming smell of festering feces. Cream of Wheat says she opened all her car doors, held her breath and then started digging around in her car for what was causing the odor. Shoved under the rear passenger seats she found not 1, not 2, but 6 poopy diapers.
I just stood there with my mouth hanging open. Who would terrorize this seemingly bland, very nice, mild-mannered 50-year-old woman by breaking into her car and depositing used diapers? I was intrigued and that left me no other alternative, but to offer her my investigative services. I mean, really, what else could one do? You just don’t hear a story like that and go, “Oh, wow, I’m sorry that happened. Why don’t you try using some Gain Febreze?”
No, this kind of story demands action. Anything else would just be un-neighborly and I’m nothing if not neighborly.
Cream of Wheat seems confused when I offer to help track down who is doing this to her. She asks me if I used to be in law enforcement. Sadly, I had to answer no. I so want to carry a gun and kick ass, but me (ch)armed and dangerous was never meant to be. (Total bummer on that one.) I do tell her I used be an investigative reporter and that’s no lie.
She seems scared of me. I’m used to this reaction but after years of having people slowly back away from me, I know how to talk them down and win them over. I finally convince her that she needs my help by pointing out that, perhaps, it was divine intervention that sent me to her. I really never head in this direction on my morning dog walk. I usually go another route. But, today, for some reason, I went towards her home just at the precise minute she was standing in her driveway in distress.
Praise the Lord, she agreed with that. So, I helped her freshen up her car, told her to not throw away the diapers, calling them evidence, and off she goes to bible study, but not before agreeing to meet with me this afternoon at 5.
Yesterday afternoon 5 p.m.
Cream of Wheat’s House
I suggested we meet at Cream of Wheat’s house. I knew if we held the meeting at my home my nosey, tattle-tale kids, would eavesdrop and be texting their dad my latest scheme. Like I need that kind of hassle. I showed up with one of my old reporter notebooks which look just like something I’m sure the F.B.I. would use. I had worked out my list of questions. This wasn’t my first rodeo people. One doesn’t grow up reading Encyclopedia Brown, Agatha Christie and DVR’ing every C.S.I., N.C.I.S., and all the Law & Order’s without having a serious set of interview skills.
I first asked if she had any idea who would be doing this to her? She seemed reluctant to answer. This is what happens when you are a very nice person. You don’t want to point the finger or think the worse of anyone. I can freely admit, I’ve never had that problem. Slowly, I coax it out of her the name of the woman who “seems to have an issue” with her at the M.D.O. Then I ask “How do you think she’s getting in your car?”
I had already looked for signs of forced entry or any trace evidence on Cream of Wheat’s car and hadn’t seen any. I also, with one of my son’s drumsticks, (sorry son) had gone through the poppy diapers. What I found was interesting. There was no one brand of diaper. Based on the cartoon character or color (1 denim diaper (really?), one camouflage (really? again) the diapers were 1 generic, 2 Pampers, 1 Luvs, and 2 Huggies.
I asked Cream if when the M.D.O. changed the toddlers diapers did they use church brought diapers or did each mom leave diapers for their child? She said when they had to change a toddler they used diapers bought by the M.D.O. program citing that is was easier than digging through all the different diaper bags. This proved that if the crime was happening at the M.D.O. it was after the collective diaper change. Cream said that after lunch each child got their diaper changed before nap time.
I had a couple more questions. “Is there anytime when you leave the toddler room for more than, say, 5 minutes?”
Cream volunteered that right after lunch she takes all the food trash to the church kitchen garbage cans. That’s when she also gets a soda from the vending machine and stops off at the four-year old room to say hi to her little niece. My next question was where does she leave her purse? She told me that they all leave their purses in the room, in cubbies. Lastly, I asked who, if anyone, takes the dirty diapers, out of the room. From that I extrapolated a time line. Let me tell you, if I was tested on this kind of math and reasoning skills on the S.A.T. I wouldn’t be here writing this dumb ass blog. I’d be on the Harvard alumni website crowing about my newest scientific breakthrough.
Here’s how I think the diaper dump is going down: When Cream leaves the toddler room at the M.D.O. around noon someone in the room uses that opportunity to get Cream’s car keys out her purse. That person then volunteers to take the dirty diapers to the outside dumpster, but instead of the dumpster they go in the back-seat of Cream’s car. Then the Diaper Dumper rushes back inside, puts Cream’s keys back in her purse, and no one is the wiser. Why the person is doing this foul deed to Cream is not my first priority. The number one objective is to catch her in the act.
Clearly, I had to do a stake out. Based on my time line the Diaper Dumper would strike between 12 and 12:15 at Thursday’s M.D.O. I’d be in position in the church parking lot at 11:30 and I planned to record the dumper in action. I instructed Cream to say nothing about finding the gross diapers in her car. She was to act as if her car smelled fresh as a daisy. I wanted to provoke the dumper to strike again.
