My new job is a bit of a drive, so to make it I need to leave about 6:30 a.m. No problem, happy to make the sacrifice, but not being a morning person, I have to make doubly certain all my ducks are in a row. Last Monday was my big, shiny first day, and the night before I made sure to pack my satchel, steam my outfit, and prepared everything I could think of, including choosing my shoes. I actually hate wearing shoes, and switch to some species of flip flop as soon as the snow clears. What with Covid lockdowns and all, it had been quite some time since I had bothered wearing full-fledged footwear.
Sadly, no matter how carefully I prepare, I can’t control everything, and just as I was about to pass out in bed Sunday night, I received an upsetting email that kept me awake until a couple of hours before my alarm went off, but that’s okay. I’ve pulled all-nighters before, so when the alarm scared me alert, I gritted my teeth and went for it, hitting the shower, and eating a few bites of breakfast as I packed a lunch. So far, so good! Out the door I went, carrying my purse, satchel, lunch and water bottle, proudly wearing my brand spanking new ID card dangling on a lanyard around my neck, proving I belonged somewhere at last!
I jumped in my car, truly delighted I had hit the mark on so little sleep. Away I drove, radio off so I could clearly hear the G.P.S. over the hum of the freeway, smiling to myself until about the halfway point when a rather silly thought crossed my mind. “Wow, these shoes are more comfortable than I remember.” I was happy for approximately a nanosecond, when another thought started wiggling behind my right eyeball. I glanced down. Fuzzy Leopard Slippers, extremely comfortable.
So, hurtling down the freeway at 75 m.p.h., I have a choice to make. First day of a new job, do I arrive as a Prompt Bag Lady, or a Tardy Teacher. Two bad options. Honestly, if I had been on the job for even a few weeks, I would have brazened it out, assigning my students to write a paragraph on what they would do if they accidentally wore their slippers to school, “Give me details, show, don’t tell.” However, it was my first day, staggering under the weight of first impressions and unknown quantities. I also knew my first period was prep., so I could still be there well before the students set foot in my classroom. Shoulders slumped, ID card sagging listlessly, I turned around and drove home, finally arriving at the school forty-five minutes late, but wearing matte black loafers that were every bit as pinchy as I remembered.
The next morning I was so frightened of doing it again, I went barefoot until it was time to shove my feet in my shoes and walk out the door. I did manage to show up with all my bits and pieces intact, and was even on time, which was a miracle because I’d been so exhausted the night before I’d picked up my clock and set it right down again without setting the alarm. I awoke by pure dumb luck. The third day I managed the alarm, but was so busy being mindful of my shoes, that I made my lunch and left it on the counter to grow penicillin until I could return home and throw it out, just before eating half the pantry because I was starving. But on the fourth golden day I arrived on time with my shoes, and my lunch. The district had finally added me to the system, so I had my computer login, and the secretary had taken my ID code so I could get into the school without ringing the bell. Suddenly, I was a girl who had it all.
In one of life’s great ironies, I would never have had this chance if not for Covid-19. On the face, it makes no sense, and yet, the older I get, the more obvious it becomes that blessings often arrive disguised as disasters. I do not mean to make light of all those who have suffered at the hands of this terrible pandemic, but I have to point out that no matter what is happening, be it good or bad, it will not be experienced in the same way by every person. A month ago, I was fighting despair with every rake and pitchfork in my arsenal, seeing nothing but insurmountable obstacles on every side, yet here I am suddenly holding an ID badge, pinchy shoes, and fuzzy leopard slippers. Apparently, the Lord looks at the earthquake and the tempest, and says, “No problem, I can work with that.”
In the last two years I have tried everything I could to find employment, battling stress and frustration, self-doubt, and terrible fear. The Lord kept saying, “Wait on my time, wait on my time,” but I stubbornly kept shaking in my boots. What if I’m being lazy? What if I’m not good enough? What if God can’t bless me because I’m doing it wrong. At the very end, when I was on the verge of losing my home, I turned the last stones I could possibly think of, and went to the Lord with the rock-bottom truth, “There’s nothing more I can do, you handle it.” After that there was nothing to do but sit back and watch.
I have no idea what the next phase of my life will bring. Maybe I will forget my lunch or my pants, or smash my alarm clock entirely. It’s also possible we could have another earthquake, or an outbreak of Covid-19 at school. I hope not, but whatever happens, I know I will face it head on, even if I have to show up in fuzzy leopard print slippers. Honestly, I know I can work with that.