Hey! I got interviewed!

My friend, Shelly Immel, has a kickin’ project called THE BIG LIFE PROJECT. As she moves into her own bigger, fuller life, she blogs about her own experience and interviews other people about theirs. Despite the fact that I have spent the better part of my life avoiding being in front of the camera (preferring to prep and stand behind the camera), I agreed to be interviewed…largely because it is Shelly and I figured she would find a way to make it easy for me. She did.

Go on over and check it out to see how I did. And while you are there, sign up for the Big Life Project to get updates on what she posts. You know you want a big life…go get some hints and support for getting yourself one.

Love,

Kimberley

 

Kony 2012, Charity Navigator and the Critics

My heart aches today and it has become too heavy for me to not respond to what I am seeing happening online with regard to the 2012 campaign. I have seen the criticisms. I have taken them very seriously. I read the blogs and articles. I read the comments on those blogs and articles. I looked at the financials and at Charity Navigator’s facts figures as well as the reviews posted by others on that site in the comments. I have done my due diligence, and I am continuing to do it.

I have lived as an aid worker in a developing country, which is something many of the people weighing in on this issue have not done. I also have a background in global communications (over 20 years in advertising/marketing and corporate communications). The combination of these two things…along with my emotional connection to the world and the problems in it, has made it impossible for me to sit silent in the face of the criticisms I have read. The critics, while sometimes making strong arguments, are dangerously and irresponsibly incorrect when looking the issue as a whole.

We live in a time where we are all bombarded with wild amounts of information and detail. We, as a culture, have begun to distrust all corporate media and for good reasons. We are aware that their job is to make money and to report things to get us to watch. We are clear that our government is controlled by lobbyists and have seen our elected officials fail, time and again, to live up to the promises made by them as they campaigned for our votes. And we are all keenly aware that injustice in this world is rampant and we feel completely powerless to do anything about it. Which causes are the most important and what can we, as voiceless and powerless citizens, do to change anything at all…anywhere?

So, there are two parts of this Kony 2012 mission…the one that is directly spoken about and the one that is hinted at. And the one that is hinted at is so important to us as a culture that it could change everything forever.

I want to address the overt mission first…the mission to stop Joseph Kony. I have read the academic arguments on why the Kony 2012 campaign is ill-conceived. One at a time:

“It is late/it is more peaceful now/he has moved and lost power already” Yep. This one is true. We should have done something 26 years ago. But we didn’t. And, while it is true that he does not have the power he once wielded and has gone into hiding, I can’t imagine how this is a good argument to just throw up our hands and walk away. His history is so virulent that it MUST be addressed…now. And to the children and families still living in fear in the vicinity of this horrible madman, and the ones who are still captive…it is not too late. If we do not find him now and bring him to justice, what are we saying to the children whose lives have been lost in service to him? What are we saying to the families who have lost children to him? What are we saying to those who would step into his place when he is weakened and gone?

“He is using children as a human shield and they would be in danger.” Yes again. This is true. But they are in danger now. They have been in danger. And, if we do not do something, they will continue to be in danger. Additionally, the Kony 2012 campaign is not advocating a specific military or diplomatic strategy for finding Kony and bringing him to justice. So to argue that because we are hanging up posters, we are telling Obama to send in troops is inaccurate and silly. They are asking us to keep this effort in our consciousness and to continue to advocate with our government.

“This is an African problem, not a US one.’ Not going to spend much time on this one, other than to say…we are a global community now more than we have ever been in the history of the world. The fact that this could happen, did happen, is a crime against humanity. Those children are our children. Those families are our families. Those dead are our dead.

