“Are you a resident of Ogden City?”
When the receptionist in the Ogden City municipal building asked me that question I knew I was in trouble.
Lance, who owns rentals in Ogden, asked me to swing by the city building and pick up some carbon monoxide (CO) monitors. City laws require CO monitors in every rental unit and the city has a special program that allows residents to purchase the required monitors at a significantly reduced (less than half)
price. But, of course, things are never as simple as they seem.
Putting on my best face, I said congenially, “No, I live in Roy but we own rental units in Ogden and I need CO monitors for those units.”
“I am sorry. We can only sell to Ogden City residents,” she responded.
“Never mind,” I said with a smile. “I live in Ogden.”
She gave me a tolerant, it-is-the-end-of-the-day-on-a-Friday, sort-of half smile and said, “Then I need to see proof of
“So,” said I, “the city requires me to provide CO monitors for all of my renters but will not allow me to purchase them.”
She said, “You can give the money to your renters and have them buy them. Or you can tell your renters to come buy them, bring you the receipt, and then reimburse them or credit them the money on their next month’s rent.”
She does not know our renters. If we gave them money, it would NEVER make it to the city office building; there are simplytoo many things to spend money on between our rentals and the city building. There are two problems with asking them to go to the city building to buy a monitor with the idea that we will reimburse them: 1) they do not have money available to buy the monitors (refer to reason why giving them the money will not workand 2) they struggle get to the city utility offices to change the water bill to their names. If drinking water is not a powerful enough motivator to get them to the city offices, CO monitors never will be.
I knew what would happen if I asked the renters to do either of the suggested options. Nothing. Nothing, that is, would happen about getting CO monitors into the rental units. What would happen is that some disgruntled renter (one who had not paid rent for a couple months and then got mad at Lance because Lance insisted that some payment be made) would contact the city and complain because we did not provide CO monitors. The city compliance department would nail our butts to the wall and removing the nails would be very unpleasant.
Flustered and flummoxed, I called Lance and explained the situation. I wanted (Oh how I wanted!!!) to rant and rave about the ridiculousness of the situation. For crying out loud Ogden City!! If you are going to hold us responsible for providing CO monitors, then do not prevent us from being responsible!!
But, I bridled my tongue; no ugly words, only ugly thoughts. I tersely explained the situation to Lance on the phone. At the last moment I even said (as I stood in front of the receptionist), “The lady here at the desk is being really nice but she cannot sell me the monitors.” Lance agreed with me that we were up against a (ridiculous) brick wall so, after ending my conversation with Lance, I thanked the lady and left.
Exiting the building, I pondered the situation. I knew that our renters would never make it to the second floor cashier’s office to buy CO monitors. There must be another way……
Idea! Turning around, I headed back to the receptionist, arriving about 4:55 p.m.
“My renters will never make it in here,” I explained again, “If I gave the money to a friend who lives in Ogden, could she come and purchase the monitors for me?”
“If she did not tell me that she was purchasing them for you then I could sell her two,” came the reply.
Two? I need five. I would need three Ogden-residing friends……
“Oh no! I don’t have three friends!” I exclaimed only semi-melodramatically as I envisioned the logistical nightmares involved in finding, funding, and fetching money and monitors from three different people.
Taking pity on me, the receptionist said that I could go to the fire department and explain my situation to them; maybe they could alter the rules for me.
Grateful to be offered a crumb of hope, I said, “Great! The fire department is just across from where I work. I
can slip over during lunch and plead my case. Thank you very much,” I said as I started to leave.
“Where do you work?” she asked.
Ogden Preparatory Academy.
“I am R---------‘s mom.”
Oh my lands! OH MY LANDS!!!!!!!!!!! Never have I been so grateful to have held my tongue. R------ is one of my
students……and he has a sister in 7th grade who will be in my class next year. Oh how grateful I was for the last minute “nice lady” comment that rolled off my tongue. Thank you Jesus for teaching me to “do unto others” as I would have them do unto me and thank you Mom and Dad for teaching me to follow Christ’s teachings.
While I told her how wonderful R-------- is, she found a way for me to get five CO monitors.
The saying “You attract more flies with honey than vinegar”is so true. Of course, I do not have much need for flies but, in this case, it worked for CO monitors and I have a great need for those.
Using “honey” worked with a student’s parent. It also works with students.
Wednesday was Science Fair at Ogden Preparatory Academy. We have been preparing for Science Fair for months and I unequivocally declared that entering the science fair was mandatory for ALL 8th graders. Period. However, as anyone who has dealt with fourteen year olds knows, unequivocal mandates are only always heeded. The fact that science fair makeup 40% of their third term grade just does not matter to some students. They did not pass last quarter and they will not pass this quarter. Who cares?
I care. And, as an educator, I really believe in science fair. I think that using the processes of science to solve a problem is an invaluable life skill. I think that presenting one’s project to compassionate strangers (each science fair participant had talk to three judges) is a priceless preparatory experience for many situations that life will give them. And I know that, after having done the science fair, the students will look back on the experience as a good one. I also know that many of my
students would not participate in science fair simply because I told them to; there had to be some honey involved.
So I found some honey. “All 8th graders who participate in science fair get to go on an all-day fieldtrip with me to the
Natural History Museum of Utah and to Tracy Aviary the day after science fair.” I talked up the field trip, telling how cool the new museum is, how neat it is to see the birds at the Aviary, and I emphasized, repeatedly, that only those who participated in science fair would be eligible to attend the field trip.
Further “honey-ing” my situation, I told the students that museums dread junior high school students because they tend to
abandon their assigned groups and run wild but that I had assured the museum people that my students were different; my students are QUALITY people (a theme I stress) and would behave professionally and responsibly in the museum. I urged the 8th graders to prove me right.
Both “honeys” worked.
Ninety-six percent (all but three) of my eighth graders participated in the science fair.
The first three times we talked about science fair in class, A---- totally shut down. Not only did she refuse to submit a proposal, she would not even speak to me about it. But, in the end, she completed a project, spoke with three judges, and
attended the field trip with her friends.
K--- failed the first two quarters in science; he is not stupid, just apathetic. Calls home, homework recovery, nagging…… nothing seems to motivate him to perform….until“honey”. He put a drop of gasoline in a penny, set it on fire, called it a science fair project, made a presentation board, talked to three judges, and went on the field trip with his friends. His was
likely the poorest excuse of a science fair project I will ever see but he did something and I am pleased with the start.
Ir----- did a science fair experiment at home and was present at school Wednesday but was not present at the fair. I
tracked him down to find out what happened. The hang-up was the presentation board. He wasn’t sure what to put on it and, feeling overwhelmed, had given up. He is a good student and a good kid and I wanted him to have a good experience. So……..I found a board and a helper and bullied him into completing what he had started. His board was thrown together and his data records sketchy (he had to pull them from memory) but he finished, presented to three judges, and went on the field trip.
Wednesday’s science fair was a success as was Thursday’s field trip. The students were truly magnificent; they stayed with their groups, worked on their assignments, were quiet and orderly at lunch, and even pushed their chairs in when they were done.
Perhaps I should put honey on my requisition form for next year’s school supplies…..
Have a great week!
P.S. The remaining lamb is still alive.