Archive for the ‘true stories’ Category

On Monday June 18 something despicable happened. On their bus ride home, a group of middle school kids (mainly two boys) ganged up on and harassed 68-year-old bus monitor Karen Klein. They said things that would make most parents cringe if they knew their children were saying them. They threatened her. They taunted her. Someone recorded it with a cell phone video camera and posted it to YouTube.

On the following Tuesday and Wednesday, something amazing happened. The video went viral, which in and of itself is not amazing with how connected the world is these days, no- the amazing part was the outpouring of support for Karen and the generosity shown to her by complete strangers the world over.

This story is riveting. Here are ten things you may or may not know about this fascinating chain of events:

People from all over the world have recorded video responses.

Students and adults from Europe, Australia, and many more places have recorded their own video responses to the original bus monitor video. Click here to see some, there are 289 responses and counting.

There is a petition on change.org calling for punishment for the kids responsible.

Right now there are 570 signatures with a goal of 1000. I’m not sure what this would accomplish, but it certainly shows that the public wants to see these kids pay for what they did.

Someone started a fund on indiegogo to raise money to “send Karen on vacation”.

Max Sidorov, originally from Ukraine, says that when he heard of what happened to Karen he decided to create a fundraiser to “show her the power of the internets and how kind and generous people can be”. He set a goal of $5,000, with the intention of giving the bus monitor a vacation. The goal was achieved within hours, and as of now (with 30 days still to go) the fund sits at $150,000, clearly on pace to reach $1 million.

When you set up an indiegogo fundraiser, they typically run for a 30 day window. If the project hits its financial goal, all of the supporters who pledged funds are charged at that time and the money is deposited in an account specified by the administrator. At that time, the money is under Max’s control. No word yet on Karen’s response to this fundraiser.

MSNBC and The L.A. Times have picked up the story.

National outlets have run this story, but not just the part about the bus incident. They are reporting on the fundraiser, which is serving to help garner global support for it. If Karen accepts the funds raised for her, she can retire, which brings me to my next point – which is purely speculation:

Karen won’t accept the funds.

At one point in the video, which I still haven’t gotten through (it’s gut wrenching)- Karen responds to the children by saying she tries to live by the saying on her purse, but it’s hard sometimes. We as viewers can’t see what the saying is, but we’ve got to assume it is some inspirational “live and let live” type of positive message. Just from her general demeanor, her responses to the kids, and her brief appearances on local news since the incident, she seems like the type of person that does not relish all of this attention, and just wants it all to go away. My guess is she rejects the money, and then eventually agrees to accept but donates a large portion to charity.

I wasn’t aware that ‘bus monitors’ were even a thing.

Karen was a bus driver for most of her Greece School District career. Three years ago she became a bus monitor. This is something we did not have when we were kids. Knowing from personal experience that school districts are not in the practice of creating unnecessary jobs, there must have been a need for this position. What could a bus monitor be needed for? To watch for and discipline misbehaving children.

Karen Klein should not have been on that bus.

It was truly a shame what happened to Karen on Monday. It makes me sick. I just don’t think she should have been there in the first place. I’m not trying to take a paid position away from this woman, but sometimes you have to make sure the person is qualified to do the job. If I’m on a commercial airline, the last thing I want is an air marshall on my flight who is afraid of confrontation. These people are not just decorations, they are supposedly there for a reason. Karen never tried to defend herself or tell these kids to shut up. We are hailing this as angelic patience and saintly behavior, but no one who has watched that video would have blamed her if she snapped on those kids. As fun as that may have been to watch, I’m not condoning it, but she really could have just informed them of the consequences of their actions, told the bus driver, or told them to stop it. If she’s being paid to maintain order on the bus, surely she must have a few proverbial bullets in her gun. Why she chose not to use any is beyond me.

Someone gave out the offending kids’ names and contact information.

One of the first comments on the original YouTube page where the video was posted contains the names, phone numbers and addresses of the offenders. Since then, there have been so many additional comments posted that the info has slowly been buried, and may have since been deleted, but it was there for most of Wednesday. So many sites and Facebook comments are calling for the offenders information to be released, and it has been right there the whole time.

Greece Central School District has asked YouTube to take the video down.

With as much traffic as it is generating, that’s like asking Kim Kardashian to lay low for a while. I can see why the district wants to minimize the damage from this PR black eye, but it’s not gonna happen.

The police are investigating the video.

Greece Police are questioning four middle school students and will decide if charges will be filed in juvenile court.

Some of the comments that the kids made hit too close to home.

Karen said the comment that hurt the most was when the kids said “you’re so ugly your kid should kill themselves.” Her son took his own life 10 years ago.

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Fish and Chip magnate Arthur Treacher was born on this day in 1894. Arthur would have been a cool 116 years young today, had it not been for a likely diet of fried haddock and potato wedges.

Oh Arthur, how we loved your eateries. My fondest memories from childhood trips to Florida include sitting in those bright yellow and brown booths eating my dinner out of a basket.

Be well Arthur.


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Just a little over a month ago I started this blog (eww!) as a way to share stories and to try my hand at writing. As I type this we are approaching 5,000 views – way beyond what I ever thought this would turn into.

At the outset, my goal was to recruit friends and others to collaborate with me on a content-rich website. For the last few weeks, we have been working on creating a site that can be a one-stop shop for people like us, people like you!

under..scoop..FIRE! is a site for children of the 80s living in today’s world. Updated on a daily basis – content will include nostalgia, survival, technology, games, entertainment, humor and more. We even recorded a podcast, and plan to keep recording at least one a month, featuring different authors and contributors from the site.

The purpose of this message was two-fold:

First and foremost, to thank you again for reading The Upper Deck. As of Monday I will no longer be posting new content here.

…and secondly, to beg you to click over to under..scoop..FIRE! and add it to your favorites!  Click on the subscribe button on the right side to have fresh content delivered daily! We promise not to disappoint. If you don’t laugh with us, feel free to laugh at us.

What are you waiting for?  Check it out!


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My wife is a breakfast person. I am not. She likes to start her day with coffee and some sort of nourishing sustenance. Some fruit, a bowl of cereal, or a bagel are her morning meals of choice. I prefer to tough out the morning on just a beverage and maybe something small to eat, but I typically save my appetite for lunch, a meal with much more possibilities. One morning not too long ago, we decided to start our day the right way, with a stop at Dunkin’ Donuts. Dunkin’ is one of the few places we agree on for breakfast because, well… because of donuts, that’s why. Donuts rule. My wife being more of a bagel connoisseur, ordered her favorite, blueberry. “I’m sorry, we don’t carry blueberry anymore,” the polite employee informed us.

it shouldn't be that hard, folks

“You don’t carry blueberry anymore?” my wife inquired, “as in, like, never going to have them again?”

“Correct,” replied the orange and pink clad harbinger of bad news.

“Wow. So NO Dunkin’ Donuts location will have blueberry anymore?” asked my wife, doing her due diligence.

“Nope,” she confirmed.

Even I was a bit shocked. I hadn’t studied up on bagel demographics lately, but I would have assumed blueberry was at least a top 10 selection everywhere.

The weight of this decision made at the Dunkin’ Donuts corporate level became even more unbearable when my wife learned that our nearest Bruegger’s (a bagel restaurant) had halted blueberry production as well. Their website still lists blueberry as a flavor under bagels, so there is still hope.

A few weeks later, on one of our weekly shopping trips, we were informed by a bakery employee at our favorite neighborhood grocer that Wegmans (the mega-grocery store of western New York and beyond) had stopped producing blueberry bagels. (update: we have since discovered that this particular report is erroneous, however, blueberry has yet to resurface at our location)

“Wow, you know I really thought blueberry was more popular,” I said, “but I guess not if everybody is dropping it.”

I took my query to America’s preferred research tool, the internet. Most lists of “most popular bagel flavors” include blueberry in at least the top 5. Here is an example: New York Bagel Cafe & Deli lists their top four most popular bagels as plain, everything, cinnamon, and blueberry.

