I hated to do it. To run the Ad. To field the phone calls. To sit one on one in the lobby and listen to list after list of ' I can do this' and ' I can do that' and 'I could even do your job if you hired me'. I hated to say yes and I hated to say no. I hated hiring someone new as much as I hated losing the old.
And when she walked up to the glass door, skinny knees touching, white pumps, scuffed on the toes, and bare legs laced with goose bumps, I groaned. It was 20 years ago, and everyone knew you wore pantyhose on an interview and nobody, no~one but little girls in Sunday school wore white patent leather shoes. And she didn't look like no Sunday School Girl to me.....
She crossed her legs, wrapped them together like skinny snakes buckled at the ankles, and smiled at me. I smiled back. Crooked teeth to crooked teeth.
And I interviewed her. 'Have you ever done this? This? That?' and she answered in color. Elaborate stories, embellished , I knew, with a twist of lime.
Finally, I tossed out the inevitable punch line. "Why do you want this job?"
And when she looked at me, blue eyes tearing, swelling, gobs of fat mascara running and answered me, I knew she was hired.
"I don't. I don't want it all. I need it. "
On her first day, I was late.
I don't remember why.
I forgot to feed my children breakfast and had to stop at McDonalds,
I had to check the coffee pot,
I was running on empty.
I don't remember,
but I do remember her starkly blue eyes, in shock and grimacing at her newfound profession, and her chalky brand new K~mart tennis shoes. She was officially a 'podiatric assistant'.
For a gazillion years, we laughed.
We hugged. We hollowed down. We hunkered down. We celebrated, cried, and wrote our names on freshly poured concrete.
"I don't know how to dance' she said. And I watched her teeter in high heels on a dance floor, a newborn grasshopper leaping, learning, stretching....until she was free.
"I can do it" she muttered. Cigarette dangling crosse eyed from her lips, combat boots on her teensy feet, lugging bags of concrete into my backyard....building a haven for a friend.
"Just call me Cinderella" she whispered, cleaning up everyone's mistakes and wiping the soot off her face...
It's been 20 years now. She's seen my naked behinny, held my hand, held me up by the armpits when I couldn't take another step. I've passed her paper bags when she couldn't breathe, two more dollars for a lotto we'd never win, and my hand~me~down clothes because they looked better on her. We've laughed til we choked, and cried til we laughed, we've spent money we never had, and had moments together money couldn't buy. We've birthed babies. And babies that had babies. We've raised hell and a whole lotta children. We've worn a lotta shoes.
And today I pray for peace. For a martini moon. And her eternal smile.
Today I pray for the girl that never ever judged another human being.
Because she knew what it was like to walk in their shoes.
She wore a lotta shoes in her lifetime. Dirty shoes. Ill fitting shoes. Hand me down shoes.
Angels are like that.