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South Williamsport, PA
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If You Can’t Stand Up, You Can Still Stand Out, Part 1

During my stint as a creative writing instructor at the JV Brown library a few winters ago, I posed a challenging question to my young students. Actually, I gave them a hypothetical story and asked them to write me a follow-up story on where it would all end up. I was curious to not only

During my stint as a creative writing instructor at the JV Brown library a few winters ago, I posed a challenging question to my young students.

Actually, I gave them a hypothetical story and asked them to write me a follow-up story on where it would all end up. I was curious to not only hear their reaction to the story but to see if their thoughts put down on paper would prove to be optimistic or pessimistic.
The story as told to them:

A young man who drove a fancy sports car and was always in a rush stopped at a local bank to do his daily transactions. But only and always at the drive-thru window lane.

One day a new, attractive teller around his age caught his eye as he was putting his envelope into the plastic tube to send back to her in a mighty WHOOSH.

Her voice was soft spoken but sweet, even over the ratty, outdated intercom system. To top things off, she was a natural blonde with baby blue eyes.

Being single, the thought of this vivacious monetary maiden stayed with him the course of the day. And night.

He found himself making “extra” trips to the bank, like the Goodyear blimp hovers over a football field or a major sporting event. He thought about enclosing a personal note along with his deposit or withdraw slip, but couldn’t get up the nerve.

At one visit his major task was to check for any rock, a ring that is, to signify engagement or marriage. None to be seen! Being painfully shy in the social sector but an animal in the business world, he wondered how he could finally break the ice and ask her out.

Weeks went by, but he engaged in friendly conversation with her, trying to find out what he could, piece by piece, about her. College grad? Local gal? Does she like to dance? Is she into cooking? Favorite movie and music? He kept things light and lively, like your favorite yogurt.

Be prepared everyone, as the kicker is about to come…

One day, a rainy one, of course, the drive-thru facilities at the bank were closed for repairs to that terrible teller microphone-to-customer vehicle speaker system. Today, Walter, the young businessman in suit and tie would have to go INTO the bank and deal with Janet, the young teller he has his heart on!

Sure enough, Janet was at a teller’s cubicle, but he waited till she was finished with other patrons. As they say, he stepped up to the plate and tried to deliver a home run.

Yes, there she was, dressed in a colorful flowered dress and hair flowing to one side like a golden waterfall. Her earrings, triangles, stood out. Her lip gloss was — inviting. It was love at first sight, even though that was a month ago!

Upon arriving at the counter, he studied her face, then, as most males do, scanned the rest of her property. She wasn’t sitting on a stool like the other tellers were.

She was relegated to a wheelchair. A flat black one at that.

Walter never realized that Janet was handicapped because in all his visits to the drive-thru he only saw her from the waist up.

Seeing all of her, top to bottom, things raced through his mind. No dancing. No horseback riding. No hikes or bike rides. Special transportation needs. What would his friends and family think of him doting over and perhaps dating a handicapped person?

It’s here where I abruptly stopped the story in its tracks. I told my students that they were going to finish it, whether it is a good ending or a bad one.

Would Walter be wholly influenced by her incapacities (she calls them challenges) and move on to someone who has full use of both legs, or would he still pursue this charming young woman who makes the best of what she has?

I felt this was the most challenging assignment for both student and myself. For them, it involved morals, and ethics, and personal opinion. For me, I could “grade” only on how well written it was. Not if they felt Walter was a jerk if he “abandoned” her. Or reach hero status by embracing her and her disability and ride off into the sunset.

So, two surprises for next week. First, this marks my first two-part story. Never say never, I guess. And secondly, part II will reveal how my students ended this story while being subjected to a world where a handicap, a difference, can have unnecessary consequences.

I hope you tune in, as my fictitious story could really take place at any time at any place. My students had plenty to say, and it may surprise you at their insight.

As mentioned in my title, just because some people can’t stand up physically, doesn’t mean they can’t stand out in other facets of life.

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