31 May 2009

the success of jed

i was standing four deep in the checkout line of a supermarket in a nearby town, holding my basket of 15-items-or-less and reading the covers of magazines. it was hard not to notice our cashier, a pleasant young man, as he smiled and greeted each customer, one by name even, making small talk about their purchases as he rang them through: how old is your baby? what kind of cat do you have? i love the way this smells, don't you? in each instance, he made eye contact, smiled, and drew the customer out with questions so they were fully engaged in conversation by the time he bagged their groceries. only as i came closer did i see his name tag and make the connection - this was jed, a first grader in my class so long ago. jed, a sullen and quirky child, a difficult student, the kind i worried about as i time after time tried and failed to reach him. precisely the sort of student a teacher might think would never find success in life. never get good grades. never go to college. never move away. yet here he was, in the fifth year of a job he loved and was good at, he told me. he shared an apartment with a friend. he had nieces and nephews and cousins. he had a cat. and he was happy. he was a careful and conscientious worker and his pleasant demeanor made people's days richer. i walked away smiling, knowing that, in his own way, jed certainly had found success.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

that was beautiful! thanks for showing that there is more than one way to be a success in life. joanna

Anonymous said...

Success and happiness are often homegrown and radiate from the heart. You paint a picture that makes me smile!

Cherie/Miss Blessing said...

i've been thinking about this post every day.

chris said...

thank you for the comments. i try not to write about work-things; best to leave them where they are and not clutter my picture playground with them. but that particular encounter had a profound impact on me. i can't stop thinking about it either.