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Melissa Carter It was a sim­ple Face­book post, but it soon made me aware of the quite sen­sa­tional death of a class­mate some 20 years ago that I had no idea about. I had found two news sto­ries that would qual­ify for my Can O Crazy, a seg­ment I once did on B98.5 and now do on my pod­cast, “She Per­sisted.” I asked ev­ery­one to choose their fa­vorite head­line from these op­tions. The first was: “Bur­glar breaks into es­cape room, can’t fig­ure out how to es­cape.” Rye Ward­law is ac­cused of break­ing into the es­cape ex­pe­ri­ence, which if you’ve never been is a locked room with clues and puz­zles par­tic­i­pants need to solve in or­der to leave, in Wash­ing­ton state. He caused so much dam­age to the fa­cil­ity that he couldn’t get out af­ter break­ing in. Ward­law even­tu­ally had to call po­lice him­self. The sec­ond head­line, which I will re­veal later, was even more dra­matic and ironic than the first, and the one I as­sumed most would vote for. That’s when I saw a com­ment from sev­eral home­town friends who said that very thing hap­pened to one of our class­mates. I had to know more and con­tacted one buddy di­rectly. His feed­back was that the woman, who grad­u­ated a year be­fore me, was “buck naked” and that she and an­other per­son “were smil­ing” post­mortem. He also said the funeral was “one of the damnedest ever,” with mourn­ers so over­taken by grief it “sounded like be­ing be­side a livestock truck with the wait­ing and kick­ing.” So now seems the best time to re­veal the sec­ond head­line I posted on Face­book: “Mar­ried woman and me­chanic die from car­bon monox­ide poi­son­ing while hav­ing sex in garage.” The story I ref­er­enced hap­pened in New Jersey, where Tameka Har­grave’s hus­band found her and her me­chanic lover dead in the back of a car in their garage. I couldn’t be­lieve a me­chanic didn’t realize that hav­ing sex in a run­ning car in a closed space might not be a good idea, but with no dis­re­spect I guess the mo­ment just hit them both. Then sure enough that very sce­nario, mar­ried woman cheat­ing with her me­chanic lover in the back seat of a run­ning car within a closed space, was the way my friend went out. And the fact that more than one per­son men­tioned this on my Face­book page the other day made me realize how far re­moved I am from my home­town, since that sala­cious drama from decades ago com­pletely passed me by. I also realize how dis­con­nected from the peo­ple within these sto­ries we be­come, since their short­com­ings are seen as jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for our teas­ing. But when you ac­tu­ally know the peo­ple in the story, and are fa­mil­iar with their fam­ily and friends, it’s not as easy to make fun of them. Hu­man con­nec­tion, that’s the key to it all. Know­ing a gay per­son makes you less likely to be ho­mo­pho­bic, know­ing some­one with dif­fer­ent skin color makes you less racist, and see­ing the strug­gles women go through makes you less misog­y­nis­tic. And now I know that one ir­re­spon­si­ble ac­tion of a per­son shouldn’t re­duce their en­tire life to a sim­ple punch line. One of the first out ra­dio personalities in Atlanta, Melissa’s worked for B98.5 and Q100. Catch her daily on thePro­gres­sive Voices pod­cast “She Per­sisted.” Tweet her! @Melis­saCarter

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