They're just bananas - Joel Hall

A lot of things have happened in the last two weeks that have tried my patience.

Last week, a court summons for a speeding ticket I got in September finally showed up in my mailbox. After waiting eight months for the wheels of justice to churn, I had a week and a half to gather up a legal defense.

On top of that, one of the stories I had planned recently fell through miserably, all because the people I was interviewing told me a set of bold-faced lies.

An owner of a local restaurant (who shall remain nameless) called me in the afternoon and said he wanted me to do a story. He asked me how much we charge for stories, and I told him no journalist ever charges his sources for a story.

I asked the man (from the Caribbean) what made his story interesting and he said that he and his wife (from a central-American country) moved to the area seven months ago to start this restaurant.

I thought this could be a nice When-Harry-Met-Sally feature about two immigrants from different parts of the Western Hemisphere doing well in Clayton County. The man proceeded to tell me this story was so wonderful that he couldn't possibly express it over the phone.

Suspicious, but desperate for a story, I made the 20-minute trek to the restaurant in 4 p.m., traffic. Mind you, 4 p.m., is really late in the news cycle and not the time for a story to fall through.

After getting to the restaurant (after the "wife" lied to me about her identity, once over the phone and once again in person), the man comes in and tells me he doesn't want to be in any pictures or mentioned in the story at all, due to "legal issues." He wants me to do a story completely on his "wife."

After explaining to him why you shouldn't lie to reporters you invite to your restaurant to do a feature on your store, he proceeds to tell me his story is book-worthy.

I let him have his novel. I wasn't that desperate. However, it left me with a huge hole in the paper to fill with only a few hours before deadline. With some help and creative juggling, I was, fortunately, able to find a replacement story.

While I hate being lied to, that incident wasn't what irritated me the most this week. The thing that made me want to go on a Godzilla-like rampage was one of my roommates stealing my bananas.

The banana stealing had gone on for quite some time, at least a few months. I usually buy a bunch of bananas every two weeks. At least twice a month, one of those bananas would come up missing.

It's frustrating when you pack your lunch, preparing for a five-day work week with four bananas. During most times, I could let one banana go, but recently, the culprit got greedy and took two.

Any other time, I would let it go, but it was the banana that broke the camel's back. I come home too late to interact with my roommates, so I proceeded to post on the refrigerator a dry, explicative-filled note threatening my roommates not to partake in my daily source of potassium.

A few days later, I purchased another bunch of bananas and I got down to the last two with no sign of pilfering. I felt victorious.

When it came time to buy groceries a few days later, while taking stock of the refrigerator, the mother of one of my roommates appeared and introduced herself. After going back into a room, she returned with a fresh bunch of bananas.

Her son didn't take my bananas, but she enjoyed the dry wit of my note enough to purchase me a fresh bunch.

Moved by her generosity and good humor, I felt like a size-22 heel. Immediately, I took the note off the fridge and put it in the shredder.

While I had a right to be mad about my bananas, her kind gesture made me realize that there's more to life than bananas, because you can always buy some more.

Joel Hall covers government and politics for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at jhall@news-daily.com.