A Strange Dinner Conversation


It was a strange dinner conversation. Before it concluded many things came to mind. I wondered: “Is it just me or is it endemic of everyone?” Actually, I didn’t know the answer to that question. That is one of the things that made the dinner conversation so disturbing.

Just before going to dinner, I read about the 32-year-old father who was arrested in Bell County after his three young children were found abandoned in a van on the side of the road. The children were ages 3, 4 & 7. Did it make a difference that the road was IH-35? Did it make a difference that it was 2:30 a.m.? Did the van break down and the father went for assistance? There wasn’t a lot of detail in the story, but the thought of three young children abandoned made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

I’m an old child protective services worker. What was the father thinking? Had it not been for the Good Samaritan who saw the door to the van open and stopped to see if assistance was needed, the abandonment may not have been discovered. Reportedly the Good Samaritan was on his way home from work at the time. He was in Salado, TX. It really isn’t crucial to the story line, but I wondered where the Good Samaritan worked? If you’re headed home from work at 2:30 a.m., you’ve either had a very long day or you stopped off at the “Dew Drop Inn” for more than “happy hour”.  I was confused. None of the story made sense, but I was horrified with the thought of three very small children left in those circumstances.

I found myself discussing the dimensions of the case with myself at dinner. I know what you’re thinking: “That’s really weird!” Granted it was. That is one of the things that made my dinner conversation so disturbing. The only person engaged in my conversation was me.   I was dining alone. How weird is that? Do you ever talk to yourself?

In my defense, let me clarify that it was a silent conversation that took place in the privacy of my head. It was not the kind of conversation that others in the restaurant could overhear. Why was I even attempting to look at the broader picture? Hands down, an adult leaving a 3, 4 & 7 year old without support or supervision was a huge violation of prudent judgment!   Certainly the kids were in imminent peril. Never ever should something like that happen!

I don’t question that, but were there factors the father had no control over that left him with the thought that he had no choice? I filter most circumstance through the lenses of what would I do. It would be a simple decision for me. I’d use my cell phone to call for assistance. What if you have no cell phone, no money or no one to call? What do you do then? There are always two sides to every story. I found myself feeling sorry for both the small children and their father. What a mess!

Seriously, “Is it just me or is everybody nuts?” One of the other topics for conversation (the silent kind in my head) was the bold plan crafted by Mayor Svante Myrick in Ithaca, New York, to establish a safe place for heroin users to shoot up under the supervision of medical staff without negative consequences from law enforcement officials. Talk about a city of refuge!  Did I say that aloud or just put it in writing? Is that just plain crazy or what? In case you’re wonder, “just plain crazy” is much worse than ordinary “crazy”.

Actually, I found myself discussing the humanitarian aspect of the mayor’s proposal. In reality, people addicted to heroin aren’t in a place they have the cognitive ability to promote a lifestyle change. Their inability to stop the negative spiral that is orchestrating their demise is overpowering. Could the plan help keep people alive and potentially funnel them into a treatment program where change and restored hope might be possible?

Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking the same thing that everybody else is thinking. I even had those same thoughts myself. Some of what I was thinking is embarrassingly inhumane. Is a total disregard for the wellbeing of others ever justified? You’ll have to ask God? I don’t have those answers, but I suspect the answer God comes up with will differ significantly from what most of us think. That, too, was a topic of the conversation playing itself out in my head.

Let me be up front. The entire dinner conversation in my head was directly related to an error I made yesterday. I won’t factor in all the details, but I sent an agenda for a board meeting scheduled for Thursday to one of the boards I work with stating the meeting was today? Okay “orientation to time and place” is a key ingredient to cognition. Four days ago, I playfully headed one of my blogs: “Do You Have Any Idea How Close To Unglued I Came?”  A really good friend responded to that blog by suggesting “It was too late. I already had.” At dinner last night, I had the thought: “Could my friend be right? Have I come unglued?”

Let me paint a broader picture. I had a board meeting on Monday. I had a board meeting in a different location on Tuesday. I am in Houston today and I have a board meeting tomorrow back in Round Rock. In addition, I’m leaving tomorrow afternoon for Dallas for a full day meeting on Friday. Is it possible that I could make an error related to the day of the week?” Let me quickly say, “If you are having a tough time coming up with the answer to that question, you are in worse shape than I am. I just told you the answer. Of course I messed up. Perhaps you need to pay closer attention.” In fact, I can hear the General orchestrating those same words to me. Even my boss might take up that mantra. “Am I coming unglued or am I already there?”

Before you make you’re final and last answer to the question, let me provide you more information related to my lapse in judgment related to orientation of time and place. It was short-sleeve shirt weather over the weekend. It felt like spring. The same was true for Monday even though I wore a long sleeve shirt and sports coat to work. After all, I had a board meeting.

With some degree of puzzlement, I didn’t wear a sports coat to my board meeting yesterday. I can justify that by saying the venue for yesterday’s board meeting was more “laid back”. I didn’t wear a coat, but I wish I had. It was too cool for comfort.

If you’ll pardon the expression, “It was down-right cold last night.” The wind was blowing 90-miles an hour (exaggeration). And all this time, I thought Chicago was the windy city. Could I be disoriented? Am I in Chicago or am I in Houston? I am of the opinion I spent last night in Houston and I’m in Houston this morning. Consequently, this morning I’d suggest that I am not cognitively impaired.

Last night at dinner, I was arguing the other side. Of course I was cognitively impaired. I left home without a coat. It is February. This is the dead of winter. What was I thinking? I know, I know, I can go either way on the outcome of the cognitive ability question.

Perhaps the final straw that broke the camel’s back was the realization that I opted to have dinner at the hotel bar last night rather than go out to any number of good restaurants because it was too cold outside. In my defense, I went to the restaurant located in my 4-Star Hotel and there was signage that foodservice was available in the bar. The restaurant was closed.

I concluded my dinner conversation last night with the commitment that if I ever eat in a restaurant bar again, it will be because I mistakenly thought it was the Dew Drop Inn and I had tarried too long under it’s influence. You’d have to be inebriated to enjoy the food I was served last night. Either that or I’m not a big fan of Bbq beef brisket tacos.

All My Best!




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