Readers of Leslie Southerland’s column will notice a few lines missing at the end. We apologize for that. Here’s her column in full.


By Leslie Southerland
The Mint Hill Times

The best day of my school year was last Thursday. Not only did the school day go well, but I attended our first home wrestling match. I had never attended a high school wrestling match before.
I MAY have attended a professional wrestling event when I was in seventh grade, and I MAY have seen the Nature Boy and Magnum TA wrestle at that event, but that would be too embarrassing to admit. So let’s just say that Thursday night marked my first wrestling event of ANY kind and leave it at that.
Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. Our boys were wrestling the team from another, more established school, so I was afraid we would lose. Boy, was I wrong!
First of all, the opposing team came out to warm up. They looked like they were a gym class. They didn’t appear to be wearing uniforms, and they all had on mismatched t-shirts, sweatshirts and shorts.
Our team came out wearing their sharp-looking warm-ups, and I figured we would at least beat the other team in looks. And our coach, being the enthusiastic guy that he is, had choreographed a whole warm-up routine for our guys to do on the mat to the tune of “Enter Sandman,” accompanied by a strobe light. That part was so cool that I at first thought it was the whole show!
When our boys finally got out there to wrestle, I was really impressed. I stood, with everyone else in the place, screaming my lungs out to cheer our boys on. By the time I left, we had only lost one match so far. And we had won many. Unfortunately, though, I had a seven-year-old boy with me who needed to go to bed, so I scooted out a bit early.
My neighbor, our secretary and the parent of a student at my school, asked if I could run her daughter home. I was pumped—I was on a high from the wrestling event, and I was thinking happy thoughts to myself about how cool it was that my neighbor attended my school and I could do this favor for her. I love the atmosphere of Mint Hill, and this just seemed to me to be one more example of why I live in a small town.
We stopped for gas and chatted on the way home, and then we arrived at my student’s house. She warned me not to drive into the very long driveway—it was hard to navigate backwards, she told me, and there was no room for me to turn around.
Hating to see her have to walk all the way up the driveway in all the wind and the wet, I assured her I would be fine—I live just down the street, and my driveway is a bear, too. I have lots of experience with it.
I carefully backed down the driveway after dropping her off and managed to stay straight the whole way. Her driveway is a bit longer than mine, though, and there was no streetlight to guide my way. So I misjudged a bit when turning the wheel. Unfortunately, I misjudged right into her brick mailbox. Well, it used to be brick.
My son described the impact later as a clunk—I just heard the glass shatter in the back window. I drive a minivan, you see, and the impact point occurred at the top of the mailbox, which is where it was widest. So it hit right below my back window, bending the frame until the glass shattered. And just like that, my awesome day went downhill. Fast.
My son, sitting in the third row, was shaken but unhurt. Luckily, the glass all fell out instead of in. I had to go get my student and tell her that, in spite of my confidence in my ability to navigate her driveway, there had been an issue. It was one of my more embarrassing moments.
A few minutes later, as we surveyed the damage, my neighbor arrived at home. Her mother and mother-in-law were tsk-tsk-ing with me in the driveway, standing in their bathrobes. I turned around and gave my neighbor two thumbs up as her headlights shined on me in the driveway.
I knew she was an understanding person, thank goodness, and she was pretty amused at my handiwork. Her brick mailbox lay in pieces on the ground. I kept apologizing about her mailbox and she kept lamenting over my car. That’s what friends and neighbors do, I guess—they are kind when they know someone else desperately needs that kindness.
Monday night, while I was teaching class, my neighbor stopped by to drop off the estimate for her mailbox. And on her way out of my driveway, she got stuck in the ditch. She and I laughed together about it the next day. And I was glad again that I live in a small town, where I work with my neighbor and she trusts me to drive her daughter home.
We both agreed that if we ever needed to visit one another again, though, we would just walk. It’s definitely cheaper.