THE GROUCH

I see Mrs. C working nearly every time I go out to the prison to teach a class to the prisoners. I’m guessing she’s in her late 50’s or early 60’s. I don’t know much about her other than she works the gate at the prison. And every time I’ve seen her, it’s always the same. No words, no facial expression and no smile, only hand gestures. If she ever makes eye contact, and that very rarely happens, you can feel her icy stare burning right through you. I believe she could scare anyone from the smallest child or the meanest convict with simple eye contact.

She is always there in all her grouchiness. It’s almost as if an aura of grouchiness surrounds her like dirt surrounded Pigpen from the cartoon Charlie Brown. I’ve always guessed that she’s just unhappy with the world and everything in it. I’ve often thought to myself, “Mrs. C working at the prison is the perfect job for her.”

The very first time I saw her I offered a smile and spoke to her, she didn’t respond. I thought she hadn’t heard me so I repeated myself louder and smiled bigger. She looked up at me with “those eyes” that made me want to look away and motioned for me to “move along.” It made me a little mad at first. I remember thinking “What’s up with this woman?” Since then it has become a personal challenge to get this woman to smile at me. It hasn’t been easy, and I may have bitten off more than I can chew.

She was there this last Monday night when I went out. I walked up to her window with a massive smile on my face and I laid-it-on-thick. “Well, hello Mrs. C. It is wonderful to see you. I hope you’re doing alright, and I hope you have had a GREAT day to day.” It was as if I didn’t even pause between sentences knowing she wasn’t going to respond anyway. She looked up at me with her sharp icy stare, made eye contact and gestured for me to move through the security gate. Another failure.

When class was over Mrs. C was still at the window working. She handed me my driver’s license and I said, “Mrs. C, I hope you have a great night.” Without hesitating and without ever looking up, she very quietly under her breath mumbled, “you too.” I COULD HAVE DANCED A LITTLE JIG RIGHT THERE! Words, she said words to me! I heard them with my own ears. I couldn’t believe it. There was no smile, no eye contact, but there were words for the first time.

That night driving home from the prison I thought about how she’d finally said something in response to me. I knew she’d heard me all those times. I thought about my challenge to get her to smile and how I’m sure she’s loved by someone in this world. I said a little prayer for Mrs. C as I drove home and God reminded me that He loved her.

Who knows, maybe I’m making some head way with Mrs. C. Maybe she’s not unhappy with the world. Maybe, just maybe, she’s not an old grouch. (I still have my doubts.) You know, she did speak two words to me for the first time, but I still haven’t accomplished my goal … an actual smile from her. But hey, I’m headed out there tonight and this might just be the night!

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Article by Trey Morgan

I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast. Read 1182 articles by
25 Comments Post a Comment
  1. john dobbs says:

    LOL I love it. Good going, Trey.

    And I enjoyed listening to your sermon on “Knowing How To Stop” while I was walking this morning. At the end of my mile I was glad to stop. Yes, a wimpy mile…but I’m working on it.

  2. Matt says:

    Trey you gotta go all out, fall or something, physical comedy. that is the quickest way to get grouches to laugh. love ya man.
    FMtWR

  3. Anonymous says:

    Trey, you’re not going to believe this but I think Ms. C also works at my local Wal-Mart! What a coincidence! I promise to start working on her here, too! :)

    Paula

  4. Greg says:

    This is a great story! I can’t wait to hear “the rest of the story” when you and Mrs. C become close friends. I really believe that’s going to happen!

  5. Bob Bliss says:

    Trey, the key is consistency and persistence. When she discovers (or she may have already discovered) that you always do this she will respond. She cannot but help it. Perhaps no one else coming to the prison has taken an interest in her as you have. I do like Matt’s suggestion that you “accidentally” trip as you are approaching her. I would love to have a video camera focusing on her expression if you ever did something like that. Keep up the good work!

  6. lisa says:

    Mrs. C won’t be able to resist you for long, Trey. Keep it up! (How funny that I was reading this post at the same time you left a comment on mine!)

  7. TREY MORGAN says:

    JD – Thanks for the kind words about the podcast.

