Bricked In

Snapshot of this moment: I am sitting in the breakroom at work, surrounded by tupperware containers and an assortment of old condiments. I am eating a peanut butter sandwich with homemade jam. It is delicious. Still, someone forgot to order paper towels, so I am using a tissue as a napkin. This lack of basic supplies has taken an already bad mood and made it worse.

My boss asked earlier if I might be willing to work a fourth day every week. We are, she said, woefully short staffed. Taking a deep breath, I told her yes. Yes, although it will take my already scant time with my daughter and make it scanter. Yes, although this job numbs my brain and makes me, at least occasionally, hopeless for the whole human race. Yes, because we need the money and that’s a fact. Times are tough. Comparatively so, at least.

And they’re about to get tougher, at least for one small girl at my house.

This morning, when MJ–in a repeat performance of incredible endurance–cried about my going to work, I told her, “you know my great, great, great grandmother had six kids. And she had to work building bricks out of mud every day. Just to put food on the table.”

“Out of mud?” MJ replied.

“In the cold.”

“Whoa,” said my daughter, suitably chastened.

This story, I should add, is true. Or true-ish. The ancestor in question did spend some days making adobe bricks in exchange for food when living with the Mormons in Utah. It’s a small detail in an exciting and hair-raising tale, but it may not be totally accurate to portray her as solely and purely a brick smith. Still, her road was hard– her husband’s, too. I figure if they could survive starvation, wolf attacks, Indian abductions, and the shockingly ill treatment of the early Mormon leadership, then certainly I can survive working an extra day in high end retail until my husband is working again.

So maybe I told the mud brick story for myself.

And maybe it worked.

Still, I shed a couple of tears into my Trader Joes pretzels as I sat here. Fortunately no one was here to see it happen. Also, I happened to have a tissue to hand.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

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2 thoughts on “Bricked In

  1. Bonnie Chapin

    Dear Jess, So sad that you have to work a 4th day, but I hope you said that you would only do it if they give you health care for your husband and child!!! This is such a hard time of year! We just got shoveled out of one snow storm and another is coming tomorrow, and then a huge one on Sunday! There are very few people in town, so retail here is really slow!!! I saw Lily yesterday for the Gift Show, and she is bummed to be back in NY with the terrible weather! I’m sure Abigail is also. Yesterday, taking the subway which took forever, trudging through the slush to 12th Ave. was not too pleasant, but hey, lots of people are going through lots worse! So, hope to talk to you soon! Love, Mom

    Reply

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