Thursday, May 10, 2018

Guess who I ran into at a Goodwill Store in Colorado Springs? Still impressed five years after we met!

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Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

 Another Chance Meeting After Five Years
Written by: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez 

Dearest Readers,

I met "Joshua" five years ago at a KFC restaurant where he was having lunch with friends.  The following story is important to our recent reintroduction.  My son loves to go to Goodwill Thrift Stores in search of items that will help him complete various projects; usually these involve trips to the electronics section.  Last week, we visited one in our area.  I noticed several adults on a day trip with their group, and noticed one gentleman who seemed very familiar. I just couldn't place exactly where I had seen him, but I felt that we had spoken before. 

Several minutes went by with my son scouring the store for his treasured items.  He asked one of the sales assistants for help looking at a video game behind the locked glass counter.  She kindly showed it to him.  As we were discussing the merits of its price and how it fit into his budget, the familiar gentleman approached us and introduced himself.  The sales assistant remarked, "He's very friendly!"  She obviously knew him and I figured he was a frequent customer.  He said, "Hello! I'm Joshua!"  I extended my hand in return and said, "Hi! My name is Mary."  We shook hands and he smiled back.  He then confidently announced, "I bet I can guess your middle name."  I instantly remembered where I had first met Joshua!  That one question, the way he asked, and the confident smile sparked my memory.  So, do you think he guessed my middle name?'s the story I pulled from five years ago.

Mini-Memorable Moments are Priceless
 first published 10/14/13 at Reflections Beneath the Poetz Tree

Written by: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez 

This week I was gifted with an opportunity to connect with a total stranger.  Yet he came into my life just when I needed him.  Wednesday was a stressful day for me.  One of Isabella's teachers accidentally marked her absent on Monday.  The efficient school system that is District 11 provided an automated call to inform me that my daughter had missed a class and that I needed to call back.  I knew that my child was in school all day, but I checked with her in case she had been tardy.  Perhaps there had been a substitute teacher who might have missed her during attendance.  Isabella assured me that she had been on time and in every class.

I went to the school in person on Tuesday before noon.  The attendance secretary checked and informed me that Isabella had been marked absent from her Social Studies class by her teacher.  No substitute was in on Monday, but there was a substitute on Tuesday morning.  The attendance secretary reassured me that she would leave another email and a voice message for the teacher.  When I called back that afternoon, there was still no word from the teacher.  I left a voice message too.  

By Wednesday morning I still had not heard from the teacher, so I called the attendance secretary again.  I let her know I had not yet heard from the teacher and was concerned because I did not want an unexcused absence to remain on Isabella's record.  She recommended that I leave another voice mail for the teacher.  I said I would, but that if I didn't hear back from the teacher by the end of the day I would like to schedule time to meet with the principal.  Here's my concern:  The district expects parents to inform the school of a child's absence in a timely manner or risk being reported to social services.  If I take the time out of my schedule to determine the cause of a marked absence, then I expect the same courtesy in return.
I understand how busy a teacher can get.  I have been in a teaching position too.  What I know is that if there were an error on my part or as the result of an oversight from my team, the last thing a parent wants to hear are excuses!  Well, that is exactly what I got when the teacher finally called me back Wednesday afternoon.  I heard that she was busy with the track team on Monday and Tuesday and was in meetings all day on Tuesday and Wednesday morning.  She said Isabella's name was next to another child who was absent on Monday.  She never apologized or empathized with me or my child.  I expressed that I simply wanted my daughter's attendance record corrected.     

I wrote a letter as a follow up but never sent it.  I didn't want Isabella to experience any repercussions if the teacher decided to become offended.  So I'll wait and see if future issues arise.  Perhaps she was just having a busy and stressful week. At any rate, parent/teacher conferences are due next week, so hopefully I can communicate with the teacher so that she actually remembers who my child is next time we talk. (She called me Isabella on the phone.)

My conversation with the teacher left me in a little bit of a funk.  I know...get over it.  But I do expect teachers to at least accept accountability for their oversights.  Lord knows I've had many conversations with parents over the past 25+ years of working with children.  Even if the issue was a missing pacifier or a bottle cap, I took that parent's concerns seriously and made sure they knew I would do whatever I could to make sure it didn't happen again.  It means a lot to know a teacher cares about your child!

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An Unexpected Meeting  

So me with my "in a funk" attitude went to grab a bite to eat at KFC (which I hadn't done in probably over a year) and went to find a table.  As I walked past two gentlemen, one of them flashed me a huge smile and said, "Hi.  How are you doing today?  Isn't it a beautiful day outside?"  I had to respond.  I noticed that the young man had either physical and/or cognitive challenges and no apparent internal editor.  But on that particular day, I was grateful that he was so open and friendly.  I said, "Yes.  It is a beautiful day."   He stood up, walked over to my table, extended his hand, and said, "Hi. My name is Joshua."  I responded with a handshake and said, "Hi Joshua.  My name is Mary."  Joshua continued to grin at me and responded, "I bet I know your middle name."  I said back, "O.K  What's my middle name?"  He said, "Louise!"  "No, not Louise", I answered.  He thought for a moment.  I told him, "I'll give you a hint. It begins with a B." 

