12/19/08

Connections--the deeper kind undefined.


I wish I could write about a bird I’ve seen recently, but I’ve been inside the chocolate factory working all day, all week. I’m going home this weekend, and we have birdfeeders, so if they haven’t migrated yet, I might write about the little gold finches that, upside down, pluck the tiny seeds out of the feeders with their beaks.

I’ve decided to write something anyway, just something fun to share (as if I haven’t posted enough on here, sorry). And, it has nothing to do with my previous anonymity.

At the chocolate factory I work with old ladies that have perfect rosy circles for blush on their cheeks, and the same pinkish lipstick, if it’s not bright red to match their Christmas sweaters. And I love all of them. I call them the chocolate ladies.

I explained to one lady that I had worked on the other side of the store (twisting pretzels and scooping custard) and she replied: “Could you even see over the counter back then? You’re just a shorty.”

The main lady always has the same reply to the customers’ questions that sound like: “So are you a granddaughter?” Her responses are variations of “No, but she could be! My Jordon’s coming home from his mission soon.” (It’s a little awkward, but that’s a whole other story. Maybe it could be a twist to the Momance if I decide to share more of it later.)

But my favorite lady is Marka. I worked two days with her without knowing her name; then I finally asked my boss. Marka is from Germany; she is younger (45 maybe?) and doesn’t wear make up. She doesn’t need it. Every morning she says “Goot morn-ning, Katie, how are you?” And her accent is soft.

The first day (I didn’t even know her) when I was in her way, she teasingly slapped the back of my hair and made it flip up as if to say “Excuse me!” Other times when I’m in her way she’ll spurt out: “Retreat!” or “AttenTION!” It sounds military to me, yet hers is always a rough, soft, playful voice.

She fills the chocolate trays faster than we can sell them. Whenever she comes to the front counter where I work, she starts talking quietly, making quiet jokes. (Not like Matty, because his quiet hilarity is more intentional.) It’s like she’s just starting to learn what Americans joke about, or their idioms, and she laughs in rough spurts until I get her joke. Then, due to my laughter, she laughs harder knowing I understood, and that she was understood.

Today as I knelt on the store’s floor behind the candy counter to pack a large box of chocolates (they were on the lower shelf) she said to the cashier: “Katie is very down to earth.” Ha. Get it? She used one of our idioms as a joke. She jokes often, and her attempts amuse me.

I have a tendency to think that people with accents aren’t as smart because they can’t speak our language ‘right.’ But I know this is faulty, and I’m pushing past that first inclination. Marka is smart, and is more of a person as I get to know her. She has just started to share bits of her life with me.

There’s something about her and that has created one of those connections I can’t explain. I’ll be sad when we both stop working after Christmas. I don’t know if I can explain what I mean or feel. Beside a fun story, did I tell you enough to show that there’s a connection there? But I want to know what that connection is that comes when you get to know people. What is that connection that makes it hard to say goodbye, even though you’ve known them for only one semester (like WC assistants)? That connection that is an feeling which produces an inner binding with you and someone just because both have something in common. Eventually it builds. It creates a linking that…….Something. Specific. Blank. I keep searching for a definition. What is it? I can’t describe it. The best I can do is what I posted on an earlier post of Brittany’s. “The glue that holds you together is some incomprehensible, spiritual adhesive.” But there I meant good friends, and note the incomprehensible part. Does anyone understand?

22 comments:

Katie said...

Corrections: first sentence in last paragraph: delete the first 'and.' AND, 'a feeling' not 'an feeling.' Okay. I will sleep better tonight. From now on, how about I trust you all (and *ahem* Chandler) will look past the spelling mistakes, and take the thoughts for what their worth? Great.

Shani said...

In China there were these people who ran a little restaurant. These people were willing to listen to our often broken Chinese, and try to understand us and help us, while other places would just stare at us or try to push random things at us. These people lit up when we walked in, and treated us like we were actually people, instead of either celebrities or freaks like we grew accustomed to. They were the only Chinese adults that we actually became friends with.

Anyway, when we left the country it was very sudden, and they were the only people we got to say goodbye to. My husband gave one of the younger guys his favorite hat, and we got a couple pictures with them. That was the only time I cried. I've almost cried when I've thought about my students I didn't get to say goodbye to, but having to look those restaurant people in the eye and say I didn't know if I'd be back (though I knew at that point I wouldn't) was really difficult. Half of our communication had been through hand gestures, but there was an incredible bond there. I'm with you, Katie, in that I don't know how to describe it, but it's a deep understanding that just WAS. Kindred spirits? I don't know. I just pray that someday when they have the opportunity they'll accept the gospel, and our friendship can be renewed in the eternities.

Matthew R. Hall, Esq. said...

Today, as my sister made her purchase at Old Navy, I noted that the cashier seemed to be bundled up, though inside--he wore a black hooded sweatshirt, hood up and a scarf around his face. For a moment, I debated whether to make a dumb joke or just leave him alone. Finally, I spoke.

"Looks like you're getting ready for cold weather."

"Yeah, I'm actually just hiding how unhappy I am today."

"Well, it's working--you seem happy enough."

"Oh, thanks. Is this credit?" he asked my sister. She nodded.

"I was actually up in Salt Lake a few days ago and it was pretty cold," I said.

"How was the weather?"

"Snowy and cold. But I drove down early enough where I beat the storm and snow the entire way through Vegas and all. You know, that storm that closed the Cajon Pass? I was luck enough to miss it."

"Wow, that was cool. You want the receipt in the bag?" At this time he was smiling and the lady in line behind me was easing forward.

"Yeah, sounds great. Well hey, have a great night."

"You too. Happy holidays."

As I walked away I had that "I love people" feeling.

You know how Holden Caulfield wants to just be this guy who sits in a field and saves kids from going over the edge of a cliff? I want my job to be just going around and talking to people and being friendly and maybe helping their day go a little bit better.

Katie said...

That's neat, Matt.

Britt said...

Hey Matt,
(I bet you knew that if you dropped Holden Caufield's name I would have something to say and I do). Ok so may I semi-publicly compliment you on something?

(I really am going to wait for your permission)

Sky said...

I can't wait to hear what Britt wants to ask Matt. And Matt, is it at all possible to transfer this attitude to the students you work with at the Center?

Katie, I loved your description of Marka. Wow. I know I would love this woman. She sounds so softly beautiful. And you saw KEITH URBAN? The main thing I love about that Australian songster is his guitar playing. I hate watching performers who hold a guitar and can't really play it, and he can really play! If you go again, can I go too?

I call these connections "links" because we get tied together by them, which means Matt will never ever get rid of us for eternity. Hahahahahhhhh. Too bad, Matt.

Isn't that a cool piece from Steph? I loved her from the beginning, even though I knew I was always confusing the heck out of her.

And it is not polite to speak of the dead or call people "Old ladies" because you're going to be one someday too ('old' not dead, though you'll be dead someday also), and don't drive down my lane, or you'll get so stuck. But I do adore dark chocolate, and, by the way, I went to bed at 10:30 last night to earn my piece of chocolate--eat your heart out, Crystal. However, I did not GET to sleep until 1:00, so we'll forget that, since it was sort of agonizing.

Crystal said...

Katie, I wish I could have gotten to know you. I know technically I met you, but 5 minutes isn't long enough to know someone (generally).
I love this post, and your description of the birds and the women who wear the same lipstick.
My aunt Rosa always wore bright pink lipstick.

Sis. Morgan, what about Brad Paisley? I saw him in concert once, and he does amazing things with guitars. (Not that I'm knocking Keith Urban, but you have to admit his marrying Nicole Kidman makes him slightly suspect.)

And I'm not telling what time I went to bed. But it wasn't my fault.

Sky said...

I don't know why I don't like B.P. as well (Don't let Travis hear me say that), since he does play well--very well. Maybe it's my hipster guilt over loving so much country now. (Beau throws aware all my country CDs every time he comes home, bless his heart; he thinks they'll hurt my brain, but I even like Dwight Yokum's Honky Tonk Man Video. It's probably from going to too many rodeos.)

Matthew R. Hall, Esq. said...

Yeah Britt, ask away or comment away or whatever it is you'd like to say.

But for your information, Sis. Morgan, I DO try to do this with most of my patrons and especially those with crummy days. I just don't advertise it.

Katie said...

If I ever go again, you're invited.

And, I can't wait to have wrinkles. They'll all come from laughing and smiling. "Old ladies" is like a friendly endearment...

Well, I did drive down your lane, and didn't get stuck. Unfortunately you weren't there, but Patch was barking at me and my little brothers like crazy.

