I’ve heard that memoir is all about finding the extraordinary in the ordinary; shouldn’t we live the moments of our lives that way, too?
Take car rider line duty, for example, who loves the monotony of the mundane moments in that line? I suppose sometimes I do. I’m at the front of the line, the line leader if you will. I have the responsibility of stopping and starting the flow of two long lines of traffic. In my own space, next to my own dilapidated orange cone, I am in charge of my domain, my little piece of parking lot.
This daily experience might seem ordinary to many, but given the right frame of mind, this experience can be elevated to extraordinary.
I am the recipient of a daily parade wave from one of my sixth graders, her stiff hand back and forth with a genuine ear to ear grin. I can’t help but smile. Many other driverbys offer up their waves and smiles as they leave.
I have been the recipient of a small meal, fed through a window. Please do feed the animals. I’m hungry at 4 PM. An impressive moment when a child’s aunt offered me a piping hot piece of Papa John’s pizza, untouched and fresh out of the box. “Wow, I don’t even teach you!” There was no suck up in that move–just a kind gesture. Last Friday, I enjoyed a cookie handed out a car window.
I have been the recipient of grandparent wisdom. I watch the grandparents–I love them–laid back and conversational–not at all in a hurry. I realize I have much to learn. Oh, to take my time like they do.
I have had car rider conferences giving parents a little snippet of day to help children get back on track.
I have been debriefed on life as former students behind the wheel proudly grin from ear to ear showing their driving skills. Former students as passengers and riders–give me quick updates on life and school through a window or a walk across the parking lot.
I have met future students who gaze in awe at the future at the big school and who look at me with a mixture of amusement, confusion, and uncertainty wondering if they will ever be ready for me.
Humorous moments in overheard conversations–one high schooler on his phone talking about things people just shouldn’t be tweeting. Realizing I had been privy to this conversation, the embarrassed young man almost ran over a cone.
The space and freedom at the front of the line when I look up at the blue sky and birds flying overhead.
Flipping the walkie talkie with finesse as I relive the “Cocktail” days of a job from decades ago. I wait for the walkie talkie to fall to the ground and envision my principal growling at me. I wonder if he’ll ever make me stop flipping my walkie. I chuckle to myself at the moment that I know would not go over well. So far I’m flipping 100%. Maybe, though, I should switch back to staplers–much cheaper.
Wearing the hat of traffic cop and air traffic controller I sometimes wave frantically to direct newbies to their correct places in line.
CONTROL-I stop traffic. Yes, at 47, I still stop traffic. Okay, so I have to hold out my hand and wear a look of authority, but still I stop traffic.
Seeing the extraordinary is a choice just as is living the ordinary.
In car rider line, I’m often asked about my next break and if I’m counting down the days, and you know what? I’m not. When I count the days and make the choice to live the ordinary, I know that I am missing out on what’s truly extraordinary.
When the flow of the line is smooth, when the sky is blue, when the conversation is good, when people are nice, and when I have the right disposition, these are the times the mundane and ordinary task of car rider duty becomes extraordinary.
The challenge, though, is to find the extraordinary on a day when the sky is grey, the conversations are dull, people are mean, and I’m in a bad mood. Hmmm…I might have to save that for another day.
For now, I’ll enjoy the blue sky perspective of an extraordinary existence.