A winning attitude
DescriptionMy neighbors daughter returs home
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Across the road from my home, and up a slight hill was my neighbor Harry’s house. He lived with his wife Sandy. They were a retired couple who had been there for many years. Harry was a man of about five foot two and a hundred pounds. He was usually dressed in a pair of dark blue work pants and a white tank top. He had worked as a machinist in many different places, but now his job was to care for his wife Sandy. I enjoyed going to visit Harry and every time I saw him he greeted me with a smile that seemed to cover his whole face. He always offered me a cup of coffee even though we both knew I only drank tea. Harry would put some water to boil as I picked out a tea bag from his wife’s collection in the cupboard. Harry was a very interesting man to me. He was born and raised in Detroit in the fifty’s. He was the son of a machinist who had the knowing of a lot of things. Over the years he had worked in many shops across the west. I loved the story of how when he was in his late teens he walked down a back alley of Detroit where all the machine shops were. Before he reached the end he had a job. He later worked at Ford Motor company as a tool and die maker. His extensive travels led him to a job as a machinist for the Boeing Airplane Company and from there he retired to his life with Sandy. It didn’t take much to get him talking, and the stories would come out of him with such vividness that it would be like he took me there himself. Harry and Sandy had daughter who was a few years older than me. She had moved from this rural country setting to the big exciting city of Los Angeles long before I got there. One day she returned home to stay. Her name was Shannon, she was really cool and I was glad to meet her, but she was having a very hard time adjusting to the slower pace of life. She found a car for sale, and got a job in the city, but. she hated the commute because it was so far away. It was sad to see her hating life so much. She was used to the convenience of the big city, but she didn’t want to return to LA. Harry and Sandy were having a hard time watching her struggle so hard until one day she got a job at a local farm. When I came over that evening I saw Shannon sitting on the couch looking like somebody had just kicked her dog. I asked Harry why his daughter was so upset. He told me she had just gotten this farm job and she had a hard day of it. I sat down with Harry at the kitchen table and encouraged him to relax. How can I relax he says, my daughter is over there having a meltdown. She’s burning for sure I told him but what she’s burning off is the softness of those city ways. When I came in the door I saw the look of Shannon out of the corner of my eye. She had the look of fierce determination painted all over her. She had acquired a boyfriend who was living in her bedroom doing nothing but making demands upon her time and resources. I told Harry, just watch, the first thing that will go will be him. She’s changing I told him, you wait until tomorrow, and you’ll see. The next day I saw Shannon come home from work, and drive up the hill. I waited about a half an hour, and then went up to see how she was doing. I was surprised to see the boyfriend was already gone. She must have thrown him out in the night. Shannon was in the kitchen making dinner for herself and her parents, and Harry’s face was covered with a smile. Shannon invited me to stay and I quickly accepted her invitation. During dinner Shannon told us all about the challenges she faced at her new job. She overcame whatever they were and dominated the day. My heart swelled with joy as she told us all how much she loved her new job. From now on she would come rattling down that dirt driveway every morning in her little black Ford Ranger pickup eager to go to work. Sometimes I would run over to meet her and wish her a good day, and she would shine like the morning sun as she joyfully proclaimed from the window of her truck “I love my job” I would jump back as she dumped the clutch and tore off down the road. The man she worked for had an organic vegetable farm, and he was very strict about the way the work was done on his farm. His standards exceeded the state requirements, and his produce was premium. Shannon learned to his do things his way and, in doing so learned to be a very good farmer. She became so good that she began to see how valuable she was to the farmer and threatened to leave if he didn’t start treating her with more respect. Sometimes Shannon would bring home some of the excess of the field and offer some of it to me. I was always eager and thankful because I knew it was the best. I enjoyed making fresh salads that seemed to boost my health to a whole new level. From now on when I went to visit my friend Harry things were much more peaceful in his home. Often times I came by just in time to see Shannon cooking a dinner meal using some of the produce from the farm. I was always welcome to join them at the table, and hear about how much she was learning on the job. I sought to encourage her by telling her she was acquiring very valuable knowledge. She developed an art for growing food from seed to table, and we were feasting on those works of art as our dinner. One rainy night as I was sipping a cup of tea over some of Harry’s riveting stories Shannon came through the front door with three big boxes of dried cayenne peppers. She was in a fret because she had to clip the tops off each pepper so she could grind them into powder tomorrow. I got up from my chair and took a box of them off her hands. I told her I would be glad to help her with them until they were all done. The one thing that was vitally important to remember was to never rub your eyes no matter how bad they itch. We had a wonderful time of conversation as we picked through the peppers, and it wasn’t until after midnight that we got the job done. A few days later she was kind enough to bring me a small shaker filled with some of the powder she had ground from all those peppers. I loved to see Shannon flourish in her new life in the hills. I would tell her how she had most all Americans beat. While many others went to jobs they hated, she had a place to go where she was able to nurture green things, and watch them grow. She may not have made six figures, but she loved her work, she loved her life, and she loved her job.