As a newly graduated English Majorette, I headed Out West to seek my fortune, and arrived in Seattle just before the holiday season.
While I decided what to do with the rest of my life, I landed a temp job selling shoes at the downtown Frederick and Nelson’s to pay the rent.
The shoe did not fit. Most of the saleswomen spent their paychecks on new clothes, using the employee discount, of course. I had two and a half presentable outfits, and rotated. I didn’t wear make-up or high heels, but I did have a decent pair of leather boots that went with everything. I was competent and polite, except to the imperious bitches who mistook the fitting chair for a throne and were used to being waited on hand and foot. They were the ones who came in five minutes before closing, ordered me to fetch four different pairs of shoes in three sizes, then stuck out their feet for me to remove their own shoes for them.
That six week position seemed an eternity, but I had a secret superpower to get through it. Long before the invention of Photoshop, I had mastered my own techniques for photo doctoring.
It was crude, but effective. And my family was very forgiving.
All it took was a pin to scratch away here and a red marker to color in there, and voila! I turned my Frederick and Nelson’s staff pin into a Frederick and Nelson’s staph pin. No one even noticed, but somehow it was a sign, and it made all the difference to me.
Then one cold December day my boss called me into the back room. I was sure she was going to fire me for badge tampering. But she said, “I want you to work here on a permanent basis beginning in January.”
Before I could tell her, “Thank you, but I want to check out job opportunities in Hell first,” she leaned forward to stare at my bosom. Or at the badge on my bosom, to be more precise. “I think there’s a typo on your badge.”
“So it would seem,” I replied.
“That’s never happened before. Go get a new one, and then let me know as soon as possible about the job.”
I never did trade in my Little Red Badge of Courage for a new one. As for the job selling shoes… those boots were made for walking, and that’s just what they did. They walked on down to Grand Teton National Park, where I waited tables, and to King’s Canyon National Park, where I taught canoe.
And they brought me back to the home of my heart…
…where I became a professional storyteller…
Along the journey, I have learned to pay attention to my instincts, and to read the writing on the wall.
But I still keep the badge as a reminder that sometimes one must relish the tiny victories along the way.
c2013 Naomi Baltuck
Click here for more interpretations of the Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs.