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Story ID:10599
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family Memories
Location:Cobleskill New York USA
Person:Karen and Carlton
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By Fred Wickert

Lois, the Mom works at a group home for mentally retarded and developmentally disabled adults. Shift scheduling is tricky as the residents are at a sheltered work shop program or a Day Program during the day, Monday through Friday except holidays. Because they are home all day on weekends and holidays, staff has to work extra hours.

Lois has two children. The oldest is a girl, Karen who is thirteen years old. Karen wears braces on her teeth. The actual braces are on her lower teeth and they are adjustable. Every two or three days they have to be adjusted with a tiny little screw thing. The upper teeth have a clear plastic retainer strap. I don’t know just what role it plays but it can be removed while eating and sleeping, and it also has to be removed during the adjusting process of the braces on the lower teeth. At all other times it has to be in place on her upper teeth.

The youngest child is a boy, Carlton. He calls Karen a pet name, Sissy meaning sister. Sissy sort of watches over her little brother Carlton, though now as she begins her teens she loses patience with him a little easier than she did before.

Mom had to work extra hours Saturday so she couldn’t spend the time with her kids. The kids were unhappy about this but what could Lois do? She missed being with the kids too, but she had to work. In an attempt to make them feel better she promised to take them Sunday morning to McDonalds for breakfast. That meant a trip to another nearby town because their town had no McDonalds. The town where it was, involved a car ride of eleven miles to get there. That by itself could sometimes be an adventure.

Sunday morning came and the family all got up and dressed and ready to go to Mickey Dee’s. Everything was normal as they went inside and placed their orders. When they got their orders, some of which was in a large paper bag, they went to a table and sat down to enjoy their meal. Karen took a white paper napkin out of the napkin holder in the middle of the table, spread it out on the corner of the table top and removed the retaining strap for her braces. She carefully laid the strap on the napkin.

Later, after the meal had been consumed, Lois made sure they carefully picked up all their trash, placed it inside the paper bag and when they got up to leave they placed the bag containing their trash in the garbage can provided. Then they proceeded to go outside and get in the car to go home.

When they were half way home, Karen let out a loud moaning noise. Then she yelled, “Stop the car! Stop the car. We got to go back!” Lois stopped the car and pulled over to park on the shoulder of the road. She asked what was wrong and why did they have to go back? Karen replied she had lost the strap for her braces.

Carlton said, “Who cares? You don’t need it anyway.” Lois said, “Oh yes she does. That thing costs a lot of money. We are going back to find it.” After the car was turned around and they were on their way back Lois remembered how Karen had carefully laid it on the napkin. She suggested that it must be in the trash with the other stuff they threw in the garbage.

When they arrived back at McDonalds they went inside and to the garbage can. They began rummaging through all the garbage. Carlton recognized their bag from the others in the can and opened it. One by one they opened the wadded up napkins and soon found the clear strap for Karen’s braces. Lois told Karen to put it back on her upper teeth where it belonged.

Karen protested. That bag had been in the garbage, She didn’t want to put anything in her mouth after it had been in the garbage! It might be contaminated! Lois pointed out to her that it had been folded up inside a clean napkin and she had done it herself. The napkin, still folded had been placed inside the bag before it went in the trash. How could it have been contaminated? “Put it in your mouth and let’s go.”

On the way to the car, Carlton asked Karen, “Have you got it in your mouth?

“yes,” Karen answered.

“I hope it’s got a maggot in it!”

(The names in this story have been changed to protect the innocent.)

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