I’ve never like waiting. I don’t like waiting for traffic. I don’t like waiting for test results.
And I sure as heck don’t like waiting in line at the local dollar store for the one and only clerk to check me out.
So when I happened to stop by our local dollar store today to pick up a few items and saw the line of people standing in line all the way down the center aisle, I took a deep breath and said to the woman in front of me, “Well, looks like you and me are gonna become best buds today before we manage to get checked out with our purchases.”
“So, you a local resident or a tourist?” I asked, as I organized my purchases in my basket.
And for the next 10 or 15 minutes, Joyce Hoover (as in vacuum cleaner Hoover) and I shared stories of her life that made me laugh one minute and shake my head in disbelief the next.
I don’t ever remember wanting to become friends with a someone I casually talked to in the line at the local dollar store.
(And if the truth be told, I remember being totally disgusted by a clueless customer who sneezed on me while in line at this same store during the peak of COVID).
So when she checked out and left to meet up with her fellow Brits for a Friday afternoon lunch, I was disappointed that our conversation was over.
And even more disappointed that I wasn’t a friend of hers.
I wanted to know more about this graceful, kind woman who was born in England during WW2, and was a special ed teacher in Castro Valley, CA for over 40 years.
We both agreed that the teachers and students of today definitely had struggles unlike anything we ever encountered during our professional careers.
It was what she said to me just before she checked out, though, that hit me the hardest. Despite living through war torn England during WW2, she felt that kids today had it harder than she because she said, “When one of us didn’t show up to class that day, we knew that they’d never be back”.
“That was the norm,” she continued, “ for the times we were living in.”
“Those of us who survived the bombing had each other, though, and somehow we just normalized the craziness.”
“Today’s students have it much worse than we did, “ she lamented and told me to have a nice day as she walked out the door.
My heart goes out to our teachers and students of today, but I always felt that what our kids are going through today was very similar to the trauma and abuse of war kids of years past.
I never viewed it as worse until Joyce’s statement.
As a child living in London during WW2, she pretty much knew who the “enemy” was. Today’s kids haven’t a clue; could be a neighbor, a relative, or a fellow student.
My hats off to all of the unsung parents/caretakers and teachers of today. Your responsibilities and struggles are many and rarely acknowledged.
Thank you for taking the time and energy to mold this next generation of young people that will take us oldsters into the next phase of our life.
And thanks to Joyce Hoover (as in vacuum cleaner Hoover) that continues to teach even today.
You taught this old lady that maybe, just maybe, waiting in line at the local dollar store ain’t so bad sometimes.
You just need to look for the lesson that God/the universe has for you if you just take the time.
At least that’s my opinion, looking at life from my shoes.