“Nobody’s ever loved me like you do,” said the orange-clad girl as she sat with little bare feet drawn up in the chair in the chaplain’s office at the County jail. Innocent looking yellow curls framed a troubled face.  Her name was Tami.”

That startling statement was made after our acquaintance of about 25 minutes during which time I had found out:

That she had been raised in church but she was “beginning to have  doubts,”

She was a school drop-out because she “had a kid,”

Her parents had her baby but “they wouldn’t let her see him very often”

She was a dancer – a stripper – because it was “a way to make some money,”

She wanted out of stripping because “she wanted her baby back.”

People who used to care didn’t care anymore. “They just talk about me,” she said.

She would get out of jail that week, so I asked for her phone number.


“Nobody’s ever loved me like you do.”  I rehearsed those unbelievable words.  I could have

drawn my cloak of righteousness about me,

smugly rejoiced in my Christian charity,

thoroughly basked in my good works,

formed words to tell my friends about my saintly behavior –

except for one thing.  I knew me.

I knew I had played the roles of others she had known all of her nineteen years.

I was the teacher who hurriedly filled her paper with red X’s.

I was the mother who folded clothes and told her to go to bed.

I was the father who bought her a car but let someone else teach her to drive.

I was the neighbor who looked on as the little latch-key kid let herself into the house at 3:37 each day.

I was the observer when the boy down the block started showing up at 3:45 each day.

I was the Sunday School teacher who noticed she was getting rather pudgy around the middle.

I was the mother who told my kids not to play with her anymore.

I was the gossip who let everyone know that I had noticed first.

I was the pastor who decided, for the sake of the other kids, it would just be better not to follow up on her absences

I was the public servant who took her baby away.

I was the disgusted driver who read the marquee, “Adult Entertainment! Best girls ever! Lovely Lora, Magic Mira, and Cinnamon Cyndi and Racy Rhonda – and Torrid Tami.

I was the voter who hired the policewoman and paid for the jail – to lock her up for the good of society, of course.

But, finally, finally, I was the volunteer chaplain who took her phone number, and for that, she felt loved at last.


Two weeks later, a phone call to Tami.

“Hello, Tami?  You might not remember my name but I am Oneta Hayes…”

“Oh, yes! You were the woman at the jail,” she responded.

“Yes, how are things going with you?

“I’m  back out in the real world.”

“That’s not the real world, Tami.  I’m praying for you.  Are you going back out tonight?”


“Then I’ll pray that you will fall off the stage”

“Oh, no!”  She responded, and we shared our first – and last – laugh.

“I don’t know how to help you yet, Tami, but if you want out, I’ll ask around and I’ll call back when I have some ideas to give you.”

“Yes, I want out. Do keep praying. And will you call back again?”


I hung up.  When I called back later, a man answered.  I tried again; the man answered again and told me not to call back.  I lost her.


There was a little girl who had a little curl

right in the middle of her forehead.

And when she was good,

she was very very good.

But when she was bad, she was horrid.



About oneta hayes

ABOUT ME Hello. To various folks I am Neat’nee, Mom, Grandma Neta, Gramma, Aunt Neta, Aunt Noni, Aunt Neno, and Aunt Neto (lots of varieties from little nieces and nephews). To some I’m more like “Didn’t you used to be my teacher?” or “Don’t I know you from someplace?” To you, perhaps, I am a Fellow Blogger. Not “fellow” like a male or a guy, but “fellow” like a companion or an adventurer. I would choose to be Grandma Blogger, and have you pull up a chair, my website before you, while I tell you of some days of yore. I have experienced life much differently than most of you. It was and is a good life. I hope to share nuggets of appreciation for those who have gone before me and those who come after me. By necessity you are among those who come after me and I will tell you of those who came before. Once upon a time in a little house on a prairie - oops, change that lest I commit plagiarism - and change that “house on the prairie” to “dugout on the prairie.” So my story begins...
This entry was posted in human interest and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. judyjourneys says:

    Oneta, I think this is your best writing so far. It pierces the heart.

  2. oneta hayes says:

    Judy, glad it touched you. Actually I found out where the girl had gone to church. I went there and they did know her. Couldn’t give me any more info than I knew already – the phone number. I tried back a couple times until the man got so “firm” I scared off. For one thing I didn’t know what might happen to her if I kept bugging. Hope I didn’t give up too soon.

  3. I am truly speechless! This is so, so sobering and heart wrenching 😦 It is really unfortunate that this young lady has to resort to such means because nobody in her family cares enough to help her find her footing. Just too bad!

    • oneta hayes says:

      Jacque, I’m almost sure I left a reply to you before but sometimes I think I hit an enter (like on Facebook) and go on without checking to see that I am finished. But if you see another answer to this comment, just know you’re welcome to both of them! Sometimes young people get really rebellious in the face of both love and good advice, but there is never a time to give up being faithful to one’s return. This is made plain by the Prodigal Son parable.

