Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Playing Hooky

Have you ever played hooky from work or school? I felt like ditching work today. My older brother Neil played hooky for about the first three weeks of first grade. He would take his little sack lunch and with several other kids from the camp, head off to school down the old railroad spur line that ran through Sloss Hollow. But a few hundred yards from the elementary school, Neil peeled off from the crowd and spent those first few weeks of warm September sunshine under the train trestle, fishing in Horse Creek. He thought it was a grand plan. After school, he would fall in with the rest of the kids and walk back home. No problem. He might have spent the entire school year under that trestle had a neighbor who was walking back from Harry Shaws Drug store via the old spur line not spotted him under the bridge. He was sleeping when she saw him down there and she started to crawl down the steep embankment to go check on him to make sure he hadn't been been killed by some kind of wild animal but just then he woke up long enough to fetch a sandwich from his lunch sack.
The neighbor went straight to the house and ratted him out to mother who was washing clothes on a rub board on the back porch.
Now this is before I was born, but I can picture what happened next. Mothers' story and Neils' story varied somewhat. Mother says she walked the mile and a half down the tracks locating a keen hickory on the journey. "I striped his legs just enough to emphasize the importance of attending school," she explained. Neil on the other hand swears that she wore him out with a rose bush.
Now mind you this was long before Dr. Spock wrote the book about the perils of corporal punishment and in those days a parent could lash off a limb of a misbehaving child with a paring knife if the infraction was bad enough. I know for a fact that my brother would have preferred verbal punishment, but I honestly doubt that it would have had the same impact (no pun intended). In fact, I don't think Neil ever missed another day of school in his academic life.
I would not advocate playing hooky for extended periods of time as most bosses take a dim view of people who don't show up for work and most of us are fond of eating. But sometimes when you're fed up with meetings, memos, and conference calls, I think it's OK to play hooky and do something that gives you joy and makes you feel alive.

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