When the youngest of our boys reached the age of 7, I knew I had to get out of the house, had to go back to work….at least part-time.
I got really lucky. In front of my very eyes appeared an opportunity to start an organization to help women return to the work-force. So I got to return to the work-force and help others do the same….what could be better?
The funding came together and we gathered a staff of three. We were armed and ready to go.
Then the phone rang. It was the government calling. They had a deal for us.
If we took their money, we would, in return, help primarily poverty-level women.
We would also hire a fourth person, a counselor, and she would be of their choosing. Strings. Many strings. But we accepted the deal. It would ensure the organization’s viability and our salaries.
We inquired about the “new hire.” What was her background, her education? Where did she last work?
We were told that she had not worked for the last four years. Really? Why not?
The answer was simple, if not alarming. She’d been in a medium-security prison and was just being released.
Well, we said. What else was there to say? We were told that she would be joining us the next Monday at 9 am and that would be that.
We caucused. How do we manage this? We need to welcome her…whether we want to or not. What should we wear? We don’t want to intimidate her with our newly-acquired working-women’s clothes but we don’t want to be too informal either. We agreed not to wear stripes. We were, collectively, more than a little apprehensive.
Monday morning arrived. We waited. At 9 am on the dot she walked in the door….all 5 feet 9 inches of her. And that was before the three-inch heels she wore no matter the weather. Her hair was pulled back in a chignon, perfect make-up, pencil-slim skirt, smart white blouse, slender as a reed except where she shouldn’t be. Seems she’d also done time in Paris. On the fashion runways.
Her smile was easy. Her hello warm and gracious. In a nano-second, we went from we-three to our-four. And we stayed that way for ten years.
Oh, by the way, the “crime” she did four years for was a victimless one…..today she would get a gentle slap on the wrist. But that’s another story.