On a sunny day several years ago, I entered a little beauty product store. I was greeted by a beautiful young lady who was about to say goodbye to her teenage years. You hardly could claim her as a woman. You also would not testify that she was a kid. The name tag that was hanging on a ribbon from her neck was flipped backward so I couldn’t read it. She seemed to be so sad that I wanted to say something comforting and funny, but I could not see her name.
“What is your name”, I asked,” I can’t read your name tag.”
“K.”, I heard her reply. (For her privacy, I have hidden her name), “And yours?”
“ Janna”, I said cheerfully.
“Hah?” Asked K..
“Janna”, repeated I.
Hah?- ask K. again and the “Q&A” continued with the same question, and the same answer several more times. I got my business card from my purse– never can find them when needed — and let her read my name.
“O! Janna! I got it”, and the whole store could hear the exchange if there had been any customers.
“Janna. Life coach”, she read from my business card. “O, I need to talk to you.” said K..
“Gladly,” I stated. “Half an hour free consultation and I will call you and let you know when I am available.” This is my initial offer for any potential client.
“No, no,” protested K., “I need you right now…now, before somebody steps in the store. It’s very, very important!”
“ But I do not have time now. My tight schedule…”
She started screaming my name. “Janna. It’s my life! It’s very important!” exclaimed K.. “Just a minute. Just two.”
In the next several minutes I heard horror stories about her living with foster parents after they took her from an irresponsible family. We are so often talking about human trouble. O gosh! When innocent kids are involved, and you can’t do anything about it this is a different story. Even if the events happened in the past we still want to change them. But we can’t…. What can you do now, learning that the foster parents were also abusive and the kid was afraid to report the abuse. What can you do if the kid stopped believing in Santa before she was supposed to stop?
Now she was almost 18 and how she survived on her own — do not ask. What can you do if you have to live in some shack out in the boonies when the “parenting” is over How can you go to a college or work when you do not have transportation? What can you do when no one is around and only questions surround your head?
How this brave kid got from one state to another we will not reveal. But now she did not have any documents besides a social security card. That’s it. Social security card, almost no roof above her head, no car and a part-time job for seven bucks an hour. That’s it. And she had to bike to this job four or five miles in one direction and four or five miles back. Would she be able to that in Ohio’s winter?
Needless to say, my plans were ruined that day and I never regretted it. We met for a lunch the next day to talk about her unclear future. In her mind, college was out of the question. She wanted to save money and buy a house. She wanted to have a family. She wanted to have a child and give him all the love that the world can hold.
We spent our next lunch at my house cooking and talking, brainstorming about how she can reach her goals. How can you get a house and a good husband while you are in such a position? How can you think about giving to someone an unprotected life?
“This is what we’ll do. We’ll get a drivers license and this will be our first success.”
K. looked at me suspiciously : “I do not have a car. Where will I get a car to be trained?”
“No worries, K.. I’ll loan you my Camry. My friends will help you too when I am not available.”
And the training started. What a pleasure to hold the wheel and turn it in any direction pressing the gas pedal in that safe parking lot near the local church! What an excitement to make a first turn in the street! And what a reward was when the written test was passed! Three attempts and we made it! And then – the driving test! And then, right on her birthday, the shiny driver’s license is in her hand! And she is almost free!
Almost? Why almost? Because now we need to talk about a college! What a scary word this is! But not that scary. We realized that sign language interpreting would be a good choice! Sure the choice may change in a while, but let the college environment suck you in and then choose what is best for you.
Suddenly, like a thunder during sunny day:” I will not go to college. I just want to hang around and be with you. You are now like my mom.”
“ No,” I said with disappointment.” Without college this is a waste of time. We are not contributing to each other. I have better things to do,” and I left to Ukraine to publish my book.
Half a year later, upon my return home, I came back to the store where I had met K.. I was pretty sure she would not be there, and she was not. Some other young lady, her age greeted me at the counter.
”Do you happen to know anything about K., who used to work here?”
“O! Sure, I do,” said the girl.
“How is she? What is she doing now? Do you know?”
“ Yes,” the woman replied! “She is taking prerequisites for sign language interpreting at Columbus State!”
Today, five years later, she is happily married and she has a daughter, whom she is giving all the love the world can hold.