Sunday, November 14, 2010

Shoes and Roses

Dear readers who recently sent me flattering emails after reading this blog because you’re too shy to comment:  I do not heart you-grande, which I discovered at Starbucks only means medium, I heart you-venti, which is large.

Thank you for asking, but I can’t write another God post until God shows up in my workplace or car and it will only be because I’ve done something (or not done something) to warrant the visit which is not usually a happy thing.

And, I’ll be inspired to write another Barbie post soon, but recall, as a Barbie, I did very little other than fluff and spray my hair, spend too much money on mascara, wear a lot of cashmere, and find stockings that matched my outfit (yes, I owned burgundy stockings) because that’s what Barbies do until they have babies, hang up their plastic heels, and denounce all things shallow.

However, in the days since I last posted I had what my father (Mr. Adage) would call a “no shoes” experience i.e. “I cried because I had no shoes and then I saw a man with no feet.” My father does not heart crybabies.

As I noted in an earlier post, our organization (not my organization as I mistakenly referred to it - it was not me who went to work one day in the forties wearing a fedora and wing tips and plugged in the phone) coordinates, sponsors, hosts, publicizes, and everything-elses professional development events for school administrators, leaders and educators of all types.

We’re always busy during conference season, but this has been the month of The Big One, the Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference (not the "CMTC conference" as I mistakenly referred to it twice this week), which draws well over a thousand educator-everybodies from all over the region. CMTC is more than a big event. It is a mammoth, gigantic, Godzilla of an event that makes each day leading up to it feel like a walk through a wind tunnel. Daily registrations, phonecalls, and inquiries grow exponentially, regular responsibilities get half-attention, tempers shrink, apologies get mumbled, sighs get heaved. Thoughts of short lives and un-smelled roses come and go as the parking lot empties, and it usually takes the sight of home to restore the balance.

It was raining and dark when I left the parking lot the other night and as I approached a stop sign on a corner I saw a woman standing there alone and in tears. She looked left, then right, then left again as though she were considering the street traffic before crossing but no one approached from either direction. Two cars in front of me slowed, then passed her by. When I lowered the window, I realized it was the office cleaner from our building.

I motioned her over and asked what was wrong. She’d loaned her brother her car to apply for a job she said, and he’d forgotten to come back for her. She had a baby in day care who was waiting to be picked up. She’d been warned not to be late again. She feared she’d lose her childcare now, and wouldn’t be able to work. She feared she’d lose her income. She feared maybe even losing her child – she knew others who couldn’t take care of their babies… She had to cash her check before she could pick up the baby. She couldn’t reach her brother because she had no phone.

I told her to get in, handed her my cell phone and she called her brother. I brought her to the credit union where she would cash her check and meet up with the brother. As she was getting out of the car, she turned and said, “I like your building. When I clean there, I think about what people do. God bless you. Thank you.”

On the way home I thought about the people who drove past that woman. I thought about the context of a struggle, and the kind of muscle we develop to deal with life, and what a capable person loses every time they’re forgotten. I thought about that office and what I do there, about the problems I’m lucky to have, and if I can even remember a time when I have been forgotten.

I needed a rose. I got one.

See you next time.


  1. I think you're going to have good parking karma for life now.

    Thank you for that. Completely uplifting.

  2. A little late for this post, but I just wanted to say that the way you live your life is inspiring, and a damn good example to live by.

  3. You made my day. No, you made my week. Thank you.