A Waitress At Walgreens

When I was in high school – let’s see, that was in the 60’s! – our Walgreens had a restaurant area.  It was sort of a diner with a counter with stools. Very retro now, but commonplace at the time.

I worked there after school and for two summers my last year of high school.  I was the youngest one there, not counting the busboys.

Even so, I was always on the cash register when I worked.  I never understood that.  Was I the only one that could count?

I did learn to give change the proper way, however, which is a big pet peeve of mine to this day, when I get all my change handed to me in a pile.  I don’t know what to do with a clump of change.

Anyway, we carried everything on big metal trays.  Until the day I spilled six tall milk shakes in glass containers that broke when they hit the floor. That was an interesting day.

I learned to carry five plates of food at one time.  I can still do that today. It really impresses the grandchildren.

Every Saturday, I manned the counter, which was a nightmare.  Hundreds of kids coming in, wanting a water and a Coke.  I would tell them, “You can have one or the other, not both.”  I wasn’t going to work that hard for no tip.

And usually on those Saturdays, I didn’t make enough in tips to buy my meal.

And then once a month we had a hot dog stand, which was manned by, guess who?  Yes, me!  Again, a million kids and no tips.  A waitress’s nightmare.

But did I learn a lot working in the little diner!  The experience changed my life totally for the better.

Whenever I got discouraged about continuing on in school, I would look at the other waitresses.  They were mostly single, in their forties, supporting families on what they made working at our little Walgreens.  The encouraged me daily to stay in school and further my education.

I learned perserverence and devotion from a wonderful man who brought his autistic son to the counter every Saturday.  It was their routine.  The son never spoke but the dad always laughed and smiled.  He seemed to be having the best time, when it must have been so difficult for him.

Two of my favorite waitresses pierced my ears in the stock room one day.  My one single act of rebellion in high school.  It felt wonderful and I wasn’t a bit afraid.

One of the greatest things I learned from those wonderful waitresses was to be kind and gracious to everyone.  Greet everyone with a smile and a lilt in your voice.  Give a bit more than is asked of you.  And always be proud of your work.  Whatever you do, do your best. Work as a team.

While I was working there, a few waitresses learned that the busboys were eating some of the leftover food they were picking up from the tables.  This bothered them so, that they got other waitresses to start splitting their tips with the boys so they could buy their meals. This really impressed me at the time and has stayed with me my whole life.  The fact that people who have so little would be willing to give to those who have even less.  I’ve never forgotten.

Those days at Walgreens were wonderful.  I learned to be a fast and efficient waitress.  I learned to talk “diner.”  I learned what return customers meant by “the usual.”

I learned to be responsible and handled money.  I became more grown up.  I took my lickings with a smile.  I was proud of my paycheck.

I owe those waitresses a lot.  More than they ever knew.  They helped my grow.  They helped me mature.  They kept me in school.

In so many ways they have affected my whole life.

Thank you, ladies!

What I’m Really Afraid Of

In these trying times, the TV is constantly telling us what we should fear – closeness, touching, disease, crowds, people, coughs, germs, viruses.  These things may be of concern to me, but I’m not really afraid.  There are other things that truly frighten me.

Allowing people, especially children, to live in hunger frightens me.  People are so damaged physically and psychologically by the effects of poor nutrition or no nutrition. That, in turn, damages our whole world.  We all become less by the loss of potential in others.   Leaders, teachers, thinkers and artists are lost because of poverty and hunger.

Allowing hate and bigotry to exist frightens me.  Judging people unfairly by their religion or skin color is so divisive.  Teaching children to hate others is so wicked as to be absolutely sinful.  Our world can’t abide any more division and war.

Allowing and participating in greed frightens me.  Greed leads to the oppression and subjugation of people.  There’s enough for everyone but not enough for everyone’s greed. To meet the needs of someone’s greed, someone else will always have to do without. Hence more poverty and hunger.

Abiding violence frightens me.  Our violent selves are our lesser selves and should not be tolerated.  What comes of violence is more violence, not peace.  And that really scares me.

These are the true dangers of our world, I believe.  These are the things we need be aware of and mindful of.

Even while we are quarantined, we can be aware of the needs of others.  We can be fair and kind to all people.  We can share the wealth with everyone.  We can be calm and gentle in all our interactions.

The treatment of the whole world starts with our treatment of every person in our small world.  How we act in every little situation will affect the entire universe.  We can do healing or harm with every spoken word.

Make every action count.  It will become your habit and your character.

Sisters

I have no natural-born sisters.  But sisters at heart – I have dozens!

A sister to me is a girlfriend whom I love, who loves me back, no matter what.  If I hurt her or if she hurts me, we forgive each other and carry on.

A sister revels in your successes and cries with you when you are sad.  She wants the best for you and will defend you to the death.

