My Faith in Humanity is Restored!

I don't know about you, but the last month or so has been rough. Like, really rough. Like, so rough that I'm not sleeping well, I'm worried all the time, and I can't seem to get happy. Every time I turn on the TV or open my laptop or phone there is more bad news. It can be soul-crushing.

I know I'm not the only one feeling this way and that's why I wanted to write this and share with you the most amazing stories from the last week or so that have restored my faith in humanity.

OK, so I'll start at the beginning.

Adolpha went away for the weekend with my mom and dad and she took a bunch of stuffed animals with her. I don't normally let so many of her furry friends go out the door, but frankly, I was exhausted (see the first paragraph re: stressed out) and I didn't feel like arguing with her. So, off they went. When she returned on Sunday she was frantic because one of her animals was missing. A very small turtle named Shelly. We looked through all her bags and couldn't find Shelly. We called my parents hoping that Shelly had stowed away in their suitcase, but no luck. I called the hotel and Shelly had not been turned in. We had a long talk about how this is what happens when you don't keep track of your important things, blah blah blah. Sure, there were some tears, but nothing major and I thought we were all done.

Cut to a few weeks later and Adolpha is watching "Toy Story 3." She's at the part where the toys are headed for the incinerator and she freaks the freak out. Like INSANITY freak out. Can't go to bed, can't settle down, won't stop crying. She keeps wailing that Shelly is in the fire. I'd completely forgotten about Shelly and I couldn't believe she was bringing her up again. I got kind of exasperated with her and snapped at her and that's when she cried, "My stuffed animals are like my children! How would you feel if you'd lost Gomer?"

I replied, "I'd never lose Gomer, because I love him enough to keep track of him."

Well! That went over about as good as you'd think it would. Drama, drama, drama! (Side note, I can't WAIT until she's going through puberty because her mood swings are sooooo much fun!)

I finally got her to bed and the Hubs was like, "What gives?"

So I filled him in on the missing Shelly, etc.

The Hubs was like, "For goodness sake, it's a four dollar stuffed animal. Let's just call the zoo and order her another one and make our house quiet again."

The next morning I called the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. I spoke to a very nice woman in the gift shop. I explained that we were there in August and they were selling these tiny animals. If you bought more than one you got a price break, so Adolpha bought four. I told the lady I just needed the turtle. She replied, "Let's see, I've got the squid."

"Yes, we have him. He's called Squidy."

"OK, I've got the shark."

"Got him. Sharky."

"And looks like we've got an otter."

"Yup. I can't remember his name. Probably Ottery. I just need the turtle."

"I'm sorry, but we're sold out of the turtle."

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I couldn't believe it. What were the odds that they'd have all the others but no turtle? (Probably pretty high, since I doubt anyone's like, "Oooh, sweetie, how about a cuddly squid?")

Well, I was ready to have the conversation with her about your actions have consequences, etc. etc. etc. when all of a sudden the Hubs' heart grew three sizes too big and he announced that he would find that turtle and make his baby girl happy!

What???? Who was this man?

Because, if you know the Hubs at all, you know that this is not normal behavior. I'm the nice one around here. I had no idea what was going on, however I wasn't going to stand in his way if he wanted to be a hero. He grabbed the phone and started calling zoos and aquariums around the country describing Shelly to them and hoping they stocked a tiny turtle. When he came up with nothing, he got online and started down the Google rabbit hole and finally found the company that makes and distributes Shelly. He called them up and had a lengthy conversation about a plush turtle only to have his hopes and dreams dashed when the man on the other end of the line said, "Yeah, I'm pretty sure that we discontinued this guy."


I don't know who was more devastated at that point, the Hubs or Adolpha. That's when I took to the internet. I wasn't trying to solve their problem. It was really about me. You see, I've always been a person who feels much better after I vent my frustrations to the world. I need someone to pat me and tell me it will be all right or else it will never be all right. I got on FB and I poured out the whole story about Shelly's disappearance and subsequent discontinuation. I felt better and I was ready to move on, but then a friend said, "Post a picture of Shelly here. I bet we can find one!"

I figured, Why not? I doubt it will happen, but at least Adolpha will think I tried everything I could.

So I posted the picture from the website and described Shelly and let the internet do its thing. Imagine my surprise when people started sharing my update and the picture and I was getting messages from all over the US. "Hi, we have a turtle, she's not the one you're looking for. She's 6 inches long and pink, but I'd be happy to send it you if it would make Adolpha happier." "Hi, I live near the XYZ Aquarium and I'll head over there tomorrow after work to see if they've got a Shelly in their gift shop." "Hi, I'm pretty sure we've got a Shelly at the bottom of our toy bins. Give me a day or so to dig her out and you can have her!"

It was nuts! Adolpha was shocked that so many people were willing to help her find her stuffed animal. (She was also a little horrified that people were so casually willing to part with their own stuffed animals, because, remember those are like children to her.)

