The weather was mild and sunny and the pavement was dry. It was the mid-80’s and me and my co-teacher Donna, were on the road in a community-college van filled with anxious young women. We were leaving Memphis and headed to Little Rock, Arkansas for an education conference.
Donna drove and I was her co-pilot and the young women on board were excited, but calm. As their instructors, we would have it no other way. The road trip took approximately two hours and it was a seamless trip. I found it interesting that Donna straddled the lanes as she drove but I didn’t say anything because we basically had the highway to ourselves.
We arrived in Little Rock and checked in at the sparkling, new Excelsior Hotel which had recently opened in the downtown area. It was my first and only trip to Little Rock so I took in every detail about this capital city. We unloaded the van, approached the beautiful hotel, entered and headed towards the check-in desk.
And poof! The unthinkable happened in a flash. A very handsome, suave man approached the young women smiling and in a matter of minutes, one of them left with him. Just like that and before one could say, “Lickety-split.” That’s a pun because she had split- with him.
Donna and I were stymied but we had to get our bearings and take care of the business at hand. After clearing our thoughts, we checked in and got the other young women settled in their rooms. As the shock wore off, we did not know if we should go to the police, the morgue or what. This was long before the advent of cell phones so we had no way of tracking her down.
We went on with the plans and I don’t remember a lot about the conference sessions because we all had this looming plague hanging over us regarding the missing student. I do remember that the beauty and ambience of the hotel was both calming and comforting as we tried to make certain that the others had a good time.
One night, some of them ventured out and had some scary encounter. They had walked to McDonald’s to get some of the new bacon, sausage sandwiches which had recently come out. They knocked on our door like little scared rabbits, came in and filled us in on what happened. They wanted to stay in our room for a while. Thank goodness, nothing grave had occurred so we laughed as we executed our duties as chaperones. Of course, the missing student was on everyone’s mind though we all pretended that we were all fine.
On the last day of the conference, the missing student showed up grinning. I am sure that Donna read her the riot act, but I did not even look at her. She looked insane to me so I privately decided that she was ‘not playing with a full deck’, ‘ paddling with one oar’ or ‘her elevator did not go to the top.‘ All of that street lingo applied to her. Today, she would be called ‘cra-cra.’
We let her in the van and I am sure no one talked to her as we headed back to the Bluff City (Memphis). We were just blessed that we did not have to go to the police department, the morgue nor console her distraught family members. When I recall that experience now, I just smh (shake my head) and thank the protecting angels who had us all covered!
May 7, 2022