Wednesday, April 2, 2014
The Lady Who Sews
This photograph is of a wonderful lady I met while at work a few years ago. My job consisted of going in and out of yards and sometimes houses which normally was pretty awesome because of the ever changing environment. But in this particular area, there was a lot of resistance which made my job highly stressful. I love chatting with customers, seeing new things, hearing new stories - it's one of the reasons I enjoy working "field" jobs to this day. But in this city it had gotten to the point where I would hope people didn’t answer their doors so that I wouldn’t have to interact with anyone - which is totally opposite of my normal behavior.
I was having a particularly bad week where I was actually assaulted by a customer (that's a story for a later date) and then I met Gloria. She opened her front door, and the picture above is exactly what I saw when I peeked in. She was sitting there, at her sewing machine, working away. I explained what I was there for, expecting resistance like I had grown accustomed to, but she just smiled with her whole body and told me to go right ahead and do what I needed to do. As I was out back working, she peeked out and said, “When you’re done, come inside, I’ve got a little something for you.”
Afterwards I went inside and she motioned for me to follow her, and she showed me these piles, baskets, and trunks full of crafts she had made. They were gorgeous! She told me to pick out a set of potholders from the trunk. I asked her if she had ever thought of selling these beautiful items, and she said she used to have four shops downtown, but with the economy, she had to close them up, one by one, and now she doesn’t sell anything at all. I asked her why she still kept making them, and she told me, “It’s my therapy.” I was enthralled by everything she was talking about. She was wise without being condescending, yet with a gentle sternness to ensure that I was taking what she said to heart.
I regretted having to leave, I wished I could’ve stayed there all day. But I had to get back to work. I told her how much I appreciated her time and the gift, and then asked for one small favor before I left - if I could take a picture of her. I told her I admired her sewing machine from the minute she had opened the door, and would like a picture of her working at it, just like my first impression of her. She blushed and commented about how she wasn’t even wearing a nice shirt, but said she would love to. She told me a little more about the sewing machine as well. It was her mother’s, made in 1909, and she still does all her sewing on that, and only that machine. I told her it was beautiful, and so was she. I took this one photo of her working at her machine. Just this one. It was perfect, I had no need to retake it. I thanked her again and then reluctantly left to continue on with my work day.
I love this picture so much because it reminds me not just of this woman and her stories, but it is a constant reminder that I never know what will come next. It doesn’t matter how bad of a day I’m having, or how many “difficult” customers I’ve had to deal with, there’s always another door, and I never know who will be behind it. This still rings true with my current job as well. When I have customers treat me poorly, I think about Gloria and she is a reminder that I can’t let negative experiences make me a negative person. Every second - every breath - is brand new. And I need to make the best of it and be the best person I can be.