Signs of the times – Empty Nest, by Curt Swarm


Like a precursor to the evening, there was a rather rude outburst at the political rally Ginnie and I were attending. A very belligerent and loud protester had to be ejected. I’ve never witnessed this at a political rally, and it was rather scary. My first thought was there might be gun violence. There wasn’t. However, the outburst was disruptive as well as disrespectful to the attendees and politician, as it was intended to be. The politician handled it well, like he was accustomed to outbursts such as this. Sign of the times.
After the rally, Ginnie and I grabbed some supper at a local restaurant, and then headed home. Driving down a main thoroughfare in Mt. Peasant we observed an even more frightening sight. A man had a woman down on the sidewalk and was beating her up. The woman was curled in a fetal position, and the man was wailing on her with his fists.
I pulled over, put on the four-way flashers and instructed Ginnie to dial 911. I ran to the scene of the altercation. There were other people stopping and doing the same thing. The assaulter scurried to the porch of a house, while some people were attempting to give aid to the woman. They moved her across the street, out of harm’s way. The assaulter on the porch was hollering, “Tell her I’m sorry!”
A woman who was attempting to help hollered back at him, “If she doesn’t press charges, I will!” The scene was total chaos.
Sheriff’s deputies and Mt. Pleasant police arrived. They took down information from us and other bystanders, and indicated that they thought they knew who the man and woman were. The police then went to “apprehend” the assaulter. We were free to go home.
I have heard about violence toward women, but had never witnessed it so dramatically. It was an eye-opening experience and caused me to have bad dreams that night.
I paid close attention to the local news for the next few days, but never heard or read anymore about it. Obviously there wasn’t a standoff between police and attacker.
The next day I was at a supermarket buying groceries. As a treat to myself and Ginnie, I purchased some chocolate mousse treats. Out in the parking lot I couldn’t resist, and tore into one of the desserts. I was parked right beside a huge semi tractor. I happened to look up, and there was a little minority boy in the window of the semi tractor looking at me. I waved at him and he waved back. I could see his mother in the cab of this semi tractor cleaning the interior. The cab and sleeper of the semi tractor were huge, about the size of a motel room on wheels. I found another one of the chocolate mousse treats and held it out the window toward the little boy. He smiled, and shook his head like he wanted it. I exited my car, and approached the semi tractor. The mother buzzed down the window and accepted the treat graciously for the little boy. “Tell the man thank you,” she said. I could see another woman in the cab, possibly a grandmother. I do believe this family of minority people were living in the cab of the semi. They may have been on a layover, waiting for a load. I asked them where they were from, and the mother said, “Arkansas.”
I welcomed them to Iowa and told them to drive safely. They thanked me for the chocolate treat and wished me a pleasant day.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Aesop.
I used to be an EMT and volunteer firefighter. I rapidly learned that the best way to get over a “bad call,” was to go on a “good call.”

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at or visit his website at

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