I develop my nightly post in my head while driving from school to daycare to get my son. Yesterday I was thinking about the exchange I had with my friend, who happens to be a co-worker and janitor. What I should have included in my story yesterday was that I had a very different chat with another co-worker, a teacher, about the bagel dog. Her response was to shrug. She didn’t care that the students eat bagel dogs, hot dogs, and chicken nuggets as their best meal of the day. I also had a different chat with yet another teacher who told me that she could not afford to buy organic fruit and veggies for her family. I respect that.
Part of why I appeared to be astonished by my conversation with the janitor was that in my mind it was in contrast with other conversations I have had. We chat every day, but it was refreshing to connect with him specifically on food issues. I was encouraged that he was so into what I am into when I haven’t always found that to be the case with other people in my work environment.
I write these posts immediately after my son goes to bed. Sometimes I have very little energy left. If you don’t blog you don’t know that daily blogging is a challenge for a working parent. I get sleepy when I’m rocking my son to sleep. Then I have to wake myself up before I come out to the front room/play room/my desk area to file my daily report with the bureau…who aren’t always kind critics!
One of the many things I forgot to include in yesterday’s post yesterday was a setting…
Mrs. Q, Janitor, School
A medium-sized woman turns off lights and closes large door of classroom with a little peeling paint and old chairs and desks. She is tired, hungry, and a little sweaty after a long day with the students on her feet. She looks back into her room, scanning to make sure it’s ready for the next day. The nice stuff she sees was all purchased out of her own pocket.
Man with a garbage can on wheels offers a smile and a wave,
“Hey, how are you?”
Mrs. Q smiles back and waves, “Ready for home. How are you doing today?”
Discussion of health, food, organics happens as well as an exchange of the gossip…
Mrs. Q, “Have a great night. Say hi to your family for me.”
Man, “I’ll send you that link on Facebook.”
Mrs. Q heads out to the parking lot where she gets in a Ford that happens to be the exact same make and model as the janitor owns (I know that only because he saw me in my car and shared that with me).
My paternal great-grandfather abandoned his family. Overnight my grandfather became the man of the house and in charge of his mother and six siblings. So he left school in 8th grade to work and support the family. Grandpa started working as a stock boy at a local department store sweeping the floor. He married young; he and my grandmother (who also left school) had five children in five years. My dad was their first child. The family didn’t have any money, but my grandpa worked his way up in the department store. My dad got a scholarship to college, which he proceeded to lose when he failed out his second year. He went back home, worked a hard labor job to earn enough money to pay for his schooling and by the grace of god, he got his grades up and got his scholarship back. My dad was the first person in the family to get a college degree. He became a math and science teacher (that was his first career).
On my maternal side there were farmers as well as a great-great-grandmother (I could have too few or too many greats, it’s fuzzy) who as a girl sold fish in the streets yelling, “Fresh fish!” Later when her own sons wanted to taunt her, they would smirk and say “Fresh fish!” My maternal grandfather went to college (first one in his family) because of the GI bill. My grandmother went to college too but entirely self-financed because her parents wouldn’t pay for their daughter to go to college, only their sons. My grandfather became an accountant and my grandmother worked at…well, I’ll save that story for another day…
Haven’t most of us come from meager means? You know: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” I love that poem. If you go back far enough in anyone’s story, you are going to find poverty, exhaustion, hard work, just like what I detail above from my personal history books (and that’s only one little part of me). You’d have to look pretty hard to find an elitist among my family. It’s certainly not me.