Untotaled: Stepping 41 (July 14th, 1967) Needing Change… November 22, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2421)

(Transcript)

It had never happened before.

There was going to be a carnival set up at the Westerville Shopping Center, right across the street from Redman’s Hardware.

Even though that in itself was cool, even cooler was that this cavalcade of amusements was advertising unlimited rides and midway games for five dollars for the whole day.

It was great.

The only trouble was, Randy and I didn’t have five dollars apiece, so I was ready to do my usual small-town plan of giving up and spending my carnival time complaining about missing the parade.

Randy, on the other hand, had an idea.

He went down to our local phone booth, sitting on the north corner of the Town Commons, and stuffed a bunch of Kleenex into the change return, so that when people missed a call or had money coming back their way, it would get caught and would not return to them.

I thought it was the dumbest idea I’d ever heard.

I wasn’t so concerned that it was dishonest as that I didn’t think we would ever get ten dollars out of such an adventure, with the money coming out in increments of ten cents a throw.

But Rand did it anyway, and three days later, when he pulled out the Kleenex, we ended up with a haul of $10.75.

Apparently a very popular phone booth.

We could not have been more giddy. We went to the carnival and had a fabulous time, never once feeling guilty about how we acquired the funds.

No, for me it was four days later.

I was sitting in my mother and father’s loan company, and I peered out the window and saw there was a policeman inspecting the phone booth.

It scared the crap out of me.

I had to do something–not out of guilt over my misstep, but rather, because I didn’t want to go to Juvenile Hall, where I heard they only served partially cooked pot pies.

So when my parents weren’t looking, I snuck into the safe of the loan company and grabbed a roll of dimes. I quietly stepped over to the phone booth, trying to pretend like I was going to make a call, and as calmly as possible, stuffed that whole role of dimes back into the slot, one at a time, to do recompense for my sin.

Once again, it never occurred to me that I stole from my parents to cover my previous thievery.

It was nearly three weeks later, when my uncle gave me five dollars for school supplies, that my conscience finally showed up.

I determined to go to the bank, purchase a roll of dimes and slip them back into the safe, no one the wiser.

Unfortunately, my plan was foiled by the fact that my parents hung around all day long, never giving me the chance to do penance.

I decided to try again the next day, but on the way home I passed by the local five and dime, and they were advertising candy bars–six for 20 cents.

Well, the only 20 cents I had was in the roll of dimes, and I thought, what the hell? What difference would two dimes make?

The next day I forgot to return my dimes to the loan company, but I did stop off at the Dairy Queen to get a hot dog and a coke, which took another seven dimes.

Long story short, within a week I spent all the dimes I had planned to return.

I didn’t feel bad–I felt stupid.

I did make one determination, and that was to never steal from the phone booth again. And when Randy tempted me, I changed the subject and refrained from further iniquity.

From then on, I went on a personal journey in search of my own integrity.

It was ten years later, long after my dad had died.

I was visiting my mother at her home, and I walked up to her and gently placed a roll of dimes into her hand. She looked up at me, quizzically.

I patted her on the shoulder and said, “It’s a really, really long story…”

 

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Bank On It… August 25, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1986)

bankOne of the rituals we actively and faithfully follow in our travels across these United States is to arrive about twenty minutes early to our gigs. The reason for this is quite simple–actually numerous.

First, we get away from that “heated rush” so that our demeanor can be cool, calm and collected.

We also allow for the unexpected, like traffic, or in some of the more rural locations, a reluctant cow or horse crossing the road.

It also gives us a great opportunity to trim down our egos and low-ball our expectations about the evening’s event–whether we will be inundated with audience, awash, sprinkled or barely drizzled.

Normally we find a park, an abandoned building or some out-of-the-way little space to pull in, roll down the windows and chat for those few minutes.

But Wednesday night in Portage I spotted a mailbox in the parking lot of a bank. I was delighted because I had a couple of pieces of correspondence I wanted to drop in. Well, since I was there, I decided to go ahead and park underneath the shade tree in the back of this well-known lending institution.

We were just talking away as Jan took out her oboe case, made sure all the pieces were in the right location and began to soaking her reeds for the evening’s performance.

It was finally time to leave, and I backed our big, black van out and turned toward the exit, only to discover that an orange cone had been placed in the road, with a policeman standing there, peering at me quizzically. I didn’t think much about it and attempted to pass on by, when he ordered me to halt.

I rolled down my window and asked him what I could do to help. He was curious why we had been sitting in the back lot of the bank for so long. It had stirred interest among the employees, who were trying to figure out why a bunch of folks were sitting in this dark vehicle with out-of-state plates, perched in the rear of their establishment just at closing time.

I explained to the policeman about our habit prior to heading off to a performance. He grinned, now realizing there would be no need for a SWAT team or helicopter coverage from above. Actually, he became inquisitive about the nature of our journey and asked for one of our pamphlets so he could check out our websites. He waved us on and we headed off to our destination.

As I pulled out, I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a whole collection of nervous, twenty-something, bank-teller-type individuals, who had obviously been wondering if there was going to be a shoot-out between our gang and the local Portage police.

I don’t know if they were disappointed or not, but I did promise the police officer that in the future, I would certainly avoid using a bank for my peaceful repose.

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