A sister believes the best of you and supports you in your efforts.  No one enjoys your good times more than she does or laughs louder at your jokes.  She also points out your mistakes and loves you through them.

A sister is a soulmate in many ways.  She shares your secrets and confidences.  She knows your likes and dislikes and can often predict what you will order at a restaurant.

I have such sisters in my Quilting Bee.  We have known each other for years and yet never get tired of each others’ company.  We often comment how we all feel the need to get together more often than we do because we miss each other when we are apart.

We give each other good advice and not just about quilting.  About everything really – cooking, entertaining, grandparenting, decorating, car repair, computing, marriage, etc.  I learn something every time we are together.

Our group is very eclectic and economically diverse, but you would never know it.  You’d think we were all from the same family by the amount of love in the room.

In all the years I have been a part of this group, I have never heard a harsh word against anyone.  There are no cliques or little gangs amongst us.  And I believe the only curse word I ever heard was said by me in a frustrating sewing moment.  (I know!  I’m still sorry!)

This group is so special to me.  I knew I had to be a part of them the moment I first met them.  It’s a good thing they turned out to be quilters and not miners, because I would be deep in the mines right now.

These dear sisters share everything – no holding back.  They will give anything that is needed – ideas, knowledge, tools, patterns, fabric, support, hugs.  They will sit beside you, go with you, stand behind you, hold your hand and pat your back.  I have seen them make meals, finish others’ quilts, clean a house, drive a friend, pick up a family member and babysit a dog.

And talk about huggers!  These gals are the best huggers in the world!  I can always count on getting my quota of hugs on Bee day.  I always feel so warm and loved.

My quilting sisters set the bar high for kindness and goodness.  They make me a better person by just being around them.  How could I not be a better me when surrounded by my mentors of such high caliber?  I hope to be just like each one of them when I grow up.

These sisters of mine are top-notch quilters, too.  How lucky am I to have the best teachers to guide me?  They challenge me gently to constantly improve my skills and to never accept less than my best from myself.

I dearly love my sisters and know they dearly love me.  I count the days until we are together again.  We will greet each other with hugs and smiles.  We will laugh, talk, share stories, show our quilting projects, eat and continue on with more of the same.  It never gets old.

We can’t get enough of each other.  My sisters and me.

Lessons From “Emma”

Gramps and I went to see the movie “Emma” today.  Despite the fact that it is pretty much a chick-flick and he had a tough time keeping up with all the characters, he was very concerned that everyone would end up with the right partners. Good man, Gramps!

The movie is an adaptation of a Jane Austen novel.  That alone would be reason enough for me to see it.  But the costumes and the sets were astounding!  Even the hairdos were captivating!  Needless to say, I loved the movie.

Besides reveling in the look of the move, I enjoyed what Jane Austen had to say.  She always has plenty to say about love and “Emma” was no exception.

Here is what I learned in two hours of period drama:

Lesson #1-Never interfere in others’ love choices.  People fall in love for a lot of reasons, most of which we are unaware. Maybe even they are unaware of them.

Interfering in, or worse, judging, someone else’s choice of love can lead to unbelievable heartache.  It hurts both parties and you.  It can damage a relationship forever and can break a trust for a lifetime.

It can be so hurtful that the friendship can never be repaired.

Best to be a good friend and supporter.  Be happy for their choices and rejoice in their joy.

Lesson #2-Never judge people by their wealth alone. The amount of income a person has can be the least important thing about them.  Of much more importance is their character, their morals, their ethics, their spirit, and their humor.

The income or wealth of a person may be temporary.  It may be the result of something beyond the person’s control, such as a health crisis.  It is beyond our knowledge to know and so should be beyond our ability to judge.

Lesson #3-Love words should be spoken often.  Too often we think our loved one understands what we are thinking and feeling.  Even if they do, they need to hear the spoken words of love.

More often there is miscommunication through looks and gestures that are unclear.  False conclusions are assumed and actions are taken based on false premises.  The ending couldn’t be farther from the intention.

We all must speak what is in our hearts every day.  Feelings of love, gratitude, pleasure and need should be expressed often to that special loved one.

Very often, they too are simply waiting for the opening to speak those very words back to you.  They are bursting to tell you exactly what you have been dying to hear from them – love words.

Don’t miss any occasion or opportunity.  Don’t let a precious moment go by when those caring words can be shared.  You’ll never regret saying them.  But you will regret locking them in your heart and keeping your silence.

That will haunt you to your dying day.  Jane Austen gave good advice through the language of her novels.

Listen and learn

 

Daddy

My father was somewhat of a wild child in his youth.  No one thought he would grow up to be the serious, successful man he became.  He had a wonderful sense of humor and didn’t always obey the rules.

He and my mother grew up together in the same small town, so they always knew each other.  I think they fell in love at a young age.  Maybe it was because my father was so much fun to be around.  I know he adored my mother until his dying day.