About two days into the search, I received a message from a friend who was friends with a man who volunteers at the Henry Doorly Zoo. She had reached out to him and he'd gone digging through all of the gift shop shelves and he'd scrounged up what sounded like Shelly!! I offered to pay him for the toy and shipping, but he replied that he was happy to help bring a smile to my daughter's face. Can you believe it?! (Needless to say, Adolpha is making a donation to the Omaha Zoo in this gentleman's honor. Thank you, sir!)

A few days later, Shelly arrived in the mail. I didn't tell Adolpha Shelly was coming, because you never know what will happen and I couldn't handle the drama if the post office lost her or something, so she was shocked when she went with me to my mail box and found a package for her. She was ELATED to find Shelly II (that's pronounced Shelly the Second) in a tiny box.

Shelly has slept in a place of honor every night (in a box beside the bed so she won't be lost) and she's made Adolpha so happy. BUT THEN, as if this story couldn't get any better. I went to my mail box again yesterday and found yet another Shelly. A friend of a friend had found a Shelly in her house. When she offered to send it to me, I let her know that we had one on the way from the zoo. She said her child had outgrown the toy and they'd like Adolpha to raise Shelly now. So we've got Shelly III who slept in the tiny box with her sister Shelly II last night.

This is why a few days later I knew I had to take action when I read a post by my friend, Kristen. She wrote about her son's birthday party. You can read it here. Basically, she threw a party and no one RSVP'd and no one came. Devastating, right??!! Sure, a few things could have been handled a bit differently, but the point of Kristen's post was, Please RSVP so we know what to expect. Her son was very sad when no one showed up or called and Kristen was too. She'd gone to a lot of work to plan a Diary of a Wimpy Kid-themed birthday party. The post resonated with a ton of people and she had many, many, many requests for her address so that they could send her son a birthday card or a little gift. This got me thinking. The internet had really come through for my kid, why couldn't they do that again? I tweeted Jeff Kinney (the author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid) a link to Kristen's post and a plea that he send her son a birthday card. I wasn't looking for much. Just his signature on a plain, old card. Maybe he could draw a Greg on there. Then I asked my Facebook friends to tweet him too. I figured if enough of us did it, he couldn't ignore us. A friend of mine (and Kristen) saw the hoopla and she used her connections to reach Jeff Kinney! She told him the story and asked if he might send a birthday card.

Jeff Kinney said No.

He said, "Let's FaceTime instead!" And then he did!!!!! He FaceTimed with Kristen's son and he did some really cool amazing stuff too that Kristen hasn't written about yet, so I'll let her be the one to tell you, but let's just say: SO MUCH BETTER THAN A STINKING CARD.

And then I was filled with happiness. I saw Kristen's post everywhere and so did a lot of people. I had my friends reach out to to me to offer her family cards and movie tickets and such. I was like, "YES! The internet isn't just for trolls and assholes. There are tons of awesome people out there and I'm glad I know them even if I don't really know-know them in real life, I feel like I know them and they're amazing!"

And THEN if the internet couldn't get any better. My friend, Tara (are you sensing a theme here that I have amazeball friends), and her daughter went grocery shopping and they met a stranger. Her four-year-old daughter said, "Hi, old person" to an elderly gentleman passing by and announced it was her "birfday." She quickly befriended the 80-something-year-old man and requested a picture. He was pleasantly surprised and he agreed. Tara posted the picture on her Facebook page and told the short story of how the two met and someone recognized the man. They told Tara that he was a widower and he was alone a lot. He's been sad and depressed since his wife passed away in March. Tara decided that she and her daughter needed to visit him again, and so they did! After that, the rest, as they say, was history! An unlikely friendship has sprung up between these two. Now they visit him EVERY WEEK! Their story has been shared all over the planet. I dare you to read this story and NOT shed a tear. 

And so, now you see why my faith in humanity has been restored. This has been a long and trying few weeks. They have been filled with anxiety and fear and hate, but there are glimpses of hope and love if you look for them.

The internet is an amazing place where it gives everyone a voice. I am so grateful to the internet and what it has done for me. It's introduced me to all of YOU and I'm so glad, because you guys make me feel like I'm not alone (or crazy). I thank all of you internet people for making my kid happy and Kristen's kid happy. I thank the internet for introducing me to Tara so that her daughter could make me happy.

Psst ... the reason I know Kristen and Tara is because they are both contributors to my anthologies. If you'd like to read their stories, you can find all of the books right here.

1 comment:

RainbowChazer's Reviews said...

I can see why your faith in humanity may be restored.

Please tell Adolpha that I also have stuffed animals (in my case polar bears) who are my furkids. I'm a great deal older than her but I understand her need for a Shelly. And I'm so glad she now has two ;-) The only thing better than one favorite stuffed animal is TWO favorite stuffed animals, after all.

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