Lunch time at last! It had been a long, tedious morning and she was ready to take a break. As she headed for the employee lounge, she could already hear the cackling of the usual lunch crowd and she guessed that the topic of conversation was Denise, a secretary who had just received a huge promotion. Denise was not one of the regulars in the lunch room; she typically scurried in straight to the fridge to retrieve her lunch bag and then rushed out again. She probably always thought she was better than us.
Better go to the bathroom first, she thought. As she stood before the mirror washing her hands, her eyes were drawn to the necklace her sister had recently sent to her after she told her sister how trapped and helpless she felt in her dead-end job. Suspended from a chain was a sparkling, silvery charm that read, “Live the life you’ve dreamed.” It was pretty, she thought, and the Thoreau quote was a nice sentiment. “But how many ordinary people like me are livin’ the dream?” she sarcastically muttered to herself.
As she approached the lunch room again, she heard someone say, “I wonder who she’s sleeping with?” followed by the loud collective guffawing laugh of her lunch buddies. She was feeling down and wasn’t in the mood for this kind of chit chat today, so she turned around and headed for the side door to the courtyard. As she rounded the corner to find a bench to sit on, she saw Denise sitting alone. She wanted to turn and go the other way, but she figured she had already been seen and didn’t want to appear rude. She decided to just say “Hi,” though, and nothing else; she didn’t want to hear Denise gloating over her new promotion. But when Denise looked up, she could see that she had been crying. She instinctively asked, “Are you okay?”
Denise looked embarrassed as she shook her head yes, but then she blurted out, “I’ve been going to night school for five years and finally got my degree. I was thrilled when I received my promotion, but now no one is talking to me. I’m a single mom and I just wanted to make things better for my baby girl and me.”
“Wow, night school,” she said, “how did you do that, work full time and care for your child, too?” Denise dabbed at her eyes with a tissue and between sniffs said, “I studied during my lunch hour and after my daughter went to bed. It was exhausting, but I thought it would be worth it. I really loved the classes.” Denise’s eyes were glowing as she talked about her schooling; it had always been a dream of hers to be the first one in her family to earn a college degree.
As she listened to Denise, her mind was also busy dusting off an abandoned career dream she once had until it was as shiny and new as the pendant dangling from her neck. Glancing at her watch she realized her lunch hour was quickly coming to an end, but she had so many questions to ask Denise, a whole new world of possibilities had just opened up for her. She impulsively said, “Denise, I need to get back to work, but can we get together for lunch tomorrow? I’ve been thinking about going to school, too, and maybe we can support each other with the changes in our lives.” Denise’s face lit up with gratitude as she enthusiastically nodded yes.
Standing up to leave, she put her hand out and sincerely said, “Denise, congratulations on your new promotion!”
See Heart Projects’ Sterling Silver “Live the Live You’ve Dreamed” Henry David Thoreau Necklace on our website, www.heartprojects.com.
Purchase one as a gift to “heartivate” a friend or loved one, or buy one for yourself!