We should be focused on empowering the people with education/jobs/clean water/etc. Oh, I love this one. We absolutely should be doing what we can to give these children a better shot at a healthy, educated and strong future. No question about that. However, that this even comes into the argument demonstrates an incredible “first world” bias. If families are terrified that their children will be abducted in the middle of the night…if children are afraid of going to sleep because they have seen their siblings and friends brutally murdered…education and medical care are an almost laughable approach. Maslow’s hierarchy of need, people. If I don’t feel physically safe, don’t talk to me about recycling. This should not be an either/or situation. And, while it is certainly true that the Ugandan people now need these things desperately, there are organizations already dedicated to this mission…and it is not the mission of Invisible Children, who have been dedicated to the cause of arresting Kony for nine years.

The Invisible Children foundation is spending too much money on film-making and media. As a Communications professional, I am always stunned at how completely clueless people are about what goes in to staging an effective campaign. The organization CLEARLY stated that their goal is to elevate this so solidly in the public eye, and insinuate it into so much of the social media, that those who have the power to impact change…will, if only because they will look bad to their constituencies if they don’t. This requires money and staff…good staff. People who know how to deliver a message in a powerful and compelling way across generations/economic divides/political divides/geography/etc. And those people who have this knowledge and these skills have families and lives to support. If you operate on a shoestring, you get a shoestring response. It is that simple. We would not even be having this discussion on this scale if the people running this campaign did not know what they were doing.

The film is centered on the little blond haired boy. Decades ago, leading international neurologist, Antonio Dimassio proved that it was physiological impossible for humans to make a decision, any decision at all, without engaging the emotion center of the brain. Facts, charts, figures…none of that does it for us. Ever. This horrible atrocity is occurring well outside of our Monkey Sphere (another study done that basically asserts that we can not hold attention for any person or issue that falls too far outside of our local experience of the world). What this means in terms of communication is that the event must be connected to us directly somehow in order for us to maintain the attention span for it. The film does an outstanding job of not only doing this, but also giving us an entry point into a story that most of us have not been following very closely as he explains it to his small child. His child is a perfect bridging element for us.

This is not simple. Nothing is ever as simple as we make it out to be. I realize that the campaign oversimplifies the issue. But 26 years to sit around debating what should be done is too long. It is past time to do something. Anything would have been better than 26 years of what these people had to endure, and endure still.

Tomorrow I will be blogging on the second factor in this Kony 2012 issue that, I believe, is FAR more important than the original objective and, if it succeeds, may change the way everything is done forever.

Here’s the 30 minute movie, if you haven’t seen it yet.

If You Wanna be the Top Banana…

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a thrift store in search of a kitty purse, and not just any kitty purse. This one was quite small, more of an evening bag in size, and the front was covered with a screen printed photo of a kitten. I tore the place apart looking for it. It had been there just a week before when I had been in this thrift store with friends. I even asked at the front counter if there was somewhere else in the store where these kind of things might be kept. No luck.

David Niven is not the kind of guy that you would expect would have an inordinate fascination with kitty purses, but he was among the group I brought to this particular store, and he was the one who labored over whether or not to buy this little purse. In the end, he left it there and voiced his regret later. I determined then that I would return as soon as I could and buy it for him.

To be honest, though, David is not the kind of guy you expect anything from…meaning, that he appears to be, and is, capable of doing all sorts of things. He is in his 20s, but his wardrobe is intentionally 80s…with neon and baggy pants ruling the day. He wears his blond hair long and is quick with a smile. It has been weeks since he left our home, after a short few days stay…and I miss him.

David travels around with Gary Lachance and his Decentralized Dance Party. He helps Gary get all the boom boxes set up and scout the route the moving party will take. Then, on the night of the DDP, David dresses in one of the banana suits and works the crowd while Gary runs the show with his broadcast. I used to be in event planning and I have seen many people in the type of role David plays in the festivities., if not exactly in a banana costume. I have never seen anyone work a crowd like David does.

