While on a business trip, I had some down time so I stopped for a cup of coffee. As I entered the shop, I was greeted by one of the shop’s associates. “Welcome to our shop,” she said with a great big smile, “and how are you doing today?”
“I’m doing great,” I replied, “and you sure seem to be happy today,” as I ordered my cup of coffee with no room for cream. Turning to fill my coffee cup she glanced back at me and said, “I’m happy every day!” Smiling back to her, I said, “You must really like this job.” She smiled and said, “I love this job.”
Always looking for an opportunity to interview, I asked her, “ so, why do you love this job?” Setting my cup of coffee on the counter, she said, “the pay and benefits are good and as a single mother of three that is really important to me. But it’s more than that.”
The smile on her face turned into a very serious and thoughtful expression. I said to her, “tell me more.” Without any hesitation she responded, “This company gave me my dignity.” Allowing for some thoughtful silence, I said, “your dignity?”
Tears welled up in her eyes. “I told you I was a single mother with three kids. I don’t know for sure who fathered any of them. I was a prostitute. This company came to the safe house and offered several of us girls a chance. I was the only one that took it. Now I am being a real mom and supporting my girls.”
With tears in my own eyes, I said to her, “You obviously feel good about yourself and your girls.” That big, winning smile returned to her face as she wiped away the tears. “I really do and guess what I did last week?” Not willing to risk a guess, I replied, “I have no idea. Tell me what you did.” Almost dancing with joy behind the counter, she said in a strong, proud voice, “I got my GED!” My tears came back and before I could say a word, she said with unrestrained joy, “And guess what tonight is?” Being completed overwhelmed by the joy I was blessed to share, all I said was, “Tonight?”
“My first class at the junior college!”
This is a true story. There are so many lessons to be learned here so I encourage the reader to sit back and think about it for a few minutes. I did not get back to the location for several years and when I did, she was not there any longer. One associate did remember her and said she had gotten her Associate’s Degree, but she did not know what happened after that.