Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

She seemed, in essence,

just an ordinary girl, a little plain, a little plump, still quite young at 22, and working a minimum wage job at a convenience store that barely covered her car payment. The kind of girl-next-door trying to live life as best as she could, with a unique spirit (as we all have) that is now only a memory. The baby of the family, her father sobbed on television, crying for the senseless loss of a child gunned down in broad daylight during a robbery. His home was modest, his family obviously not well off, but giving the sense that they'd held out through other crises. And now this.

Who knows what she might have become? What sort of desperate insanity causes someone to walk into a store at a busy intersection with a sawed-off shotgun and shoot the employees? It doesn't sound like they were resisting. He'd sent them into a cooler. Why not just take the money and run? Why did Ashley Cason, who'd moved to first shift from the more dangerous third and was in a store with two other employees and a customer, die, when the others didn't? It's a tragic intersection of lives, and I suppose it's always fascinated me how a couple of moments can change or end a life. But I can go on with mine; Cason's father only lives a block away from where his little girl died, and that store will haunt him. Dwana told me that the news she watched said it was her last day there, and that her mom was coming in later that day to work. What a difficult time this will be for her family. So sad, and we seem to have had so many more shootings than normal this year already.

I don't often get a chance to watch the news, but I did last night, and there was something about the girl that I felt a kinship. Maybe it was a slight resemblance between us from when I was that age. Maybe it was my own experience in working with dead-end jobs and wanting something better in life. But for whatever reason, I felt a stir of empathy with the girl, with her father. If I'd just stopped for gas, I don't know if I would have had the same reaction; it's not like you get much interaction during a simple transaction. She seemed the type of girl who would chat with a customer, friendly and open. That was my impression. Next week or after that there will be some other clerk in her place, and life will seem to go as normal. But store regulars will remember, and of course her family and friends.

I've often thought that if we could just peek into another person's life for a day, we wouldn't kill each other, or hate, or take stupid chances. (Well, maybe there are a few society want want to remove because they'd just be so wrong inside, but we'd know it up front). But overall I think we have more similarities than differences. We just want a decent life for ourselves and our children. We want to raise families without too much tragedy or grief. I think we'd appreciate that unique personality, the struggles, the humour inside each person better if we could do that. That's one reason I like blogs. You get little slices of people's lives that flesh out other humans beyond a face, a name. When I was in high school I can remember sitting in English class wishing I can embrace the minds around me, know them intimately, know what they were thinking. In retrospect, you can know too much sometimes, and there are some things that should remain private. But reading blogs is the closest I can come to seeing all sides of the human experience.

And if you're like me, and you get the same thing out of blogs, consider Ashley Cason, her life, and death, and what potential might have been extinguished. The sad thing is there are probably lots of people who saw the story as a mere blip (it wasn't even the 'big story' or lead for the night, a prison uprising got that slot). They might looked down on her for all I know. But the inherent worth of a person isn't in what she makes, or what kind of car she drives, or anything like that. It's her essential character, it's her potential, it's how she treats others. I didn't know this young woman well enough to judge that, but I do know, given her youth, she had so much ahead of her, but fate (and a criminal with a gun) ended that.

Store employee killed in robbery

Man arrested, charged with murder in robbery

PS They said today (updating 9/16) in the paper that she'd decided to leave the convenience store and that she only had an hour and a half left of work before she'd be finished with the job. It's amazing how things can change so quickly.

Her Obituary (with links to a guest book)

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