Bananatude

When a circle forms, it’s David who gently and playfully urges just the right people to jump in and dance for the crowd. When part of the group needs to break off from the other for dramatic effect, David effortlessly leads them. When Gary plays a slow song and the crowd begins to sway, David somehow manages to pull the entire group together for a giant bear hug of a slow dance. And, he does all of this without anyone even really noticing he has done it. And this is the beauty of David. He is in it for the crowd, for the party, for the group…he clearly does not need any recognition at all that I am still a little stunned when I look back on the evening. I knew his role, and even I didn’t notice everything he had done until after it was over.

He wanted to cook us dinner before he left…and I wish we had figured out a way to let him. He kept wanting to do something for us, when all we did was offer him a bed to sleep in while he was here with us. We returned home from our trip to New York to find that he had hung our tire swing in the tree in our backyard. We have lived here almost two years and have not managed to get that hung. The fact that he even noticed it was out there is remarkable enough. Hanging it meant that he had to ride his bike to the nearest place that sold rope and then figure out how to get it slung high enough onto a solid branch. It had to have taken him hours. He said nothing about it until long after he had left.

When we drove the boom boxes up to New York, David was in the hallway of the Brooklyn artist loft space where they were crashing for the New York DDP. He had a yellow shirt laid out and was spray painting a design on it from a stencil. Mushrooms and sunshine…which is an obscure combination, to be sure. But I find myself thinking of it now and wishing I had one like it, if for no other reason, than to remind me that there are people out there who just naturally love to make things into a party…who just naturally want to get everyone involved.

If you happen to see a small kitty purse for sale…one with a screen printed kitty on it, please give me a heads up. I have no idea what on earth he wants to do with such a thing, but I have a feeling it would feel like a party to whomever he gave it to, which is reason enough for him to have it.

 

This Post is Empty

Today, the day that I have publicly proclaimed as the first official day of my life as a writer, I do not want to write.

I don’t mean that I cannot think of anything to write about. I don’t mean that I have writer’s block. I don’t even mean that I can’t get exactly what I feel onto the page and that it is frustrating. I have felt all of those things before at one time or another. Today, all I feel is resistance. My jaw is set against it. Yeah, I can feel my jaw tight and determined.

The logical part of my brain is pleading. I can feel that as well.

“It doesn’t have to be good!”

“It doesn’t have to change anyone’s life!”

“It doesn’t even have to be anything about Haiti, Nepal or the fact that you are blowing your life wide open!”

“Just get something down.”

“Just write.”

“Anything.”

But it is almost noon and I have cleaned the kitchen, finished some financial stuff that has been hanging over my head, I have made appointments and filled in more of my to do list. And all this was done with an undeniable air of defiance.

I am not your monkey.

And I don’t even know with whom I am fighting. Whose monkey am I not being exactly? There is no outside pressure on me to perform. I have no deadline pressures. I have no authority figure over me.

I am too new at this to know what to do with myself when I am actively and aggressively resisting something I want to do. How does one talk themselves down? And, seriously, what am I to do with the insolent child of myself, pouting with her ball in her arms, threatening to take it home?

Anyone?

Xo,

Kim

Haiti, A Wide Road and Two Boys

At the top of the hill above the camp is the MASH unit style tent hospital. A wide dirt road runs in front of it, scored by the hundreds of vehicles that have passed this way over the two years since the earthquake bringing medical supplies, workers, volunteers and the sick and injured. There is not any other traffic on this road as it dead ends shortly after the hospital at what used to be the helicopter landing pad.

I met Elius and Thierry on this road (I have changed their names). We all do eventually, the volunteers. These boys are as familiar on that road as the doctors and nurses. They live in the tent city below the hospital and spend much of their free time hanging around that makeshift clinic above the camp.

Neither speaks fluent English, or much english at all really, yet both are extraordinarily comfortable around strangers and strike up conversations with more ease than seems possible given their life. It is clear that NGO workers have been a fixture in their life.

