Lunch time. Head out to Happy Place II and get lost in thought. The parking lot overlooks a small baseball field. My eye wanders across the field, fencing and advertisements. The grass is a faded green and brown, hallmarks of early winter.
The field has a scoreboard. It reads “Home” and “Guest”. Not sure who the home team is in this neighborhood, nor have I seen a game here. Then again, it’s winter.
Just. Like. That. My mind flashes to a memory to my preschool in San Francisco. The trigger? “Home” and “Guest”.
One day, an elderly woman waited by the front door of the preschool. She pushed the door bell. Our security cameras triggered and I looked at the monitor. “Who is that?” I thought.
Buzzing the speaker, “Yes, can we help you?”
“I’m here to make a donation,” the woman said.
Through the monitor, I could see cardboard boxes at her feet. The tell-tale sign of brightly colored plastic toys stuck out. “One moment,” I say as I buzz open the door. I walk toward the front of the school.
As I approached, the woman was walking down the steps.
“These are for the kids,” she said. Inside are various toys and puzzles.
“Okay. Thank you,” I said. I looked at (and quickly assessed) the box contents. “May I ask why you decided to make a donation?”
It’s not every day – in fact, never before – has a random person ever made a random toy donation. I need to figure out motive here. Always be cautious when concerning the kiddos.
“I use to be supervisor here,” she said. “Many years ago, I was in charge here.”
Woah! Was not expecting that.
“Oh, okay,” I said. I’m still assessing the situation here, but she seems pleasant enough. “If you want, we can carry the boxes to the office. You can follow me.”
“I know where it is,” she replied.
Well, of course. She wouldn’t check out if she didn’t know where the office was.
After a few more boxes, the woman said good-bye and left in her car. It was a weird exchange. A memorable one. Just not memorable enough to where I remember her name. Later, I assessed all the donations. Everything checked out. I mean, if you were supervisor of a preschool, you would know what would be appropriate to donate.
I drift out of the memory. Snap back to today. Sitting in my car. Overlooking the baseball field.
I’m thinking. No one remembered that woman. None of my staff. Well, at that time, all of the staff had been there for, at most, five years. Still, how weird to visit your own school where you were in charge and no one knows or has ever heard of you.
Two thoughts pop in my head.
First, preschool has an amazingly disheartening employee turnover rate. Not enough pay. Too much work. Mounting stress. People go in and out the door all the time.
Second, I’m wondering if I were to visit my old school five years after I’ve left, would anyone remember me? Maybe not. There are a few teachers that I know still work there. But, of the eight staff members that were there when I was supervisor, only three remain. And that was just in 2014.
I can only imagine if I came back with a donation in 2019. I buzz the door and say, “Yeh, I’m here to make a donation. I was a supervisor here.” I don’t know if the door buzzes open or I’m considered a weirdo and the sheriff is called. Nothing like being a “Guest” in a place you use to call “Home”.