This morning – My House
You can not imagine how excited I am about the stake-out! I couldn’t help myself and had to share my big plan with my family. My husband, who you would think would be proud of me, walks out the door for work this morning, not with a “I love you” or even a “Good luck at your stake-out.”
No, this is what I get, “Don’t get yourself shot” and then he turns and says, “Or get us sued.”
I’m so tired of hearing that. Just because in the past some people, may or may not, have threatened legal action against me is no reason to leave the house every morning with that kind of goodbye. He really needs to let it go.
As for my kids I think they should be more impressed by me. I’m out there solving crimes – solo. Who else does that? Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. I had to tell both of them repeatedly to not bother me today with any phone calls or texts of the “I forgot my P.E. shoes, band instrument, books etc” variety because I would be working a stake-out. As I dropped each of them off at their respective schools I delighted in bellowing out the window, “Remember, I’ll be on a stake-out!”
Both of them just keep on walking and shaking their heads. Ingrates.
I rushed home, walked the dogs, unloaded the dishwasher, threw a load of laundry in the dryer and then prepared for my stake-out grooming. Really can you go wrong with black Target track pants (capri), a black t-shirt, a C.S.I. baseball hat I got from the Vegas airport 5 years ago, my husband’s lawn mowing sunglasses because they cover my face more and I think look a little bad ass, tennis shoes, plus a quick dab of my new gift with purchase Philosophy lip balm?
I loaded my supplies in the car that included my son’s computer, my phone, my 32 ounce diet coke and the notes from yesterday and headed to the church. It was on people. It was on!
My first problem was where to park. I didn’t want to park to close to my neighbor’s car because I thought that would scare the dumper away. But I wanted to be close enough to properly videotape the crime so there would be no doubt what was going on and who was doing it. I drove around and tried some spots and tested them with my phone video camera to see what angle would take the best picture and be the least conspicuous. Then I waited. Well, first I posted on Facebook that the stake-out had begun and then I settled in to wait. Then I got bored and started typing all this up for you to read and now I’m done typing and have nothing to do besides as everyone on Facebook predicted – use the bathroom.
12:07 p.m. Uh, oh, I see a woman leaving the church with what looks a white kitchen size trash bag. Gotta go.
I’m now renaming this The Case of the Holy Crap Storm. I would have never volunteered my services if I had known I would have to endure a hostile Q & A by a member of the clergy. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s back up to 12:07 p.m.
There’s a woman walking in the direction of my neighbor’s car with a trash bag. She’s seems to be about my age and looks very attractive. Totally Mom of the Month material. Jeans, what seems to be a J. Crew sweater set and from what I could tell some really darling flats. What in the name of God is this mom doing putting soiled diapers in a co-church member’s car (and as a side bar thought I’m thinking who wears an outfit that cute to work in the toddler room of a M.D.O. program)?
I’ve slouched down in my front seat and I’ve got my video camera on her. Sweet Jesus, I see her point the unlockey thing at the car. She’s in and I get her bending over and stuffing diapers not just behind the front seats, but she’s got the hatchback open and it looks like she’s got at least two in there. Then I freeze. What do I do now? I’ve got it on tape, well, really digital imaging, but do I just show it to my neighbor and be done with it? Do I get out of my car and say something? Do I perp walk her through the parking lot? Then I thought W.W.J.D.? What Would (Brenda Lee) Johnson Do? The heroine of The Closer would get out of her surveillance vehicle and confront the “suspect.”
I slowly opened my car door, jumped out and yelled as I was walking towards her, “Why are you putting dirty diapers in a car that isn’t yours?”
She jerks her head out of the rear of the car and stares at me. That’s my cue to keep on talking. In an authoritative voice that I use when playing Clue I say, “I don’t know who are, but I know you must be a member of this church and work in the Mother’s Day Out program. I also know that this is at least the second time you’ve illegally entered this car and vandalized it.”
I added, “Did you know what you’re doing is against the law and qualifies as criminal mischief.” (Right about now friends, I was impressing myself – big time. This could be my calling – accosting strangers in parking lots.) She still just stood there, all deer in the headlights. I then quickly added, “Um are you okay?”
This is when I saw what the Diaper Dumper is made of. She looks at me, you can tell she’s sizing me up, and pulls a real bone head move. She accuses me of “trespassing on private church property”!!!
Let’s review shall we. I’ve got her on camera entering a car that isn’t hers and stuffing used diapers in it and she’s coming back at me that I’m on church property. Well, now I’m Old Testament ticked off. I reply with my best “hey dumb ass” voice and say, “I’m not trespassing on church property if I’m parked here to go inside the church to show my neighbor the video of you vandalizing her car.”
This shuts her up for a moment. As I race walk into the church she’s in hot pursuit not pleading her case, not throwing herself on my mercy, but bitching to me that it’s illegal to tape someone without their permission. God, who is she – Nancy Grace?
