Worse, infinitely worse, than any nightmare, are dreams of work. I rather be terrified, wake up dripping sweat and screaming, than to have one of those dreams where I’m back at work, things are not going well, and I have to figure out what to do next, and no matter what I do, things keep shifting away from success. I can’t remember a lot of the details of the dream, but I was trying to get a truck to start, and it operated by natural gas, and instead of a key it had a dial like an oven. I couldn’t go home until the truck started, and that is always the best thing about work, is getting the hell away from it.
Wrex Wyatt apparently senses my despair in my dreams, and gets up close to me, awakening me. But now Wrex is awake, we must get up and go. I need more caffeine than in normal coffee and there is shopping to do.
The plan is simple; go to the local coffee shop, get juiced up, and get the day rolling while writing. The plan works to perfection. I’m jacked up, full of ideas, and it’s time to hit the road. I get to my truck and look up. It is a strange sight.
A woman carrying a baby, a small baby, and she looks pissed off. Apparently her baby’s diaper has leaked. She has a streak of fecal matter from her above her waist streaming down her shorts, and down one leg.
The car next to be beeps and the lights blink. She’s parked next to me.
I remember Martina Navratilova. For those of you too young to remember, Navratilova was one of the best female tennis players who ever walked the earth. I loved watching her play. However, the one thing I remember most about her is when her opponent went down with a muscle injury to her thigh. Martina herded the ballboys over to hold towels up to shield the woman from the spectators as the trainers worked to get the woman up again.
“Don’t look at her!” Matina snarled at one of the young men as he tried to steal a glance. Martina advanced on him, racquet held out like a sword, and the young man was forced to hold her gaze. I remember Martina’s facial expression as she faced the kid, and he looked shamed and terrified.
“Ma’am, can I help?” I ask, and she’s embarrassed to death, smells terrible, and trying to clean up with diaper wipes.
“No, I’m okay,” she says, but she’s not.
“Look, my truck has double doors, no one will see you,” I get out and open my doors, and stand on the other side.
I walk over to the front of my truck and look out over the parking lot, she changes clothes, and cleans up.
“Thanks.” And in a few seconds she’s got her gym clothes on. “Uh, there’s a trash bag in your truck. Can I have it?”
Once dressed, she cleans the baby again, cleans the spots on her legs she missed, and puts the messy clothes in the trash bag. The overwhelming stress leaks away from her, and now she’s back on track.
“Thank you, really. I didn’t want to get in the car covered in, uh, mess,” she says, and for a Monday that went bad on her, this is a much better ending than she envisioned. “Can I pay you something?”
“Thank Martina,” I tell her, and tell her the story. This is a tale that resonates with her at the moment, and will.
Somewhere out there is a young woman who has to go back home and clean up, wash clothes, wash a baby, and start the day over.
Somewhere out there is Martina Navratilova, who even though she was an incredible tennis player, wasn’t afraid to wade in and help someone.
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit.
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