Elius appears to be the ring leader…maybe of everything. He pursues language with a thirst that I have never seen in a child his age. He speaks bits of five languages…the languages of the UN soldiers permanently stationed in the camp where he lives. When I first met him a woman in our group told him she was from Pakistan. His first question to her, in English – “What is the language in Pakistan?” and then “Do you have an Urdu dictionary you can give me?” He is as proud of his collection of foreign language books and dictionaries as he is of his new soccer ball, which he protects to the point of obsession. He is chatty and curious. I love the fact that every single interaction with him leaves me exhausted from the work I do answering questions.

“What are you writing now?

“Does your son eat plantains?”

“Do you have a car where you live?”

He always grabs my arm, conspiratorially, and leans in close as he asks me things. He is unlocking the secrets of the world. Every question brings him closer in a way I do not understand.

Thierry is quieter. His angelic face adds to the impression that he is some kind of spiritual puzzle to figure out. And, perhaps he is. But he is also mischievous and fearless…he boldly asks me for money to purchase books for school and academic contests. And I always give it to him. Always. I know I am not supposed to, but when he asks, I am a mom and he is a kid who clearly needs a new pair of shoes. Badly. I smile broadly the next day when he shows me his beautiful new Croc knock offs.

Thierry is completely captivated by my camera. He and I fell into a routine…he lets me take pictures of him and then I hand him my camera for him to take pictures himself. I always sit, far longer than I had intended, on benches made of solid sandbags stacked under a tarp, and I watch him and the boys that follow him around to see what he is doing with this giant monster of a camera. While he wanders around with it snapping mostly useless shots of motion blurred dogs and cars, I rest. And this is really the deal we have struck, even if it is only me who is aware of it. There is nothing I can do here at the camp without my camera and there are times when I need to just feel the body of the group here without a camera between us.

Learning that moving the camera creates a blur...

Over time, he improves and toward the end of my three months, I can usually count on three or four decent photos from the hundreds he shoots. He gets some interesting angles as he sits with friends and when I give him a task, like moving up through the crowds at church and get pictures of the little girls in the choir, he boldly moves in and gets those shots and more. I am able to sit with him, look through the shots and tell him the story I see in what he has taken. He beams.

Theirry's photo of the church

It’s funny how little I anticipated their impact on me at the time. While living your life, you do not stop to think “These moments will define so much of my experience here.” But they do. And, as I remember them guiding me through the camp to the church or the market, I wonder what kind of options there are for them there. I worry about the fact that Elius is smart as a whip and a natural born leader. Most of the easy options for a child like that involve doing things that are not legal or safe. Thierry’s angelic looks are becoming a handicap as he slips easily into the hearts of the international aid worker community and the recipient of their easy money…because the problems in Haiti are too damn big for one person to solve, but $10 for textbooks is doable. And I am not the only one who starts to feel protective around these boys.

They were on my mind as I boarded the plane for home. I imagined bringing them here with me and wonder even today if coming to America would be better. The opportunity we have here comes at a cost, which I did not really understand until I lived somewhere else. But the point is moot, I cannot bring them home with me, even if I could discern if that would be better for them. But knowing that doesn’t stop the wondering.

xo,

Kimberley

And it begins…

When do you stop doing what you should do and start doing what scares the hell out of you? For me, it’s Monday.

I have always felt called to be a writer. But there was always too much work…too much family activity…too many excused why I can’t do it yet. But, as we all know, there is always time enough to do the things you make time for. It was always just easier to explain why I couldn’t instead of figure out when and how.

Tina and I have decided that I will not go back to work for now. For now, my work will be writing. We shall see in a few months what it comes to.

I appreciate every word I get from you on this journey. You can follow me here:

www.kimcambron.com

or on Twitter at kimcambron.

I am ignoring the panicky feeling in my stomach as I post this for everyone to see, and posting it anyway.

Xo,

Kim

Living Dangerously

“The voodoo priestess can kill you
And she does not even need to be anywhere near you.”
I am sitting in the back of a pick up truck
Against the tailgate
Because here I am in Haiti,

Living dangerously.

“It is hard for you to understand their magic.