Once I get into the church I stop. I’ve never been in this church before in my life. I don’t have the slightest idea where to find my neighbor. I thought I would hear kids or at the very least follow the tell-tale smells of M.D.O.- slobber, wet diaper and play-dough. But, I’ve got nothing. I notice that the Ladies room is right across the hall and I desperately needed to use it after that 32 ouncer. I figure it wouldn’t hurt to take potty break and catch my breath. I also notice that the Diaper Dumper has disappeared. I’m guessing she’s grabbed her purse and is leaving the premises. That guess was incorrect.
As soon as I exit the Ladies room Diaper Dumper and the M-i-n-i-s-t-e-r of the church are waiting for me. The reverend asks to see some identification! Yeah, right. I’m doing a citizen’s arrest in the parking lot and the first thing I think of is to grab my incredible Coach bag that I scored at an outlet mall for $50.00 during my vacation 2 months ago, that’s a big no on that one. All I had on me were my car keys in the pocket of my hoodie and my phone.
I told the minister that my neighbor in the toddler M.D.O. would vouch for me. He sends his secretary to retrieve her. About a minute later my neighbor is walking up the hall. She gives me a distressed look and I announce to no one and everyone that the lady standing across from me is the Diaper Dumper and I got her in action on my phone.
The pastor asks to see the evidence and I show him the recording of the Diaper Dumper. He watches, says nothing, goes back in his office to get his glasses and watches it again. Then calls his secretary out and they watch it together. I’m thinking, c’mon folks it’s not the Zapruder films. It’s a pretty high quality recording with some excellent camera work of one of your M.D.O employees/church members going all crazy pants or crazy diapers, as the case maybe. He then asks my neighbor and the Diaper Dumper to go into his office while he talks to me.
Huh? Aren’t his hands full enough already? Why does he need to talk to me? Unless he’s going to thank me but somehow I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen. He begins to grill me on “my role in this.”
I know I’m in the house of the Lord and I know this man standing in front of me is allegedly a spiritual person ordained by God. But, I don’t think it says anywhere in the bible that I have to take crap off of him. I begin talking very slowly because at this point I’m doubting his intelligence and ability to process even the simplest monosyllabic words and explain that my poor neighbor, one of his flock, was being terrorized by one of his employees. I, as a citizen of Earth, felt duty bound to offer my assistance. I also pointed out that this was a case of criminal mischief and charges could be filed.
He was silent for a moment and then asked me to erase my recording. I said, “That’s a great big no.”
He then asked that I “not share this unfortunate incident with anyone.”
“Hmm,” I said. “That’s going to be a problem. I was on Facebook about it yesterday and I was giving status updates about my stake out when I was in my car in the church parking lot.”
He looked to be turning green. So, I added, “Here’s what you can do for me. You should be very nice to my neighbor. She loves this church and I respect that. You also must and as I mother I mean right now, get the Diaper Dumper off your staff and away from kids. She obviously has some mental health issues that need to be addressed. Who knows maybe it’s as simple as her cholesterol meds are messing with her Zoloft, but you have a moral and legal duty to get that figured out.”
His response to my very stern yet passionate Law & Order-ish speech was, “I’ll pray for you.”
You could tell from his tone he didn’t mean it in a very reverendly manner. It sounded more like a put down, like the ecclesiastic equivalent of “F You.” So, I quipped, “right back at ya” and added, “you should also pay to have my neighbor’s car detailed” and with that walked out of that church.
The fact that I didn’t get struck my lightning when exiting the building was a sign to me that the big guy/girl way upstairs had my back on this one.
Four hours later I go over to my neighbor’s. I’m relieved that Cream of Wheat greets me with a smile. I asked her what happened. The Diaper Dumper decided to take some “extended personal time” away from her M.D.O. duties and my friend was promoted to head of the Toddler Room.
I said, “that’s great and all, but did she ever give a reason for putting the diapers in your car?”
She quickly and succinctly responded, “She was jealous of me. Can you believe that?”
“Of course I can,” I say. “Your sane and she’s crazy. She was jealous of your sanity.”
I keep on prodding and finally in bits and pieces a story comes about envy, misplaced rage, coveting and revenge. A whole 10 Commandment/Golden Rule saga. Who knew a church Mother’s Day Out program could be such a hot bed of seething emotions? It seems Cream of Wheat was becoming a raising star in the M.D.O. program. She started working in the toddler room right after Labor Day and the little kids loved her, all the moms thought she was wonderful and the director of M.D.O. told everyone who would listen that Cream of Wheat was “quite possible that best M.D.O. worker she had ever had.”
Apparently, Diaper Dumper, last year’s M.D.O. Queen Bee, got jealous and was attempting to make Cream quit by freaking her out with the dirty diapers in her car. Got a headache yet? I know I do.
While you maybe thinking the moral of this story is to approach any Mother’s Day Out program with extreme caution or to beware of clergy that ask for I.D it’s not. Although, both of those are excellent ideas. The moral is I should really, seriously, consider opening up a detective agency. I think I rock at this – kind of.
P.S. I will never post the video so don’t ask. Remember my husband’s second commandment: Thou shalt not get us sued.
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