Joshua said, "Beth. Is it Beth?"  "No, not Beth."    He took a sip from his fountain drink.  At this point I noticed two ladies of mature age watching our exchange.  They smiled.  Joshua said to me, "Is it Bernice?"  I responded, "No. Not Bernice.  But you're getting closer."  Another gentleman who was perhaps a guardian or relative said, "Josh.  It's time to get going."   Joshua turned to me one last time and said, "Bernadette!"  I laughed and smiled and told him, "O my gosh. Yes!  You guessed right!"  He had a huge smile on his face.   The two older ladies laughed out loud.  We all got such tremendous joy out of this conversation.  It was so simple and pure and spontaneous.  It pulled me right out of my funk.  On his way out the door, Joshua said good bye and I let him know that I appreciated how he came up to me to talk.  I smiled and encouraged him to have a nice day too.

What an unexpected blessing.  I'm always amazed how God knows just when to send a little sunshine into your life.  I hope you too experience a joyful interaction with someone in an unexpected way.  When someone has an obvious developmental or medical challenge, don't discount the value of what they have to offer.  We can learn something from individuals who have faced adversity and continue to smile. 

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Back to Another Chance Meeting
So...Do you think Joshua successfully guessed my middle name again?

Joshua proceeded to guess my middle name.  "Is it Elizabeth?"  Nope.  "Is it Anne?"  Nope.  I looked at Joshua and gave him a hint. "It begins with a 'B'."  He look thoughtful and replied, "Is it Beth?"  Nope. But you're close!  Joshua's eyes lit up and he smiled. "Bernadette!"  Yes!  You really are good at guessing!  The sales associate was smiling too at this point.  I told her, "I'm sure I met him a few years ago!  He is the only one who has ever wanted to guess my name."  I turned to Joshua and smiled. "You may not remember, but I met you at a KFC a couple of years ago." (At the time I didn't realize it had already been five years!) "You introduced yourself to me and my children and guessed my name. It's so great to see you again!"  He politely smiled and asked, "Since we haven't seen each other in a long time, may I have a hug?"  Of course I said yes, and happily complimented him on how well he looked.  

I love being able to connect with individuals who are genuine and pure of heart.  There was something so innocent in his ability to communicate using what he knew as a tool his ability to guess someone's middle name was an asset.  It is important for each of us to find a way to appreciate, help, and understand other points of view.   Here are a few "What ifs" for your consideration:

1.  What if I hadn't responded to Joshua's greeting five years ago?
2.  What if my children had observed me ignoring or mocking Joshua's attempts at communication?
3.  What if I wasn't aware of Joshua's challenges or appreciate his efforts?
4.  What if I had been unkind or uncaring while a room full of diners observed my interactions?

There are many opportunities each of us will have on a daily basis to make a difference.  We can choose to be a positive influence in our world, or we can create dissonance and divisions.  We can learn to take care of ourselves and maintain healthy boundaries without destroying someone's spirit.  The joy I felt when I saw Joshua again and reminded my child of our first meeting was like reaching for sunshineWishing all of you the opportunity to reach for some sunshine too.  

Hoping your week has been filled with adventures,
plenty of resources to solve your challenges, and mini-memorable moments.  
They are priceless!

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  1. Oh wow, I LOVE this story. It's great that you had written about your first encounter too so you can go look back. Joshua sounds like such a wonderful, pure soul.


    1. Thanks Lauren! It was such an unexpected surprise and pleasure to recognize Joshua. I had to share this here and hope others will find joy in reading this story too. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  2. Love this! Experiences like this don't happen everyday but it's so amazing when they do. He sounds like a really amazing sweet person!

    1. Thanks Jessica! My kids enjoy it when unexpected meetings like this happens. It gives us something to talk about and appreciate together!

  3. What a cute story! Thanks for sharing, it made me smile on a gloomy day :)

    1. Hi Candice! You're very welcome! I appreciate that you took time to read and comment! Hoping your week is going well since that gloomy day. Kindest Wishes, ~Mary


Thank you for visiting I appreciate your time and comments. Kindest Wishes, Mary


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Mary Varville-Rodriguez, BSW, Child Development/Early Intervention Specialist/Advocate (15+ years), Prior experiences: AFAA Certified (Frankfurt, Germany) & Global Wellness Certified (Augsburg, Germany) for Personal Trainer/Aerobics Instructor/Exercise Prescription, UTMB at Galveston Dept. of Pediatrics - Project LAUNCH - Community Outreach/Referral Development/EIS-C, Current: World of Writer Writer/Publisher/Marketing Affiliate/Advocate