Because you are not of here.”
The women with me in the back of the truck are American too.
They are skeptical.
We are always so skeptical of things we don’t understand.

“People in the rural areas,” his English perfect,

his accent perfectly Haitian, “they believe everything is voodoo.
But it is not everything.”
One of the women in the truck bed with us speaks up,
“Maybe they can kill people,
because people believe in it.”

Our young host looks down as if trying to find a connection

In the grooved floor of the truck bed.
There is none there either.
“You are probably safe,
you are not from here,” he decides.

“But we are of this land,

This soil is in our bones.”

A car pulls up behind us and the headlights frame the dark outline of my head
And shoulders
Until my reflection in the back window of the truck
Looks like I am
The absence of light.

“Yes, you are probably safe.

Still
If you see a white woman on a horse
Or a black dog that is unusually large,
Do not go home.
Do not go to sleep.
Just in case.”

Arrival and the Haitian Flop

Hi Kimberley fans. It’s Tina. With Kim’s permission I am posting a few entries in the form of notes I have received from her. I am taking out any reference to famous people and the name of the organization to comply with the media agreement she had to sign. Kim sends lots of love. She is receiving your emails and good wishes. She doesn’t have much time for personal correspondence. Being inspiring is apparently more than a full-time job. 🙂

I am sitting in the large living room area in the headquarters. I am sitting here, in the middle of everything and everyone because the room I am going to be living in for the next three months is currently full of someone else’s stuff who has not quite moved out yet. I am not upset so much as I am overwhelmed. Trying to find the fun and adventure in this. Not quite there. I feel pretty certain that everyone here thinks I am deadly serious. Maybe I am.

My room is quite a luxurious set up compared to the other accommodations here. As a long term volunteer (most are here for two weeks or so) I get my own space. A giant room upstairs has been divided into two rooms but a wood frames and partial walls of plastic tarp. I almost cried with relief when I saw it. There is a light, two electrical outlets and a small window. There is a standard issue cot there, not sure if I get that. I have my fingers crossed. There is no door, but at this point, I could not begin to care less. It feels positively palatial. I wish I could move into it right now.

It rained like crazy this evening. Wild lightning and thunder torrential downpour type stuff. I put on my swim suit to go stand in it on the deck outside of my room. There are two tents on that deck…all space is occupied here. In any case, a guy saw me go out and showed me a little secret. He has a covered front area and a bucket sitting on the ground. When it rains, you can go out and dump the water from the cover into the bucket and then pour it over your head. It is freezing and wonderful. I have done it twice already. No one is up there, and it is dark. Heavenly. I needed that.

The drive here was wild. Reminded me so much of Nepal, with beat up streets running down into winding roads with houses and buildings all over the place.

Anyway, the streets are tragic. Things for sale everywhere. Art, drinks,  something that looks like it might be cleaner…not clear. In any case, the people seem extremely friendly, just desperate. The airport was insane.

The minute I am outside of immigration, I am in the middle of a sea of people who want to be the one to help me out to whatever form of transport I need to get to. In this sea of faces, I am supposed to pick out two that are in a picture that was sent to me…a small picture. Fortunately, One of them is holding a sign with my name on it.  I have six men literally surrounding me, and more waiting to jump in if a space opens up, when I see him through the crowd. He is completely mute, and not impressive in stature, but he effectively takes over my case…though the six continue to follow us to the parking lot and will end up asking me for a tip, even though I was clearly taken care of. I totally get it. They are just trying to earn a living in a country starving for work. But I have maxed out. I silently pray for the power to shut down mentally, but it does not come.

I have been praying this prayer all day. Wanting to shut down and just barrel through. It eludes me, except in very small moments. I almost lost it when it became clear that I would not only not be getting a phone, but I would also not be getting hooked up to the internet tonight. I am breathing into everything. Breathing. Into. Everything.

I met two Haitian boys on the plane today. Early twenties. They live in Boston now and are visiting for three days. They were sitting next to me and very sweet throughout the trip.

