Riding the charter bus uptown from SODO to the Starbucks shareholders meeting, I lost myself in the din of small talk and made myself disappear.
I thought of a young guy who used to work for me in a store, how he said he liked mopping because it had a meditative quality to it. It’s the same reason I didn’t mind scrubbing pots for minimum wage, in college.
Someone from the corporate office called us at the store and said they were hiring for a shuttle van driver. Was anyone interested? I said no, but what else was there? Soon after, I found a secretarial job and began my office life.
I could type and spell, but didn’t know how to use computers. I had never attached a file before, but found a button with a paper clip icon, and that worked.
We didn’t have Outlook and I was to schedule meetings, so I’d leave voice mails for half a dozen people and wait for them to call me back. I kept Post-it notes to record everyone’s availability. People didn’t really use email and when they did, some refused to use capitals or punctuation, like it was a new art form.
At the shareholders meeting, a Harvard professor talked about leadership. She told stories about Lincoln, about Ernest Shackleton, and Milton Hershey. She talked about the desperation of our times, why leaders are needed, what it is that defines a leader.
After the meeting, we had vouchers to get lunch at a food court. I watched the two kids working the vegan stand, and the line of hungry meeting attendees. Next to me were a couple homeless guys with backpacks, beards, and hand-rolled cigarettes.
I sat outside on a bench by the fountain, watching the kids play and the clouds sweep overhead. The wind made the trees wave and paw at the sky. I wanted to write, but it felt better to slip beneath the incidental sounds, to curl up and dream.