Life · people


[a momentary pause before I finish my alphabet challenge]

The other day I got a call from a friend that I hadn’t heard from in a while.

“I’m gong to visit my brother and thought I would reach out to some of my friends while I was driving,” she said.

I was so honored. We hadn’t talked in a long time. At one point we were going to try going for walks together wherever we were and talk on the phone, but it only happened once or twice before it fell by the wayside.

Life has a way of pulling us away from the very best of ideas.

The truth is I need more perseverance, more stick-to-itiveness, in my own life.

The other night I was so frustrated with my job that I went for a walk afterwards and mentally drafted my resignation letter. I thought through the commitments I had made there and when would be an appropriate time for me to give as my last day. I came up with a plan and was heading home to write the letter when I made a quick stop at the grocery store.

After I had picked up my bananas and bread, I headed to the checkout. Lately I’ve been using the self-checkout because I am peopled out by the end of the day, but I recognized one of the check-out people and went straight to her line. It was not the shortest or the fastest, but she was someone I knew from my job at the gym.

During the summer, she and her friend had been part of the early morning crowd. I loved the way they spurred each other on, sometimes only coming because the other was expecting them. M and D were both from Cuba and worked in housekeeping at a large hotel in town.

One day in the fall, M didn’t come, but D did. “Where’s M?” I asked.

“She’s packing and repacking her suitcase with food because she’s going to visit her family in Cuba,” D told me. “She wants to fit as much in as she can but she can’t go over the weight limit.”

“When does she leave?” I asked.

“In the middle of next week,” D said, “but she gets very anxious about her trips so that’s why she didn’t come this morning.”

All week I would ask D how M was doing. She was anxious. The next week, the day before she was to leave, when I asked D, she said, “Everything has changed. M heard from immigration and can apply to bring her children back with her.”

To make a long story short, M came back to Cooperstown with her children several weeks later. Despite hurricanes and glitches with visas, they made their way through the process incredibly quickly. I met her daughter in October, a beautiful girl who didn’t yet know any English.

That night that I was ready to quit my job and had stopped at the store, I saw M working the checkout line, her second job to make ends meet. She looked exhausted, but she brightened when she saw me.

“How are you?” I asked as she was scanning the groceries of the person ahead of me.

“So tired,” she replied.

“How are the kids doing?” I asked.

“We went to the gym Saturday and went ….” I could see her searching for the word. She paused and made an arm movement to show me.

“Pickleball? Racquetball?” I guessed. Pickleball is so popular these days that my mind immediately went there.

She shook her head and did the gesture again.

“I think it’s bowling,” said the woman ahead me.

M nodded vigorously. “Yes! We had so much fun. We want to do it again!”

When it was my turn, we talked a few minutes. It was so nice to hear her enthusiasm for having her family together. “Next week I take my citizenship exam,” she said. “That would be so wonderful to be a citizen.”

I wished her well and went home with a lighter spirit.

My petty complaints about my job seemed just that — petty — in comparison with all that M had gone through and was still going through.

I told a co-worker the next day, “M saved my job. Seeing her last night put everything in perspective.”

I’ve made a list of people that I see at work for whom I am thankful. M is near the top of that list.

She’s teaching me about perseverance, hard work, and joy.

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