Dear Husband, Pollyanna, and a Very Nice Perp

 by M. K. Waller


What I do not like about smart phones:

  1. Seeing people hyperfocused on tiny screens when I know they have better things to do;
  2. Hyperfocusing on people hyperfocused on tiny screens when I know I have better things to do;
  3. Struggling to ignore one side of conversations I wouldn’t even notice if I could hear both sides;
  4. Being greeted in the dairy section of HEB with, “Hello!” and responding with a “Hello!” of my own, and then realizing the Hello-er is talking to someone miles away instead of to me;
  5. And so on and so on.

Why I finally acquired* a smart phone:

  1. I bought a Yoo Fitness bracelet so I could keep track of the number of steps I take each day, and the Yoo requires a Bluetooth thingy to transfer data from bracelet to phone, which archives data and and keeps track of all manner of interesting information, such as which Challenge I’m working on, how many more points I must earn to win the current challenge, and how many points the Old Yoo deducts from the New Yoo because I didn’t meet its inane and unrealistic expectations.
  2.  Other people’s cars keep bumping into mine.

For example–and I’m skipping over the rear-ending incident back in 2014, when the offending driver gave me information that wasn’t quite quite and then disappeared into the mists of East Texas, or somewhere–in 2016, I was driving home from a Sisters in Crime meeting when Something Bad happened.

I was stopped at a red light at the intersection of Ben White and S. Congress Avenue. Two cars were in front of me. The pickup to my left was in the Must-Turn-Left lane. I was in the Turn-Left-or-Go-Straight lane. I planned to turn left.

So. The light turned green. I proceeded into the intersection and turned left, as was proper.

The pickup in the Must-Turn-Left lane, to my left, did not turn left. It just kept a-going.

Well into the turn, I glanced sideways, saw the pickup a-coming, and thought to myself, My goose is cooked. (That’s the family friendly version. I don’t remember my exact thoughts, but chances are it was something like, Oh, hell, the damn driver of that damn pickup is going to total my damn car and me with it, dammit.)

But because we’d been stopped at the light and the Perp hadn’t had time to build up speed, I came out intact.

I somehow continued to turn left, and the Perp decided, belatedly, to do the same. We crossed the bridge and I pulled off at the Chevron station on the corner. He followed and stopped there too, which was smart, because if he hadn’t, I would have pulled back out onto Congress, chased him down, dragged him from the cab, and administered a good, sound clop in the chops.


We exited our vehicles. I thought about Pollyanna and said, “Hi, are you okay?”He said, “Hola.” Complications appeared on the horizon.

He looked about fifteen, and that could have complicated things to the max–because every time a Perp bashes into my car, I feel as if it’s my fault, and when the Perp is just a child . . . It’s not reasonable, but I was born feeling guilty and frequently relapse.

But help was only three blocks away in the person of my Dear Husband, who has an M.A. in Spanish (and a J.D.**). I pulled out my little flip phone, called him, reported the pertinent fact (“The driver’s side door doesn’t look like it did when I left home.”), and said, “Don’t run.” I’d already decided that I would write down the Perp’s info at a rate

Vaster than empires and more slow.***

In other words, that kid wasn’t going anywhere until he’d faced the Man of My Family.

Well. Even though I told him not to run, David ran. He and the Perp, who seemed like a really nice young man, discussed the situation. David learned the Perp didn’t have a drivers license, and that the pickup belonged to his brother or brother-in-law or uncle, or someone, I don’t remember who. The pickup was insured, but the status of the driver was in question.

David called 911. Because he admitted no one was hurt, we spent more than three hours waiting for a policeman.

I sat in the car. I stood beside the car. I leaned against the car. I went into the store and bought us all pretzels and Cokes and bottled water and a variety of other comestibles.***

But–because I’d been to a Sisters in Crime meeting, I had my camera. I proudly produced it. David took shots of our car and the Perp’s pickup (which was in amazingly good condition).

Then I wandered around the parking lot, taking pictures and pinning down memories.



Here’s where the smart phone comes in. Traditional cameras are heavy and cumbersome. I don’t carry one with me all the time. Smart phone cameras are light and easy to handle. They fit comfortably in a purse. They’re also sneaky; you can gather all manner of evidence without your subjects knowing you’re up to no good.

A policeman finally arrived, I told my story, I guess the Perp told his story, and that was that. David asked if the Perp would get a ticket. The officer said, “Ohhhhh, yeah.”

Another wave of guilt washed over me. He was really a very nice Perp.


* I didn’t buy the phone. David volunteered the one he abandoned several years ago because he didn’t see the point. If he ever gets his own Yoo Fitness bracelet, I’ll have to give the phone back to him, but that will be when pigs fly.

** Juris Doctor. The criminal kind. He hasn’t practiced for more than twenty years, but it comforts me to know I have something more than my English-teacher glare to fall back on.

*** Andrew Marvell. “To His Coy Mistress.” A magnificent poem about love and time and seizing the day.

Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
       But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long-preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust;
The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
       Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

10 thoughts on “Dear Husband, Pollyanna, and a Very Nice Perp

  1. I’m with you all the way, here. Sorry the guy who hit you was a kid, but maybe, just maybe, he’ll grow into a better adult because of this than he would have. Feel free to parse that sentence.


  2. Enjoyed this very much! Glad there were no personal injuries – it would be interesting to find out what happened to this young man – sounds like the start of a very interesting mystery!


    1. I hadn’t thought about turning it into a mystery. The rear-ending in 2014 would make a better story, though. Assumed name, assumed drivers license . . . I would have a lot of blanks to fill in.


  3. I’ve yet to get a smart phone. Still using a dumbed-down one I purchased back in 2012. It’s got a camera and the ability to text, and that’s about it. Nowadays, when I go to book signings I find that folks want to buy using their credit cards It seems no one writes checks anymore. I hate the idea of getting a Smart Phone and a card slider for the phone, and then subscribe to a credit card company. Seems awful cumbersome than just writing a check. At the bookstore that does book signings, folks that buy my books pay for them up at the desk, and then the owner reimburses me.


    1. You mean phones have card sliders? Good grief. My husband and I had a table at a convention last spring–a man looked at one of my books (which I was selling for a convenient $10) and said, “Do you have change for a twenty?” Change? I needed change? It had never occurred to me anyone would buy a book, much less need change. Fortunately, my husband volunteered a ten dollar bill. I’m still using the little dumb phone to communicate but have to re-learn texting every time I have to send one. Technology is a lot of trouble.


  4. I have a smart phone, which sometimes smarts off to me by typing text i didn’t say. Yesterday I know I said “two roasts” and it typed a colon roast. Now who would want to roast a colon? And once I said it was stupid, and it typed “this phone is cool.” I swear (which it also does in long texts by putting a bunch of little symbols in the conversation all on its own), that it is possessed. Interesting and varied blog! You have a creative mind.


    1. Colon roast. That sounds about par for the course. I got mad at the phone and referred in an email to the “damn phone,” but it changed “damn” to “dark.” I went back and fixed it, but this time it came out “dank.” The lesson, I suppose, is that I should give up the d-word. Then a little box came up and said, “How can I help you?” I said, “GO AWAY.” Days later, the phone suddenly started saying, “Go away,” in a deep and ominous tone. Scary. I’m glad you liked the post. I just write what I know.


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