The Problem With Wikipedia

Once while I was talking about researching stuff for my novels, I told one of my author friends, Jon Lewis, that my editor made me find a native Italian speaker to look over the Italian phrases I put in How To Take The Ex Out Of Ex-boyfriend. Jon laughed a lot about that. He said one day he was going to write a book on research called: Wikipedia, It’s Close Enough to the Truth
For Me.

And granted, he may have a point. You can find anything on Wikipedia. I had to learn some stuff about martial arts and–bam–Wikipedia has the history of, origins of and names of dozens of different types.

I was marveling about this to middle daughter. “I don’t know who spends the time to write all of this stuff,” I said. “I haven’t even bothered to write the page about me.”

“There’s a page about you?” she asked.

“Yep,” I said. “I have no idea who wrote it, but it lists all of my books.” To prove the point I typed my name into the search engine. It gave the basic boring information about me and then said, She lives with her husband and five children one of which is named Gaston. In “Just one wish” it is comically and truthfully stated that Gaston is believed to be the coolest.

Hmm, apparently Gaston’s friends know how to edit Wikipedia and are adding their own opinions.

See, that’s the problem with Wikipedia.

In which I terrorize the office staff of my son’s school

I blame it on revisions. When you’re working nonstop for a month on rewriting your novel for the third time, you get testy. I’d told the bow-tied one that I’d have the manuscript to him today, which means that in the last week I showered approximately twice.

So I wasn’t happy yesterday when son number 1, code name Gaston, called and told me he forgot his tennis shoes. He asked if I could bring them so he could participate in football practice. I nearly told him, “Forget it. Just skip practice and come home with the rest of the carpool.”

I didn’t want to take forty minutes out of my work day (twenty minutes there, twenty minutes back) to bring them to him. The deadline was looming and I still had quite a few of the bow-tied ones 407 comments to go through. Instead, I gave myself a pep talk about being a good mother (see last blog) and told him I’d try to get them to him. First I called around to the other carpool mothers in the neighborhood to see if they could bring up Gaston’s shoes when they picked up the other kids. Four phone calls later I found out that carpool turn fell to one of the fathers, who picked up the kids on his way home from work. So that wouldn’t work.

I got in the car, unshowered and covered in cat hair. (One of the cats feels it’s her duty to lie on my chest while I write.)I brought the shoes to the school’s front desk, explained the situation, and asked if they could give them to Gaston.

Imagine my surprise when Gaston came home with the carpool kids instead of staying for football practice. “What the heck are you doing home after I spent forty minutes to bring you your shoes!” I said lovingly. Because that is the type of mother I am. (see last blog)

“You didn’t bring me my shoes,” Gaston said.

“I gave them to the front office and they said they’d give them to you,” I said.

“They didn’t,” he said.

I called the school and left a message for the front desk. Which is probably something I shouldn’t do—leave messages when I’m angry. When you do that, you have to worry that your message is being endlessly replayed while people mimic you and do gargoyle impersonations. Not that I’m saying the office staff did this. But just, you know.

Anyway, the secretary called me this morning and apologized. She said she had called Gaston’s teacher and told him to send Gaston up to get his shoes. Apparently the teacher hadn’t passed along the message.

“Didn’t you notice that he never picked up his shoes?” I asked. Gaston doesn’t have small feet. He wears a size twelve.

“Yes,” she said. “So we sent his shoes to football practice with one of the other mothers.”

Which would have been nice if Gaston had gone to football practice, but he hadn’t because he had no shoes.

I pointed that out to the secretary, and then we hung up. That was the phone call.

Today when my husband came home he said, “I think the office staff is afraid of you now.”

“Why do you say that?” I asked. I had sent off my manuscript, showered, cleaned the downstairs, went to the grocery store to pick up frosting, baked a cake, and taken seven junior high kids to the movies for a party. I was back to loving mother mode. (See last blog.)

“The school didn’t know what happened to Gaston’s shoes after they were sent to football practice,” my husband said, “so they went out and bought him new ones.”


Now I feel terrible. I suppose the office staff thought after I called to complain because I had to drive forty minutes to deliver the shoes and they didn’t give them to him, there was no way they were calling me to break the news that Gaston once again didn’t have shoes for football practice, and they didn’t know what had happened to them.

“The whole school knows about it,” Gaston told me with irritation. “The football coach came up to me and asked me what the shoe problem was.”

Turns out one of the football carpool kids had taken them home last night and he’d forgotten to bring them back to school today.

We have them back now, along with new shoes that the office lady bought. I really do feel bad about it. I told Gaston to ask the secretary how much they cost so I can repay her.

On the bright side, probably no one at that school will ask me to volunteer for the PTO.