Shell shocked

Shell shockedToday a woman walked into our lobby on the verge of tears. “Do you recognize me?” she asked. I wasn’t sure that I did and was about to tell her so, but she continued, “I work upstairs. I’m the receptionist.”

Ah, yes. She’d accepted delivery of a package once while we were away and I’d gone upstairs to get it from her. A nice lady.

“I’ve seen this coming for a while,” she said, “but I wasn’t ready for it to happen today.”

She wasn’t ready to lose her job, she explained. The investment firm that occupies the east half of our building is downsizing and when she got word of her dismissal, she came to us, even though we’re effectively strangers. Her filters were failing. “The thing I’ll miss most is the insurance,” she confided. She told us that she’d been making $10/hour,that her daughter’s insurance was tied to hers.

Her visit was my closest encounter to date with whatever’s happening to our economy. She put a face on it. Red eyes. Tight lips. “I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said. “I’m good with people. I’m a good worker.”

She was pleading.

Did we have any openings? We were sorry, but no. Did we know of any? No, but we’d ask around. We took her name & number. She thanked us and left.

There’s a photo you’ve probably seen. Vietnamese children running from their village after a napalm attack.

I’m thinking about that photo now and trying to remember how other-worldly it used to seem.