While trying to enlist in the service during WWII, he discovered he was color blind. Consequently, he joined the CB’s (Construction Battalion) and spent the war building bridges and other structures for the Navy.

He learned a lot about construction during his tour, which served him well the rest of his life.  Psychologically he never adjusted to military life.  That old thing about not obeying rules, especially if they didn’t make sense, really got in his way.  He always had a bit of a rebel in him.

After the war he married, went to college and had three children. Those were lean years, but fun according to him.  He always had a funny story to tell about any period of his life.

And living in a mobile home with a family while working and going to school on the GI Bill must have been hysterically funny, because his memories of that time were amazing.  I think my mother remembered having three babies in three years in a small mobile home a little differently!

Daddy was always the epitome of what a father should be. He was smart.  He was witty. He was honest.  He was fair to a fault.  He loved me completely.   He could fix anything. He was a gentleman.

He made mundane things fun.  His sense humor was legendary.  He could make the grumpiest people laugh.  It was magical to watch him.

And he had a way with kids.   Strange children would just slowly come up to him and climb onto his lap.  No words were said.  The children would just snuggle into my dad’s embrace as if they knew him their whole life.  Even he was mystified as to why it happened.

I have such wonderful memories of my father helping me with school work, questioning young boyfriends, driving us all on vacations, trying to punish the three of us children while hiding his smile, teaching our dog tricks, making Halloween costumes and teaching me to drive.

My dad taught me many things but mostly how to treat other people well.  Respect your elders.  Help the needy.  Say please and thank you.  Treat everyone with kindness.  He seldom got angry and was more often forgiving.

I did see him get really frustrated with the recurring plumbing problems in one house we rented and he threw a mop down the stairs.  That was as angry as I ever saw him and really pretty funny now as I remember it.

He wasn’t a perfect man but he was so perfect for me.  He died with dignity and grace after a long full life.  He left behind a wonderful legacy, to the following generations, of a great human being.

He was my Daddy my whole life.

The Gift Of Water

I can’t imagine turning on my faucet and nothing flowing out. I can’t imagine being unable to bathe any time I wanted. I can’t imagine not being able to water my garden and lawn whenever needed.

I can’t imagine these things because they have never happened. I’ve always had water available to me . And because of that, I’m sure I take it for granted.

If I had to walk miles for my water, I would be more grateful. If I had to carry my water for every use, I would be more grateful. If I had to boil my water to be sure it was clean, I would be more grateful.

But as it is, I use water daily without thinking about it. I trust it will always be available, be plentiful and be clean

Thinking about it now, I am ashamed that I am not more mindful of all the people involved in providing this luxury for me. ( And in most of the world it is a luxury.) How many people does it take to provide me with a glass water, anyway? I don’t even know.

I’m so used to water being in my life, I don’t even question it or worry about it. I’m embarrassed  to admit this all in public. but I know nothing can change unless ii is faced. So i admit to you, my sweet readers, I take clean water for granted.

I want to know better. I wants to do better. I want to be better. I want to be a mindful consumer. I want to be a grateful user.

That will only happen if I remember. Remember to be thankful each time I see water come from my faucet. Remember to not waste any of my precious water. Remember to use my water helpfully. Remember to think of those who provided my water. Remember those in the world who aren’t blessed with water as I am.

Yes, I will remember.

 

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A Marvelous Kindness

She was wearing the sweetest little pin. A sort of wonky heart shape in multiple colors that was obviously handmade. It was so charming.

I told her how lovely I thought it was. No big deal, really. A common exchange between friends.

I expected a “thank you” or a “this old thing?” in response. Maybe we would just smile and both admire the cute little pin. Or she would tell me the history of it, where it was made and who gave it to her.

Instead, the most amazing thing happened. Without saying one word, she reached up and unhooked the pin. Smiling sweetly, she put it in my hand.

“For me?” I said.

“Yes” she said, “I’d like you to have it.”

No, no, I thought! These things don’t really happen in life. People don’t just give away their jewelry.

I tried not to accept it, but she insisted. What else could I do?!

I was stunned. No one had ever given me something so spontaneously, so easily, so freely. It wasn’t the size of the gift. It was the enormity of the gesture that overwhelmed me.

I had no words. “Thank you” seemed lacking and yet I was enormously grateful. Finally all I could say was, “I am so humbled by your kindness.”

And I still am. Humbled, that is. Every time I see that little heart pin, I am overwhelmed by the gratitude I feel.

She says I owe her nothing but to enjoy the gift. And I certainly do. That little piece of handmade jewelry gives me great joy.

I think now the best way to pay back my gratitude is to pay it forward. How fun would it be to hand this little pin to the next admirer, freely, easily, spontaneously and with no strings attached.

Just the way she taught me.