All around me in different rooms, people are laughing and joking and chatting away. I know I should join them. I don’t want to. I don’t want to act. I don’t want to pretend like everything is peachy. I just want to disappear and process. I have decided to count the days after all.

Thing is, the people seem like people we would like to hang out with, at least at first blush. I find myself wondering what brings all these people here. So many are here for over a year.

The house is giant, but not luxurious by any stretch of the imagination. The view is stunning, so it must have been magnificent once. There are many more than 20 people here, however. Many more.

As we drove to the house from the airport, I was told about a medical condition here called “the Haitian flop” by the medical team. Apparently, people are brought in without any physical issues at all, yet they are completely unresponsive to any kind of stimulation. They do not respond to anything the medical community knows how to do to rouse a passed out patient…pricks, shots, aromas…nothing. They have found the only way to revive them is by doing something to the nose. In any case, they have experienced trauma so extreme that they are complete and in all ways incapacitated. Have lost all feeling and are in some kind of emotional coma. This brought up a conversation about PTSD (the other person who arrived with me is a therapist)…to which I eventually replied, “when do you determine it is post trauma? Seems to me it would have to end for it to be PTSD.” This produced an interesting conversation. It feels really weird. This country is so relentlessly battered. It is impossible for me to fully comprehend what that must be like. The sheer relentlessness is mystifying. 
Love,
Kim

Story Engineer on Deck

Sometimes I can forget for a moment that I want something different for my life.
I am sitting outside the Chevron building in downtown Houston, the building that in 2001 was home to Enron employees. We have just finished a meeting with a client giving us the relatively recent history of an advisory network within a functional organization here. All their histories are fairly recent, it turns out…the function itself is only two years old.

We asked for this meeting because we are building a website that must include some fairly solid information on this advisory network. I did not think I had the energy for this meeting today. The thought of listening to matters of consequence that are significant only to a very small fraction of the world’s population…and then only for a fraction of their attention span, seemed so insignificant as to be a truly outrageous waste of time. But it is my job, so I go.

I am sitting outside the building now after the meeting, in the shade by the street. There are trees and people and life all around me. And I pull out my computer to write, because I find myself surprised by how I am feeling about this meeting. And surprised, also by its familiarity.

Today, we met with a storyteller. By title, he is an engineer. He lives numbers, drawings and integrated visualizations. He pulls up blue prints and diagrams that mean something to him, but look almost random to my untrained eye. It is a recipe for sheer boredom. But the two hours flew by with the unlikely combination of centralized versus decentralized this and who is responsible for that, no real story content, just regular stuff, told by a storyteller.

It is tempting to say the meeting came alive for me when he began speaking about his last post in Nigeria. “I am a swamp guy at heart. I want to be in the middle of operations, where it is happening.” It is clear by his demeanor that he is quite sincere. He is here because it is a step back to the field in another, grander position. He is stretching and learning as fast as he can to get back into the field.

But to say that this is when it became personal and interesting is cheating almost an hour out of the time in the meeting. From the moment he began talking I was engaged in the story. To be honest, the level of detail covered was really far too deep for our intended product. For what we needed, we could have taken half the time today. But I was consistently committing the cardinal sin of asking additional questions. I have been in meetings when others do this and it is only by sheer force of will that I have restrained myself from leaping across the table to silence the offender by any means necessary. Today, I was the offender. And I was not asking to demonstrate my knowledge. I was not asking because we needed that depth of information. I was asking because a world opened up to me and the questions leapt to my mind. I was curious. That does not happen to me often.

I’d like to say that maybe this will create in me a more generous attitude next time, when it is someone else asking the inanely detailed questions, but I doubt it. I mostly am trying to get the meetings behind me now, and get the product produced.

But today, for two hours, I forgot that I am working toward a different life. For two hours I allowed another world to open up. I forgot that all this supports a system that I don’t believe in.

