Hard Day in a Soft-Living City

I spotted her mid-sidewalk just past Five Mile, her friendly wave shuttered and battered between the automated beats of the wipers, slicking away the torrents along with the sight of her tenacity.

It is raining. We are cold. She is on the clock.

Ironic, isn't it? Our greatest monument, the patinated personification of freedom and free enterprise, finds warped reflection in her, her bedraggled crown and terry cloth robe, inscribed tablet replaced with a corrugated sign bearing the legend 'Liberty Tax Service.' Monseiur Eiffel would not recognize this iteration of la liberté éclairant le monde, though I believe he'd see a kindred spirit, a determination to fight, to keep your head above water, in a time and place where struggle defines nearly every day.

She was standing just outside a cafe, so I pulled in and offered to buy her something hot. She told me she couldn't, but that she'd appreciate a tea on her break. The coffee kid inside asked me if I knew her as I pre-paid for her drink.

I don't know her, but I know of her. She is me, running out of options and behind on rent. She is you, tackling a demeaning task because someone else depends on you. She is all of us, surviving. We are surviving.

He asked for her name, perhaps fearing a rival Lady Libertized sign-tosser might swoop in and snatch this meager gift, only a small measure of the mercy I've been shown over the years. "Katie," she told me when I trooped back out into the downpour, and she spelled it for me. It's my sister's name.

If the statistics hold true, one hundred and fifty-six people lost their jobs while I spoke to her. This has to change.

As I drove off, scanning left right left as the rain dimmed to a drizzle, she was facing away, waving and smiling, advertising a service she could never afford and possibly might not need. She has no offshore accounts, no second home. But boy, that lady's got a wealth of guts and grit. I don't need a hundred-year old delphic piece of statuary to hold up a torch, to give a light through this dark depression, or recession, or whatever label you want to put on the consequences of some really bone-headed actions by officials I'll never meet. What I need is people, my family, my friends, girls like Katie standing against an onslaught of wind and rain and pessimism.

You can stand by yourself, alone on an island, an admired but stony copper-plated castaway, or you can stand with those you love. That's how I prefer to weather this storm.
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4 responses:

Sarah said...

Wow. Totally. The tax-man got us this last week. That big house of yours? We might need to move in with you.

liz said...

Mmmm. Indeed. Well said.

Valerie said...


Wendie Gone Feral said...

That hit me right in the solaplexis.