Time to Chat

I entered our accountant's home in a harried rush last Friday, wanting to get on with the day's to-do list; but when we sat down, she leaned across the desk and smiled inquiringly: "So, what have you been up to?  I mean, I know all this -- gesturing toward the pile of income and donation records -- but how is your life? How are you?"

This unexpected dose of humanity caught me off guard.  "I, well -- we're good," I stammered lamely.  Rob, who has always been better than me at relaxing, told her of our traveling last summer, our adventures in the kitchen, and our quiet evenings at home with the cat.  I smacked headlong into the reality of my blessed existence, and it knocked the wind out of me.  It was with a quieter, more awed consciousness that we went on to discuss IRAs and earnings brackets.

Four days later, I arrived at my doctor's for my annual check-up; again, flustered because of a time crunch that would almost inevitably make me late for my evening class.  In she came, with a cheerful greeting, and didn't even open my folder before she asked, "How have you been?  What's going on in your life these days?"

This time, without a husband to turn to, I had to speak for myself.  I told her of the joyfully chaotic mornings with my classes, full of life and unexpected humor; of the cozy afternoons spent tete-a-tete over a piano or a prep book; and of the evenings in discussion with friends and classmates, continuing studies of my own.  She nodded sagely.  "We need teachers.  You're making such a difference, whether you know it or not."

She went on to say that her three daughters had all graduated from my school, and though they were now in very different fields (nurse practitioner, elementary education, public health), they were all grateful for the education they'd received there, especially in English.  "People just can't write any more," she lamented.  "But the girls you've taught?  They can.  And that's such an advantage for them."

Leaning forward, she delivered the lines I most needed to hear: "You're doing a good thing.  Teachers are wonderful."  And the rest of the visit was downright pleasant, even the expected lecture about more exercise.

Twice in one week, a humanizing chat in an unexpected forum brought me back to circumspect reflectiveness.  The more cynical part of me wants to chalk it up to the economic insecurity of both professions.  The optimist cheers for these tiny steps on the way to a better life -- a better world.