Friday, September 2, 2011

Everything I Learned in Life...

Everything I learned in life.... I learned at the laundromat! The laundromat just down the road was my first job. It was where my mother worked, where my father worked and where both of my grandparents worked. Of course, they all worked there after many years in other careers but for me it was just the beginning ... where I started & where I learned many invaluable and tremendous life lessons!

Esther worked at the laundromat as well. She was a wrinkled, hard working woman in her early sixties with the voice of Bea Arthur.  Esther had a Deaf son, Eddie. He would stop by work to check in with her when he was in town and running amuck with his friends. He lived mainly at the residential Deaf school in Wilson, NC. On those occasions, when he was home and stopped in to chat with his mom, I was fascinated and in awe with their communication. He used American Sign Language fluently and it was painful to watch Esther struggle to keep up with his flying hands.

Hind sight being 20/20, it was the spark in me that started a wild fire.  I now have three national certifications in interpreting and own an agency that provides services to Deaf clients across eastern North Carolina.

Just the other day I stopped in to the small cleaners where I take my work clothes to have them pressed and spiffed up. To be completely honest, I could press them myself but walking into the cleaners sometimes feels like listening to an old familiar song where the rhythm matches your heart beat. Anyways, I took my clothes in to drop them off and to chat with Bertha for a few minutes.  Wonder of all wonders, that very day was Bertha's last day at work! It came as no surprise to me that on that day and in that place, Bertha reminded me of a bit of simple wisdom that I will cherish and utilize, paying homage to my lessons from the laundromat!  With her hair twisted up in a bun, glasses sliding down her nose, and a grin as wide and teethy as a billy goat's,  she told me, "Treat your workers right and they will work hard for you ... and love it!" There was no doubt that she was telling me she hadn't been treated well but there was no anger or animosity in her voice. It was just plain and simple.

So with the fire sparked by Esther and the gentle reminder from Bertha, I mailed out these invitations to the wonderful group of interpreters that I have been blessed to have working with the agency, All American Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc.


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