Katie said...

A link that just IS. I can accept that for now. Crystal, I agree; 5 minutes is not nearly long enough.

Sky said...

Katie, I FOUND your chocolates. Wow. One had deep black chocolate around an almond, inside milk chocolate that rivaled anything I've eaten from France--although I wasn't looking at the Louvre when I ate all of them. Why didn't you come in? I had TV on and earphones in because, pre-family-coming, it's too quiet here--thought I adore quiet normally. Just open the door and come in. Thank you so much.

Matt, I hate sentences that open with "For your information blah blah"--you dork.

Britt said...

So Matt, I'm not sure why Sister Morgan thinks that you don't try to make people happy at the Writing Center. It's probably my fault. Maybe I need to be a little more vocal about the good things you do instead of chewing you out so much. That is partly why I wanted to compliment you. I realized something about you after getting to know you all semester and after I read your comment. I noticed that although you may come off as egotistical whenever you prove a point or something, you really are a perceptive person. I think you know a lot of stuff about people that they haven't told you. And even though you can seem cynical, deep down I don't think you are. I think you care about people, it was just a little hard for me to see at first.
When you said that you wanted to be a variant of The Catcher in the Rye I can attest that you already are. I can think of one time in particular when you were extremely helpful. I'm sure you know what I am talking about. You definitely made my day go better and I think that that kind of kindness is most Christ-like.

iBo said...

Katie, I thought about speaking with a really bad accent to do sessions to make patrons feel really nervous about having me look at their paper. Now that I think about it, I think it'd be hilarious to teach an FDENG 101 class and pretend I don't speak English well.

You're right when you say that we assume someone isn't as smart because they don't speak as well as we do. Maybe that's why I want to mess with people like that.

Sky said...

That's not funny, Ivor.

And Britt, WHEN DID I SAY THAT I DON'T THINK MATT TRIES TO MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY AT THE CENTER????

Geez, I feel so dang misunderstood on this here blogwogsmoglog. But, whatever you MISunderstood, at least it instigated a nice response from Britt to Matt, whom, I thought, were going to be enemies. So there. Good.
Fine.

Katie, I love this bracelet. It's so hipsterish. I'm never taking it off.

Chan said...

Were you supposed to leave suddenly, Shan, or...?

Chan said...

Leave China suddenly, I should specify that since I'm replying to a comment at the top of the column.

Shani said...

No, Chan, we were not supposed to leave suddenly. Our experience in China was much different from most, and eventually neccessitated a quick departure, aided by the U.S. embassy.

iBo said...

See they killed a man that was actually a head of a Taiwanese terrorist group plotting to overthrow the stability of the Chinese government, and in a series of more-amazing-than-the-movies gunfights they escaped the terrorists, and finally eluded them in a holy-cow-that-was-the-most-amazing car chase on the Beijing freeways and get on a helicopter provided by the US embassy and were flown safely to a submarine that was waiting in Hong Kong harbor which took them back to America.

Sky said...

hahahahha...seriously, Shan, why did you have to leave so suddenly? It does sound mysterious and dangerous.

Katie said...

Yay! I’m glad you loved the chocolates. See how rewarding it is to go to bed early?

Sister Morgan, I tried to come in. The door was locked. I rattled the door knob forever, and wiggled the string attached to that bell, and knocked like an eager missionary until I was standing at your front door for about five minutes, maybe longer. I even yelled: “Sister Morgan! It’s me!” I had my little brothers with me, and they were shaking because it’s so darn cold! And they were too stubborn to wait in the car while I knocked. I will climb in one of your windows next time, or come down the chimney.

Ivor, I’m glad you have a sense of humor, but I’m not sure you’d keep your job if you messed with your students for pure entertainment. By the way, if you didn’t read one of my previous responses, I’m glad you’re in CANADA not DETROIT.

Sister Morgan, here’s the story: I love to bead, and as I was beading at my home in Rigby, I found seashell beads (real seashells just with holes in them, of course) and had to make one for you. All the colors seemed to go well together. Glad you like it. Does it fit well enough? (That’s why I made it stretchy.) I can resize it.
So if I can’t overuse my exclamation points, I’m going to use all caps. How’s that? Because I NEED to put the emphasis where it’s due.

Chan said...

Yeah, Shani, what's the scoop? Did you guys give away a Book of Mormon or something? They don't like that, so I hear.