So I guess my question is, is blueberry on the Mount Rushmore of bagels? Are the tastes of the American bagel consumer changing?

If you had to pick only four flavors as most representative of the essence of bagels, would blueberry be included?  I say yes, along with plain, everything, and maybe sesame seed? Or wheat? Pumpernickel? Not sure, but blueberry is definitely in. What do you think?

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Ah, damn! Too late. I was going to say DO NOT look at this picture. Ever since I first saw it I’ve been having night terrors.

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“Good evening folks, thank you for dining with us tonight. Now that you’ve been seated, can I get you something to drink while you are looking at the menu?” Words you would expect to hear at a sit-down restaurant, not necessarily a mall food court. Don’t worry, the universe is still in balance. I have yet to run across a mall with a waitstaff of eager servers who are falling over themselves to refill my soda or fetch me another paper cup of ketchup. Mall eating is still do-it-yourself, the way it has always been and always should be. Except for one lady, to whom the accepted rules obviously don’t apply…

A few weekends ago I was at the mall with my wife and two year old. Hungry and downtrodden, we decided to enjoy a mall food court meal to replenish our shopping meters. The particular place we ordered from is one of those establishments that actually takes a few minutes to prepare your food after you order, the food isn’t already ready (I know, classy eh?). The food court was packed. After ordering, I joined my family at a table deep in the center of the people sea. Our pager buzzed, I grabbed the order, we began eating, and boom. No napkins. “No biggie!” I say, as I hop up and navigate the maze of tables one more time to retrieve a stack. But this was no routine napkin run.

After seizing some napkins, I was headed back through the rows of tables toward mine. A woman seated at an end table reached my way and flagged me down. “Hey, did they call my name?” she asked me.

“Ummm…what’s your name?” I replied, caught off gaurd.

“Debra,” she said, “I just couldn’t hear if they called me. Could you go see if my order is up?” she continued.

Still confused, I noticed she had an infant in a car seat with her. I sort of understand that having a small child with you can hamper your ability to perform certain functions, but I wasn’t sure how I factored into this equation.

“Yeah… I’ll be right back” I answered, as I turned back toward the counter, clutching my napkins, and approached an employee. Why is my default setting always ‘nice guy’? Why didn’t I tell this person to get her own damn lunch? I’d gone too far now, there was no turning back.

“Is one of these orders for Debra?” I inquired.

“Yep, this one!” said the peppy employee.

Instinctually, I lifted the tray, feeling it was my duty to see this odd fast-food adventure through to its end. “Well, I guess she’ll need ketchup,” I thought, as I pumped a few squirts into a cup, “and napkins too…Jesus what am I, a waiter? How did I get roped into this quest? I just wanted some napkins!”

As I delivered Debra’s lunch I threw a glance in the direction of my family. I had never missed them so much. They couldn’t see me, or the ordeal I was going through, but what I saw was a wife growing increasingly worried about the whereabouts of her missing husband. “Surely they will be ok”, I thought, “I’m sure someone will get them napkins if I don’t make it through this.”

should have been a simple mission

When I set Debra’s tray down on her table, I thought the strange expedition was behind me. “Can you get me a straw?” she asked.

“Apparently ‘please‘ is a word your tongue finds unpronouncable,” I mumbled to myself.

As I marched back toward the counter to get Debra her straw, I wondered what I had done to anger the mall gods. I grabbed a straw.

“Here you are, have a nice day!” I flung the straw her way and sprinted past her table, afraid she was going to ask for something else.

With my psychologically hazardous and unexpected detour behind me, at long last I reached my own table. I wasn’t sure I’d ever see my loved ones again. My wife greeted me with the expected “Where on earth have you been?”

“Just waiting on Debra,” I said, “somebody had to bring her her lunch.”

