Feb. 21, 2020

BEWARE OF THOSE WHO HAVE NO HEART.

On several occasions I’ve made impulsive decisions that placed me in unbelievable situations and unimaginable places. If life is preplanned or pre-destined (which I’m convinced is the case), then I must consider every incident as a destination—not an accident or a coincidence.

I was Women’s Director at Educational Television, when the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce contacted me about taping an interview with the President and Owner of New York City’s oldest public relations firm, Dudley-Anderson-Yutsy (D-A-Y.) The Chamber had recently hired the firm to promote Little Rock, globally. During my television career I’d interviewed many nervous people but no one as visibly-shaken as Barbara Hunter. The PR President’s teeth were actually clicking together and her body wouldn’t stop jerking. If I couldn’t find a way to put this woman at ease, I’d have no choice but cancel the interview.

Sitting at the counter in the break-room, nibbling on chips and drinking a coke, the two of us engaged in girl-talk. I purposely focused on fun times—believing my guest would lose her stage fright if she focused on the past rather than the present. It didn’t take long for Barbara’s body to stop jerking and for her to regain her composure. After our highly-successful interview ended, Barbara Hunter surprised me with a job offer. She raved about my “calming influence” and my ability to ask her “the right questions.” She believed I would be the perfect spokesperson for one of her major PR accounts-- The National Confectioners Association.

I never made a career decision without talking with my children. We talked and both daughters agreed it was time to move away from Arkansas. They liked the idea of New York City with all its opportunities. I called Barbara Hunter to see if her offer was still open. Several phone conversations later, she invited me to fly to New York City to meet her staff and discuss my role as a spokesperson.

 I made arrangements to fly to New York City and, as expected, my mother “pitched a nasty tantrum.” She used every negative and ugly word imaginable to describe me. In the end, when she learned I’d hired a sitter for my New York City Trip, she demanded my daughters stay with her. Hoping for a little peace, yet still frighteningly-fearful of her, I gave in to her demands. I had no idea how far she would go to seek revenge.

My plane was met by D-A-Y’s uniformed driver who chauffeured me to The Plaza Hotel, my temporary “home away from home.” After spending the next day with Barbara and her staff, I felt encouraged about future plans. Rushing back to my hotel room, I began completing the multiple pages of paperwork—all part of the hiring process. My application needed to be finished by the following day, when Barbara planned to introduce me to officials at the National Confectioners Association.

When my hotel phone rang, I assumed it was a call from Barbara or someone on her staff. Imagine my surprise when the hotel manager asked if I would pay for a collect call from my daughter?!?! A frightened and very-emotional Myra said she and her sister were alone in the parking lot of a motel in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Unknown to me, my mother and father had driven my daughters from Pine Bluff to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to visit relatives. They’d checked into a motel, did some visiting, and somehow—over lunch the next day—my mother started a fight with my daughters. Controlling everyone with another tantrum, my mother drove back to the motel and checked out of their room. She told my daughters not to put anything in the car because she was leaving them behind.  She made it clear that she was driving back to Pine Bluff without them!

Apparently my father tried to reason with her but—true to form—my Mother made “a big scene”— screaming, threatening, and attracting attention. My father couldn’t control her so, hoping to change her mind once they were on the highway, he agreed to get in the car. After standing in the parking lot for several hours, hoping my mother would come back to get them, Myra made the collect call to my hotel.

I asked Myra for the payphone number and told her to stay close. Somehow, I would find help. I’d never felt a stronger sense of urgency; I had to act quickly. I had one relative in Cape Girardeau but it had been years since we’d seen or talked with each other. Placing a phone call to his office, I prayed Joe Buerkle, a distant cousin, was alive and still practicing law in Cape.

Not surprised to hear about “Aunt Rosemond’s” disruptive behavior, Joe promised to drop everything and rescue the girls. After taking them to lunch, Joe called me back to discuss a plan. The only possible solution was for Joe to drive my daughters to the St. Louis Airport—100 miles from Cape Girardeau—and put them on a direct flight to Little Rock. It meant I must cancel the next day’s meeting with Barbara and the Confectioners Association, and grab the next flight to Little Rock.

There was no time to lose; the Flight to Little Rock was scheduled to leave La Guardia Airport in one hour. I must get back to the Little Rock Airport in time to meet my daughters’ flight. I phoned Barbara with a brief summary of the situation, threw everything in my suitcase, and—within ten minutes—was headed to the airport. Like an experienced travel agent, Joe managed to coordinate the airline flights so I arrived at Little Rock’s airport a few minutes before my daughters.

 Because of my mother, I spent nearly three thousand dollars in twenty-four hours on plane tickets, taxicabs, and long distance phone calls. Flying back to Little Rock, I could only think about my mother’s lifetime success in ruining all my opportunities.