What's been on your mind this weekend? We have enjoyed our first sunny days -- harbingers of our soon-to-come, brief spring. The riot of pollen has begun, and the birds are in transit. We saw what appeared to be an owl sitting in a low tree a few mornings ago, a rare sighting. Native American wisdom might say we are in for a dose of vision and insight, something I would welcome.
This week I heard many stories of people in transit, too, or whose jobs were transitioning -- not in positive ways. The woman who cut my hair had been an elementary school teacher for seven years, but applied for and accepted a scholarship at the Aveda Institute. She spoke avidly about the highlights of teaching her student population: watching them learn to read and then make meaning, and mature as a result of their newfound abilities, but the downsides to the job over-matched her enthusiasm. Her spirit and smile were infectious, and I'm sure she will be a success in her new field.
Next, while checking out at Ross one of the employees told my cashier that she (the cashier) needed to take out the trash. I asked if this was a new policy, and she could not restrain her disdain, "I did not hire on for that. I will pick up the hangars and clothes, but I'm not taking out the garbage." It seems this was a newly-enacted policy, and said she was ready to be fired if need be.
I have checked out with her over the years, and she has always been most pleasant, so this was disappointing to hear; not only a new duty for her, but the loss of jobs for the janitors. (As the dumpster is behind the building in a somewhat dangerous and concealed area, I do not blame her.)
Ditto was the disappointment expressed by a well-spoken employee at Home Depot, who apologized for the wait due to recent downsizing. Since she was a young woman, I was surprised at her awareness and sorry for her predicament. She was a good spokesman for the company, said she enjoyed working there, but that it wasn't right for there to be only one sales associate at checkout at 6 p.m. She said she didn't want to blame Obamacare but speculated it might have something to do with the employment situation.
The man who did my massage left his lucrative job as a software designer because it was killing him. He was told at the age of 30 that he needed a hip replacement, and he felt like he could do better. He was obese and static all day, and compressing a spinal nerve; he said most of his fellows looked just like him. He has spent the last several years educating himself about how to return to wellness.
His said he is happy because his old job and his new one share the challenge of connecting the dots to make things work; his new life will look more like this man's. He said he has decided to prioritize health and human connection over the ingathering of stuff.
Finally, the manager at Walgreens (about whom I've written of before) shared that her daughter, who is doing a legal internship at a Florida legislator's office, is in her final stages of burnout from the overwhelming need of the constituents and the diminishing resources to address them. I complimented her on her daughter's strong social service ethic and asked what she had done to help inculcate that.
The stern mother in her pulled herself fully erect and set her jaw: "Every morning I had my children read a news story from the paper, not just for the details but for understanding, too." Impressed, I praised her protocol but said that a well-informed citizenry might not be what our government is after. She agreed, and left me with the most plaintive question: "What can we do?"
It was not a toss-off -- she wanted to know.