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Look around you.  If you can see 10 people from where you are, statistical evidence suggests that at least 4 of them will go through or have already been though a divorce at some point in their lifetime. Here are some depressing stats from divorcerate.org:

According to enrichment journal on the divorce rate in America:
The divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%
The divorce rate in America for second marriage is 60%
The divorce rate in America for third marriage is 73%

Don’t worry, I’m sure these numbers are skewed by the large amount of successful prison marriages that are never reported. Maybe not. Anyway, I highlighted the divorce rate today because last year I went through a tough time in my own life. I fell out of love with my favorite sports team.

I am a rabid Major League Baseball fan. I can just barely remember a time in my childhood before I was into baseball, but I don’t like to think about it. In the early summer of 1987 I was 10 years old, collecting baseball cards and playing little league ball. I loved to organize the baseball cards by team, but I hadn’t really landed on a favorite yet. That’s when Don Mattingly of the New York Yankees revealed his superhuman abilities and hit a home run in 8 consecutive games, tying a Major League record. I remember being in the basement one afternoon during the epic run and my dad yelling down to me, “Mattingly hit another one!!” I was roped in. It all made sense. I had a favorite player to root for and the choice made geographical sense, living in western New York. Team merchandise was readily available at local stores, and this was a huge bonus in pre-internet days.

For 23 years I rooted for the Yankees through thick and thin. The late 80s and early 90s were some tough times (see Claudell Washington, Mell Hall), but then in 1996 the Yanks were back atop the sports world with a World Championship, going on to win 4 World Series titles in 5 seasons from ’96 through 2001. As life marches on and adult responsibilities multiply, our favorite sports teams are always there for us. We may have less time to spend with them, but the love never wanes. The love between a sports fan and their favorite team is largely unconditional. The team may make moves that the fan disapproves of, but these speed bumps in the road of affection are merely that. Sometimes your favorite team or player does something that really pisses you off, and that might earn them some “boos” or a few choice words on Facebook or your social networking outlet of choice, but in most cases that fiery passion just strengthens the bond between fan and team, making you feel even more invested. Rarely does the occasion arise where the unthinkable happens.

In the fall of 2010, I was accompanying my wife on a shopping trip to the local mall. Around 8PM EST, for some reason the notion of professional sports crept into her head and she asked me, “Hey, isn’t the Yankees-Rangers playoff game on right now?”

“Yes, it is,” I replied, “why do you ask?”

“You should have said something! We can leave any time, if I knew that was on I wouldn’t have made you come to the mall!” she reassured me.

“Honestly,” and this was the first time I would say out loud what I had been thinking for a while, “I kinda don’t care about the Yankees anymore.”

“Huh?” she asked.

“Besides Derek Jeter, I don’t really like any of their players, and frankly I’m kinda tired of Jeter too. They just don’t do it for me.” I explained. “It’s not them, it’s me.”

And there it was.  I was back on the market, sports single for the first time in 23 years. I felt so naked and cold. What if someone came up and asked me what my favorite baseball team was? I have no answer. That’s ridiculous, I’ve loved baseball as long as I can remember. I was scared and alone. I had jumped off the Yankee ship at the height of popularity, fresh off of numerous division titles and playoff appearances; the opposite of “bandwagon jumping”. I guess it’s true, we can’t help what the heart wants.

What I did was rare. Dedicated sports fans don’t change their team allegiances. They just don’t. Kids do it, but they change everything. Self respecting adults stick it out through the good times and the bad. But why? Why does a large percentage of the American public blindly support a sports franchise that continually lets them down, or that they feel no personal connection to? Statistics show that almost half of America will get a divorce at some point but when I think of all of the sports fans I know, I struggle to identify any adults who have divorced their favorite sports team. Is it because we don’t sign legally binding “fan contracts”, and we are free to come and go as we please? We rarely exercise the right to walk away, but is it just nice to know we can? Come on, America. Fear of commitment is for 23 year old guys, just like Taco Bell and Axe Body Spray. Let’s reverse this disturbing trend. Go ahead, re-examine those sports team relationships you have. It’s ok if you don’t love them anymore, you can stop pretending. The Yankees and I had it all, but somewhere along the way we lost it; and guess what? I think we’ll both be just fine.

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