    Matt & Bob – I’d love to try the tripping thing … but it would be no fun without someone there to see it.

  8. Matt says:

    ok I have got it what you do is before you go you get some of that stuff to black out one of your teeth and put it on one of those nice front teeth. As you begin your approach fall right as you wave, get up and flash her a quick snaggle-tooth smile and then tell her how glad you are to see her but I agree you are gonna have to be consistent this fall may not be your last. or you could have a grouchy staring contest right there you know she is gonna win she has had years of training stick in there trey

  9. NB says:

    This is so funny because I, too, am always trying to make those grouchy people speak back or, at least, give up a grin. It IS such a fun challenge – like a game. Most people just can’t hold out when you’re pouring on the niceness, although I have met my match twice.
    Keep at it. Most times, I’ve found that the grouchiest people are the people who so badly want to connect but they’ve chanced it before and been burned! I have a feeling that Mrs. C will come around if you are willing to give it LOTS of time.
    Looking forward to your updates on Mrs. C!

  10. Neva says:

    I think you should tell her she reminds you of your mother or your aunt or someone, tell her they are deceased and ask if she cares if you call her “momma” or “aunt Mrs. C”
    Now THAT would be funny—and difficult for her to resist–I just know it.

    Peace
    Neva

  11. TREY MORGAN says:

    You guys don’t know this woman … I think she might crawl through the little “talk hole” and beat me with her night-stick if I tried some of the things you guys are suggesting.

  12. NB says:

    Hahahhahahahhahahhahaha!

    Just call her “Auntie CeCe” once and see how it goes.

    Remember: Be a risk-taker. :)

  13. preacherman says:

    Trey,
    I hope you make I get the $100 gift certificate! :-) That’s why I stopped by. Oh, ha, great post as always. :-) LOL. :-)

  14. Anonymous says:

    Gives the woman a night stick!

    Brandon Voss

    ps. shouldn’t talk about others in a negetive light!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Come visit and join COCNET.US!

    Brandon Voss
    admin@cocnet.us

  16. jel says:

    What happen to the picture AWESome picture ya had on here
    i miss it!

    and as for Ms C, just keep smiling, it may take some time, but it will work , before ya know it she will smile back ! :)

  17. dane says:

    You know which Mrs. C I thought you were talking about for a split second??? LOL

    Dane

  18. jel says:

    I thought ya were talking about MS. C from Happy Day! :)

    got to go
    have a great day!

  19. The Preacher's Household: says:

    You know this kind of person is a challenge for me. I have yet to come across one that I haven’t softened eventually. Keep being personable and maybe do that jig next time. Then turn around and tell her she was the reason – yes, I would do it in real life and I know you can too. To see a guy of your height start to do a jig with no music would bring a smile to anyone. Also, maybe you could start passing her candy with your license – like lemon heads or sour skittles.
    Kathy

  20. Anonymous says:

    The comments seem to be a modern day parallel to the parable of the Good Samaritan. You have no idea what hurt has befallen her, but you make light of her disposition as you tiptoe merrily by on the other side. Keep on smiling Trey and you will reach her, but sharing it with the priests and Levites will only entertain them. They will never get it.

  21. Liz Moore says:

    You may be the only person that ever acknowledges her. Your visits are probably the highlight of her week. Even if she isn’t showing it… yet! :) Keep smiling!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous,
    Who spit in your Cheerios?
    Lighten up—all that was said was said in jest to Trey. None of us were recommending he really do those things. We care about souls too, in spite of being “priests and levites.”

  23. Timbra Wiist Owner/Photographer says:

    well, no wonder lea didn’t stand a chance. . . if you want a girl’s attention, you’re apparently not going to give up til you get it. . . i can barely keep up with your blog, but i’m glad to visit it, because unlike many of my friends, there is ALWAYS something new (or five something news) and entertaining, and pointed to read. . . . thanks

  24. Mark says:

    I want to know where you get a picture like that! If I saw that women coming I would cross the street!

  25. TREY MORGAN says:

    I thought the picture fit the post well. :)

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Trey Morgan Here are my thoughts about marriage, family, raising children, humor, faith and the life God intended for us all. I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast.

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