Hello? Runaway Hotline

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I didn’t much like the friends Doug had in Minnesota. To be honest, I didn’t like Minnesota. It was freezing cold, dirty snow outlined the streets , my throat was sore and to top it off as if it was a cherry or something, I was homesick. I was lonely  here in this God-forsaken land. Oh, and I was running out of seizure medication. I had been diagnosed with Epilepsy at the tender age of 10- a time when a kid should be footloose and fancy-free. They were not grand mal seizures or “fits” as some called them. Just little staring spells. No one would know I had it unless I told them. Those little “spells” as we called them only lasted about ten or twenty seconds. The only evidence something was awry might be if I was in the middle of a sentence when I had “the spell.”  If that were the case, I might slur the word I was about to say or forget what I was talking about all together.I had never missed any scheduled doses of medication because my mother always made sure I had some on hand. Indeed, I had taken my medicine with me, but didn’t think about the fact that sooner or later, I would run out. I decided I should call home. I wanted to hear my mother and father’s voices anyway, even though I knew they would be mad at me. I had watched enough television dramas to know that calls could be traced and I didn’t want them to know where I was yet. I set out to find the nearest phone booth.

“Hello? Runaway Hotline, how can I help you?”  

The voice on the phone seemed so nice and helpful. I had seen public service announcements  (PSA’s) on tv about them and decided that was how I would contact my parents. A runaway could call 1-800-RUNAWAY if they needed help of any kind or just wanted to get word to their parents they were ok. 

“Hi, I’ve runaway from home.”

“Are you ok? Safe?

“Yes Ma’am”

She began to explain the way the program worked. She told me if I would like to get a message to my parents to let them know I was ok, I could just give her their phone number, she would call them and let them know I had called the hotline and  was ok. I agreed and gave her their number. I was then to call the next day and see if they had a message for me from them.I thanked her, grateful for this service and their PSA’s. More than that, I was grateful that I had paid attention to them.

I went home that night, happy to know I might get a message from my parents tomorrow. I was tired and ready for bed. It was such a cold night and I was thankful for a warm bed to sleep in.

Out of money now, Doug went looking for a job. It was a good thing we were staying  with friends since they fed us and seemed to be really happy to see him. I must have been bored during the day – it’s been a good forty years since this adventure and my memory has faded. I felt like a duck out of water, I know that. 

Each time we got gas, back in those days, we were given saving stamps. Back home it was S&H Green Stamps we got.. at the grocery store- not the gas station. Here, in Minnesota, the stamps were redeemable only at the gas station’s store. So, we redeemed the stamps for food, drinks, candy and anything else we might need. We lived this way for a bit until Douglas got a job at some kind of steel factory , boat factory or some such place. I know at one time he worked in a boat factory as I remember he would come home with fiberglass stuck in his arms and hands. That may have been his first job- I remember it was painful to have fiberglass in his body and he didn’t work there long. By this time, we were staying in Woodbury.

 

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