A little grace in the parking deck

I like my job, and I like how things have turned out, but now and then I wonder what it would have been like if I had gotten that other job, the one I thought I really wanted. I was there the other day, which is always strange. I know the building so well, I spent so many hours there, invested so much of myself, but I didn’t see anyone I recognized, and no one knew who I was. It’s always a little strange to realize that the space you filled has either been filled by someone else or has closed up without leaving a noticeable trace. I got what I needed and I walked out the sliding doors into the evening, feeling melancholy for no real reason. This was compounded by the trouble I had getting the door of the parking deck open while maneuvering the box I was carrying. I dropped my purse and its contents dropped all over the concrete, making me feel even more sorry for myself, though even I wasn’t quite sure why. I finally got it all loaded in my car, and as I pulled up to the booth in the parking deck and turned in my ticket, I realized it was the same lady that had been there three, four years ago. I smiled at her cautiously, thinking that she wouldn’t recognize me. And then, she did. She said she liked how my hair had grown out, she asked where I had been. And when I told her where I was working, she asked if I had graduated, and said, “You go, girl!” Just like the conversations we had nearly every day about work and the weather and the weekend. It was as if I’d never left. I pulled out onto the street with her brightly colored fingernails waving in my rear-view mirror.

There are all different kinds of jobs in the world, and I wonder sometimes if I am half as good at my job as the lady in the parking deck is at hers.

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