I was recently assigned to set up an informational table at a local event. As I arrived at 7:15 a.m., I was surprised to walk into the gym walked into the gym to find dozens of providers already set up and ready to welcome the incoming clients. Since the doors had not officially opened yet, almost 100 clients were already lining up outside!
I searched for the table that was supposed to be mine, but I didn’t see it. One of the organizers must have noticed my look of dismay, so he asked if he could help me. I told him the name the table should have been under, he looked at his clipboard and said “Oh! Your table is downstairs! Follow me!”
“Okay!” I said as I gathered up my display board, signs, handouts, coffee and bamboo plant (I usually have a plant on my table when I do tabling events. Most organizations have candy. I have a plant.) I know. I'm strange.
I followed the man to the elevator where we traveled one floor down to the basement. “This way!” he said as he made his way down the dimly lit corridor. As we walked further and further I thought: “Am I going to be able to find my way out of here? Should I have dropped breadcrumbs so I can get back to the elevator?” We finally arrived at my assigned table, and once he pointed it out, he disappeared.
The other three providers in the room said hello and asked if I needed help setting up. I thanked them but said I could do it on my own. A few minutes later, I was all set up and ready to go. I had planned to show a slideshow of our volunteers and past events, so I was setting that up on my laptop when a woman blew into the room like a tornado.
“Where is MY table?” she asked the same man who had so joyfully led me downstairs a few minutes earlier.
“Right there,” he said, pointing to right where I was sitting. “You’re taking one half of the table and she (meaning me) is taking the other.”
“WHAT?” she huffed. “First you bring me to a dungeon and then I don’t even have a whole table to myself?”
The man’s face dropped and he turned away from her. “Have a nice day!” he said as he disappeared again.
I immediately stood up and began to move my things to make room for hers. Just as I moved to the end of the table to adjust my laptop, I felt the table moving toward me. The woman was furiously pushing the table over so that she would have more room for her things. What she didn’t know was that the table was literally on its last leg, so it immediately collapsed onto my ankles and feet, sending all of its contents (aka MY STUFF) crashing onto the floor.
My pumpkin Dunkin Donuts coffee? Spilled.
My laptop? On the floor, but luckily it was okay.
My lucky bamboo plant? Crushed and emptied of it’s dirt. It’s little leaves were broken and scattered all over the floor. So much for good luck!
As the table came crashing down on me, the woman gasped. “Oh my GOD! She said. “I am so sorry! I didn’t mean to do that!”
I didn’t respond, because I knew she had pushed the table because she was upset. I don't think anticipated the table falling over. As I began to pick everything, my fellow providers rushed over to help as well.
Camille from City Hall ran to find some lysol wipes to wipe up the dirt.
Corey from the Consumer Affairs office in Boston grabbed paper towels.
Within a few minutes, the table was upright again. The woman didn’t say another word. She simply finished setting up her brochures.
I know she was disappointed about being placed in a basement room when she expected to be placed upstairs where all of the activity was happening. I felt the same way! But instead of huffing and puffing and blowing tables over, I set up my materials and made a few new friends (Namely: Corey and Camille).
A couple of hours after I arrived, one of my volunteers came downstairs and said “What are you doing down here? Your table is supposed to be upstairs!” He helped me pack everything up and then showed me where I could set up upstairs. I was able to spend the rest of the day where all the action was happening! No more basement dwelling for me.
And the women who made all the ruckus? She remained where she complained, and she (nor her table helpers) never left her basement quarters.
What was my lesson in this moment?
Scripture: As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good... — Genesis 50:20(a) NASB:
I hope you have the most amazing weekend ever!
her daddy’s brother was black like coal
like Michelin tires, like tar on blacktops,
draped like midnight, slick like motor oil
dripping hot every night she’d
sleep over with her cousin
onto her cot, breathing
in her ear,
called her babygirl
she never told
just buried it
deep in her heart, promised
one day she’d run so far from black that she’d
never go back
she found and married
a man as white as snow
with skin like porcelain
like angel wings, like vanilla ice cream
just so her kids would be light-bright
with no need for afro sheen
with skinny braids too thin to house clickclack beads,
Blue Magic hair grease
banned from her bathroom cabinets, she promised
she’d run so far from black that she’d
never have to go back,
naming her children
Sarah and Dylan and Meghan and Jack,
the ache to bake cornbread with cracklin’s
ignored the itch in her hands to stand at the kitchen counter cutting collard greens
she secretly hopes her children
will also seek white like she did,
they’ll also have light bright children who one day
won’t need hair grease,
who one day
won’t want chicken fried crisp in Crisco
she hopes to wash the black away, someday.
hopes to wash the black away,
(C) 2017 Crystal Senter-Brown
A prayer for mothers who are parenting alone
Heavenly Father, please bless my sister as she balances motherhood, work, school, church activities and home so perfectly.
Lord help her to build lifelong relationships with Godly people who will lift her up and encourage her instead of tearing her down with blaming nods and looks. Let her know how much you love her!
Give my sister the strength to work hard and the determination to follow the path You have created for her. May she be encouraged to finish school and (if it is Your will) to complete her college degree as well. Make her home comfortable and welcoming to all who visit, and allow it to be peaceful place she can retreat to after a long day.
Lord, please bless her with understanding and patient friends that will encourage her to always do the right thing! If marriage is what she wants for her future, surround her with married couples that will serve as examples of what a lasting and loving marriage looks like.
Lord, please help my sister to be a good steward of the income you have blessed her with. Help her to make smart financial decisions that will allow her to live comfortably, provide for her children and leave a legacy for her family. Help her to be a joyful giver to her church and to her community.
Lord, if marriage is what she wants for her future, help my sister to prepare for the husband YOU have chosen for her and help her to be okay with being alone for now. Help her to focus on raising her children, being a community leader and serving You.
Lord, let my sister know to turn to You for her every need instead of turning to destructive habits such as alcohol, drugs, excessive shopping, self-harm, over-eating or toxic relationships. Help my sister to honor her body as a temple created by You.
And finally, Lord, help my sister to have a healthy and stress-free relationship with her child’s father, even if they are no longer together. May she always be treated with respect by her child’s father and everyone she meets.
In Jesus’ name, Amen
Written by Crystal Senter Brown
Mama. Wife. Poet. Teacher. Maniac.