I blew it! I wanted to write on the 20th of every month for Hindsight 2020, and I totally forgot July. Covid furlough has a way of running days into weeks, and all sense of up and down and time and place are skewed.
I realized two days later that I missed a post, but then got busy in catastrophic and bizarre ways and couldn’t get to you by now.
My friends’ house burned down!
I was on vacation in Bear Lake, and called my landlord the night before going home, to ask her to check on my Penny. She informed me that Robin and Maurice’s home was destroyed by electrical fire. They were lucky to get out alive! Their pup did not.
It was quick, devastating, and total. Robin was out running errands but Mo, works works late, laid down for a nap, as he does when the teenager naps, which she did that day. It was she who awoke and saved her father. Confused, they walked out of the back, to find the living room consumed by fire that hungrily gnawed at the ceiling. At that moment, flames burst through the front windows, enveloping the roof. They were still inside!
Last week, I went over to help empty the basement of their business inventory, for insurance. It was an overwhelming, emotional job that Robin couldn’t have done alone. Thousands of garments filled dozens of bins. We counted every piece.
It felt good to have purpose! It feels good to be useful. It feels good to do good. I love being idle, I can’t lie. But, lord, how blurring it becomes.
Oh. My furlough turned into a firing. I saw it coming. Donation is backed up in a way the economy is not. Everyone wants so badly to get back to producing, earning, spending, consuming, but we have such a backlog it will be an age before we return to home pickups. And as the generation of folks dies, who call for appointments as opposed to scheduling online, my redundancy was felt more with every passing year. I figured it wouldn’t be too long before they noticed I’m not needed. 😉
It was a good job, a good crew. We were a team. And though mine was the most menial of customer service jobs, I did it well. It mattered deeply to be a tiny cog in the wheel of an organization that does good for our community and in the world.
And I worked with drivers. I outswore them all. It was a huge hit for the fucking lady to brandish the filthiest mouth in the room. God, I love cursing.
On days when I grew weary of the same, unrelenting donor queries and frustration, I would hear that wavering senior voice and remember that she might have very few people to visit with anymore. Why shouldn’t I let her catalog the quality of every beloved item? Or this person was newly widowed. Or children lost a parent. Was I going to rush this need?
I was reminded of my stint answering phones for a hospice. It was a temp job that included assisting the Bereavement Coordinator, and I learned that I have enormous space and comfort in the mourning of others. I became an intuitive and caring listener.
Still, impatience crept in, as it does. But 9 times out of 10, my caller was elderly and I remembered my grandma. The thought of anyone being short or dismissive with her so filled me with indignity that I found I liked to listen. You learn a lot about personalities and values by the way a person describes things. Priceless, inconsequential things.