  4. This heartbreaking. Very well written!

  5. Roni says:

    Pierces the heart. Those are just the words I was looking for. Thanks, Judy. So who is that little girl with the little curl, really? Is it the little girl in the orange jumpsuit desperately fumbling her way through life? Or is it you and me? Are we very very good sometimes and at other times, when we turn a blind eye on little girls in orange jumpsuits, very very horrid. Convicting. Perhaps you could leave your contact information with her church…just in case.

    • oneta hayes says:

      Roni, I know I wrote a comment to you on my kindle because it came up with the name Toni which I corrected. But since it is not here and I want to be sure you get an answer, I will comment again, and if the other shows up, good. You deserve two. You are quite right. God does not judge as man judges. He knows the condition of the heart, and He can see those whose hearts are hard. Tami certainly seemed to have a “soft” heart when I saw her. Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad to see you back.

  6. Arpita says:

    This is so heartbreaking. You did your best, you tried when no one else cared.

  7. This is brilliant writing, Neta…but it breaks my heart to know what has happened to that girl!

  8. Faye says:

    Oh Neta. This is profound and extremely well written. It is a story of truth which pierces. If we are honest it is the story of us all. My heart is stirred to find the ones ‘out there’ whose lives intersected with mine. I wonder where they are today. Your girl is poignantly real . I too wonder where or if she is still with us today.

    • oneta hayes says:

      All this interaction with you friends I stirring my heart to see if there is anything I can do. I can’t remember her real name. I changed it for the story. Perhaps the Lord will bring it back to my mind.

    • oneta hayes says:

      I know I answered this but I don’t see it. Maybe I didn’t submit it properly. Anyway thanks. If you have a second and we someplace, good.

  9. dawnlizjones says:

    What can I say to this? This is revealing, and I wonder where I am in this. God, please make me available.

  10. I’ve seen so many of my former students wind up in jail–one for murder. I always wondered if I ever did any of them a bit of good at all. I wondered why I even bothered. It wasn’t easy. Then one day, years later, one of my former students found me on Facebook and sent me an email. He told me how much it helped to have an adult he could trust and rely on. I realized then that I might not have turned my delinquent kids into college grads, but I did give them something. I hope you know that you gave that girl something, as hopeless as it all must feel. She’ll hold that moment of feeling cared for with her, and that can make all the difference.

    • oneta hayes says:

      I also had a student who was arrested for murder. I went to Haiti see him. He remembered me. His chances were slim for a life free from crime. His was an attempt to getting money for drugs. I had another whose story I might blog sometime. He killed an abusive father.

      • It’s so hard to see these kids head down a dark path and know there’s so little you can do to stop it. It’s so easy to feel jaded and hopeless. But it’s great to know there are still people out there who are trying!

  11. Oneta, this is incredible. Thank you for reminding us of the obligation we have to be compassionate.

  12. Very nicely written. And very sad.

  13. Pingback: The Versatile Blogger Award Round Two! | blabberwockying!

  14. Me,Myself&CFS says:

    Beautifully written. You never known the ongoing effects of a good deed or a kind word. One day theyblight be the motivatir she needs to get away and find a happy joyous life.

    • oneta hayes says:

      Jesus said to give a cup of cold water. We can’t stop doing that just because we can’t make them drink of the River of Living Water. Thanks for the encouraging words. I’ve been over to your site. Left a comment there.

      • Me,Myself&CFS says:

        Thanks for the encouraging story and your help with this young woman. I know that a kind word to a complete stranger can go a far way, in ways we can never imagine.

  15. Hayley says:

    This is speaks to the heart. These are very real circumstances people find themselves in and you are an extremely brave and compassionate woman to reach out to those less fortunate. God bless you Oneta xx

  16. oneta hayes says:

    Thank you, Hayley, for your kind words. Being young allows for so many choices and some of them have very bad results.

  17. Anand says:

    Beautiful – it makes you think about how much you’ve contributed to the creation of what you now lie back and criticize. Great writing, Oneta.

  18. Pingback: The Versatile Blogger Award Round Three! | blabberwockying!

  19. mandibelle16 says:

    So well written Oneta and heartbreaking. Happy you helped the girl as you did. Sometimes we can only do as much as we can and God works in a person’s life despite us. That is what I hope for this girl. Thanks for sharing this with me 🙂

    • oneta hayes says:

      Thanks for reading. There are two sides to most stories. I guess I’ve seen both sides – in 82 years, surely I’ve seen much in the Christian world. Maybe it is time that I visit that church again. Who knows what might have happened. Would be a delight to see her. The church is small enough she couldn’t get lost in the crowd. However, I can’t leave my church on Sunday morning because I’m teaching a class. So many things to do; so little time to do them! I’m blessed, Mandi; hoping for many blessings to you also.

  20. Licirose Lee says:

    And this is exactly how today’s really is, we need more people like you put here in this cold world. This has to be my favorite thus far. Beautiful soul you have here!

  21. Oh, how heart-breaking! I am sorry you lost her, but I hope God brought another Christian into her world to continue the work you started. She is never lost to Him.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s