I had only run in for a moment, to pick up a deposit or drop off some change or something of the like. I was moving quickly, not wanting to explain myself, my attire and the fact that I didn’t know when I would be returning. None of my staff knew about my appointment downtown in an hour, none of them knew that I was interviewing with UAB for a position that seemed crafted just for me and actually paid out a salary, one our circumstances seemed to require.
I remember it was warm and that the morning sun’s glare obscured my view as my hand pushed against the door handle. That door was heavy but gave easily at my touch. I was surprised, even more surprised by the hand and the who that had heaved, just as I had pushed. She stood before me, barely five feet, demure in appearance. I recognized her instantly but couldn’t call her name, Rob knew all the names. I just knew the histories on all the bad checks.
I said a polite, if startled, “hello.”
“Came down myself today…You know ( I didn’t – Rob knew) that we always just call in our order, but today, I just came on down.”
I was still a little unsure how to proceed, I think we both still held that door’s handle.
She didn’t skip a beat. “Where are you going?” She looked me up and down. I was in a suit, she must have guessed jeans were more appropriate for my usual duties (CEO and dishwasher.) Her eyes held mine fiercely, dared me to not come clean.
“I have an interview,” I whispered, “at UAB.” The words weren’t far out of my mouth.
“…Don’t you dare do anything until you talk to KCS. Don’t you dare!”
I’m sure my eyes were wide. Here’s why.
I had started looking, really started looking for a job, a real one, one that paid, that wasn’t Brickworks about two weeks before our run in. As I had prayed and asked God for courage, to kill the restaurant, all it represented, I heard only one thing from the Holy Spirit. It was clear as I’d ever heard, over and over came the whisper, “Don’t do anything until you talk to KCS.”
I had ignored the whisper, though I had written it down and then off. I hadn’t taught in 15 years. The last time Pastor Benny and I had talked about it, Trent had been in elementary school and 75 pounds. Even then, when Pastor Benny asked me about it, I didn’t seriously give it a second thought. I was covered up with the restaurant.
So, when those very words were hurled at me again, through Rose, I froze in fear, of God/ Miss Rosemary. Trust me, in that moment she was wonderful/terrible, kinda like God, Himself.
As I quieted and fumbled for words, she continued. “Come right over after your interview. You’re dressed, come straight over. You have to talk to Margaret, I’m calling her now.” She took out her phone, like I would have doubted her. “I’ll get you on her schedule, if I have to clear it”…or something similarly forcible.
My head was swimming. I nodded, yes, mam… reflexively and did as she bade.
I went to my interview, for a job that seemed designed for me, a job I had long ago dreamed/ planned to have when I worked in admissions at UGA as a college freshman. The interview went well, the salary was generous as were the benefits. It seemed deliverance itself. I left feeling confident, a feeling I hadn’t known in a long time, and drove on obediently to KCS.
It was only a minute or two from my house. I was breathing better now, the real stress of the day over and all. KCS had been a good customer, what could it harm to humor them. They would see right away how I was no longer…a teacher.
I found Rose’s office and settled into that safe, protective space. She smiled as she looked right through me to somewhere she surely saw. Margaret, the only mentor Alabama has ever offered me, walked in and asked me something. We stopped talking 4 hours later, well, actually we still haven’t stopped talking. I left not knowing what I would teach, how we would structure it, even if I had a job for sure…but I left committed to take anything that they did open up for me and to turn down the job at UAB were it offered to me. No one asked me to do that.
I don’t think that I had the sensitivity or obedience or plain guts necessary to follow God to where He was leading me after Brickworks. I know that I didn’t. So, God sent me someone who did.