I was just listening to a story teller.

xo,
Kimberley

Who Was Actually in Hell?

I’ve dropped into hell. You’d love it.

I got this text message as I was sitting in a sanitized lobby, waiting for a client meeting. As sure as I was that I was surrounded by juicy and intriguing stories, this was of no comfort to me today. I was not here to pry these secrets from the people walking by, practically sweating their words from their pores. I was there to discuss a project that, in the big scheme of things, was completely insignificant. Those delicious secrets would stay wrapped up in ties, slacks and shoes…the uniform that would remind everyone where they were after all.

I was on my way to a meeting, in heels and business clothes, when the truck I was driving began smoking and died along the side of the freeway the day before. It was about 10,000 degrees on the asphalt and there was no easy way for me to remove myself from the situation on foot. I hid the key in the truck, called the insurance company to arrange for the tow and then my sister to come take me home (Tina was in a meeting over an hour away). This is apparently not how it goes. Leaving your vehicle opens you up to all kinds of issues. Which is why, a full day and a half later, Tina is sitting for nearly three hours in the lobby of an impound lot waiting for the tow truck to finally arrive.

The woman in here has been yelling at me the whole time I have been here.

I have no idea why Tina thinks I would love to be in her shoes, apart from the fact that I am wishing like crazy that I could spare her the torture of her situation. When I get the text message above I cringe and cannot imagine how I am going to manage to keep my composure through the next three hours of meetings…meetings about nothing.

The woman here is threatening to go to lunch before the tow truck gets here.

As I wait, I am getting these texts AND a myriad of phone calls from the insurance company, who is arranging our tow (why was the vehicle on the side of the road again?), the tow truck driver (does the lot require us to have an SPD license?) and a dozen or so recorded messages continually adjusting the time when the driver will be at the lot. No matter how many time I give them Tina’s number, she is at the lot with the truck after all, they continue to call me. This keeps me in a state of high alert.

Mean woman starting to feel sorry for me.

At dinner, Tina tells me about the afternoon and I understand why I got the first message from her. She was sitting in the middle of a colorful story, characters running through the scene, dropping dialogue that would be hard to produce convincingly on a stage.

Lot Manager (glaring): Who’s that you’re talking to?

Tina (timidly in the corner of the room): The insurance company. They say they have been trying to call you.

Lot Manager (narrowing eyes): Well, I’ve been sitting here the whole time and the phone ain’t rung, so they ain’t called me, have they?

Tina: Can you talk to them on my phone?

Lot Manager: I ain’t talking to no one that don’t call me on this phone!

(Tina confirms number and asks them to try again. Phone rings in the office)

Lot Manager: Hello? Well you know I gotta have that ______ form before they can pick it up. It don’t matter, I still gotta have it. That just don’t matter, if I don’t have the form, I can’t release the truck. (hangs up the phone)

Over the two and a half hours that Tina shares an office with this woman and assorted drivers, she begins to learn about them. She witnesses one side of gentle private conversations the lot manager has with a child on the other end. She hears the same woman defend one of the drivers who is apparently not treated well by the others. And, as she fingers one of the two bibles perched prominently on her desk, she casually tosses some unexpectedly gentle nudging into the conversations.

Driver: He don’t share nothing of his and he comes in every day and just helps himself to our cokes. He brings just enough for himself and looks at you like you crazy if you ask him to share…but he just helps himself.

Lot Manager: Has he ever been any different?

Driver: Not a single time.

Lot Manager: Well then, you gotta forgive him, don’t you?

Tina’s right. I would have loved it. I would have been scribbling notes like mad on scraps of paper had I been there. As it was, I was absorbed in her telling of the story, even in the scant detail of someone who does not hold a story on her tongue like the delicious melting of dark chocolate. I can taste enough of the detail to wish it had been me there. To wish that those two and a half hours had unfolded for me, layer by layer, as it had for her.

xo,
Kim