Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Influence of One Man

It was summertime and Janie, a Junior High student, took a job as an aide in a summer school program. The supervisor of the program Mr. Garcia had a meeting of all the aides in a school cafeteria. “I want to know the goal of every single one of you,” he told them. “What do you plan to do with your life?”

Janie raised her hand, “I plan to drop out of school.”

Mr. Garcia looked surprised. She had just been selected to work in an educational setting and she planned to drop out of school. It didn’t make sense. “Why do you want to do that Janie?”

“Just because. School is boring. I like to sew. If I drop out of school, I can sew for a living.”

After the meeting Mr. Garcia sat and conversed with Janie. “I like to sew better than anything else,” she told him.

“Do not quit school. I’ll talk to the counselor at your school so you can get in all the sewing you want.” And he did and Janie stayed in school.

Janie kept working in the summer but by high school she again told Mr. Garcia she was quitting so she could get a fulltime job and earn more money. Mr. Garcia had a summer job at a shoe store. He went to the manager and told him he wanted to quit but wanted the manager to hire an ambitious young woman. Janie started selling shoes in the summers.

Janie graduated from high school and then from college. Mr. Garcia felt so proud. She told me the story and I couldn’t get it out of my mind like a song with a catchy tune. In time Mr. Garcia died and many folks attended his service. I sat there and wondered how many folks at the funeral service were recipients of his advice. One man. An influence that lives on and on.

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