When Charlotte approached the car, Nannygranne could tell she was about to explode. Her stormy expression said it all. She yanked the car door open, threw her backpack in the floorboard, then flopped into the seat and huffed, “Karen’s NOT being fair!” Struggling with her seatbelt, she continued to fume. “I can’t believe she thinks she’s going to be the Pep Princess! I’m as good as she is!”
Nannygranne quietly reached over to steady the seatbelt clamp until Charlotte’s belt buckled, and her rant blew itself out. Nannygranne gave her time to say the next thing on her mind. Suddenly Charlotte burst into tears.
Nannygranne stroked her hair and said softly,” It sounds like your day did NOT go as you’d planned. How about we run by Sonic for a soft drink, and you can tell me about it before I take you home.” Charlotte blew her nose and nodded okay.
Once they had their orders, Nannygranne waited expectantly.
After a long silence, Charlotte was ready to talk. “Well, everybody’s been practicing cheers in cheerleading practice, and the teacher said she wanted us all to vote on our leader. Everybody’s voted, but Karen’s telling everybody she’s the winner. That’s not fair! If she wins, I’m just going to quit!”
Nannygranne knew Charlotte’s attitude was not coming from a place of fairness, either, but she understood that, to Charlotte, this was a blow to her sense of justice. “Did I ever tell you about the man I knew who felt somebody mistreated him on the job? He was expected actually to help a neighborhood gang! There’s nothing fair about that.”
Charlotte shook her head. “No, you never told me that story.”
“Well, this guy was told by his boss to travel to this town where the gangs killed people and controlled everything. They were known for being dangerous murderers. When he got the message, he decided to act like he’d never gotten it and took a sudden trip out of the country. Well, it turned out to be a bad experience. He got into trouble with the locals. The guy ended up trapped and couldn’t get a ticket back home or use his money. He was stuck in a bad place for three days.”
“No kidding,” Charlotte gasped. “This really happened?”
“Yes, it really happened. Anyway, my guy sent word back to his boss that he was sorry he didn’t get the job done and needed some help out of his mess. The boss had connections, so he managed to get the guy out of his situation and back home. The boss told him he only needed him to talk to a few people in the neighborhood: Get the word out on the streets that he now owned that town, and their days were numbered. Well, my guy figured he might as well do that and it would be finished. It shouldn’t be too hard. He’d do it, get the job done, and then get back out before everything hit the fan.”
“Did he get hurt? Did he manage to stay safe?”
“Well, when the gang leader heard who this guy represented, they backed down pretty quickly. My guy was disappointed. He wanted to see them get what was coming to them. So rather than leave the area, he hid outside of town and waited to see what would happen. But he was badly disappointed. The gangs just gave it up and decided to cooperate with the boss.”
“That’s CRAZY! When did this happen? Who was the boss?” Charlotte was invested and impatient for the end of the story.
“Well, there’s more to the story,” Nannygranne said, sidestepping Charlotte’s questions. “Would you believe nothing happened! My guy was so mad! The boss asked him what the deal was, and my guy told him he didn’t understand how he could be so unfair. Those gangs shouldn’t get away with all they’d done. He thought the boss was soft and wishy-washy. And another thing: He hated that town! He was ready to chuck it all and quit!”
“Good grief. That guy had a temper. His boss had helped him out of trouble and didn’t fire him when he disappeared. And now he’s mad at the boss? That’s crazy!” Charlotte was beginning to see the point.
“I know. Actually, the boss didn’t say a thing to his employee. He just put him up in a comfortable Air B&B for a couple of days. Well, my guy was so mad at the boss that he holed up there. Then rather than go back to work, he decided he’d take some personal time and stay right where he was and wait for the boss to come around. But after a few days, the Air B&B got rented to someone else, and my guy was out. He slept in his car that night, and now he was fit to be tied.”
“But couldn’t he get fired for that?”
“Well, that’s where the story gets really strange. The boss called him and asked him why he was so upset. He reminded the guy that he’d had a couple of days in the Air B&B for free. Also, the boss reminded him that the town was better off than it was before. So what was his problem?”
Nannygranne stopped. “The End.”
Charlotte waited, then finally said, “Well? What ended up happening?”
“Nothing. That was it. But I was wondering who you think was being unfair in the story.” Nannygranne stirred her malt and waited for Charlotte to answer.
Finally, Charlotte admitted she didn’t know for sure, but it seemed like the guy was the one being unfair. It was the boss’s decision about the town. And the boss bent over backward to help the guy, but the guy wasn’t even grateful. “That’s a weird story,” Charlotte finished.
“Well, I modernized the story quite a bit, but the guy’s name was Jonah, and God was the boss. Nineveh was a wicked place. They’d kill everyone in a city, cut their heads off, and stack them at the road into town. These were bad characters. Your situation at school brought that story to mind, though it’s an extreme example. I wondered if it reminded you of your trouble with Karen. Your teacher’s the boss. Maybe Karen’s the one doing wrong stuff–just not as bad as Nineveh. What do you think?”
After drinking the last of her cherry limeade, she finally asked, “Who was this guy, Nannygranne? When did this happen?”
“Well, I’m glad the teacher didn’t tell me to talk to Karen, but I guess she’s not my problem. I guess the teacher will get everything straight. “
“That’s pretty perceptive of you, Charlotte. Let your teacher be boss, and you do your part, and whatever happens, you will be just fine. Who knows? Maybe you’ve gotten the most votes. But even if not, you’re still just as good as you are, and you can shine anyway.”
Nannygranne hoped it would be that simple for Charlotte. By the looks of her quiet smile, she felt Charlotte’s attitude had improved.
“Nannygranne, thanks. I guess I did get a little too wound up about the whole thing. And thanks for the limeade.”
Nannygranne laughed as she tucked her now-empty cup in the plastic bag used for garbage. “You’re welcome. Any excuse for ice cream works for me. I can’t wait to find out how the vote went, but mostly I can’t wait to see you girls at the game Friday night. And I’m glad you didn’t decide to quit.”