I work the lunch shift at a cafe in a small town just off the interstate. It's fun, it's a nice place to work and I'm home before the kids come home from school.
Because it's off the interstate, we get lots of people who are travelling through headed west to Denver or even Los Angeles, or grandparents driving back home to Omaha after visiting their kids out in Kearney or Scottsbluff.
The other day I served two young women who were driving out to San Francisco. They started in Chicago. One of them was going out there to stay and the other was along for the ride and would fly back home once they got there. They were on a budget, they split a special. The girl moving to SF was worried that she was moving their without having landed a job yet. I quickly replied, "That's what Temp Agencies are for."
When I was young I never had a job lined up when I moved to a new city. Right after Jon and I got married and we moved to St. Louis my first order of business was to register at a Temp Agency. I got called in to do a job just a few days later and that's how I got my secretary job that I kept for two years.
The work was not my calling. That's where I was the day the planes hit those buildings. We didn't have a television in our maze of grey cubicles and so we heard the news on the radio. It was so confusing. First there was a report of a plane having crashed into a building in NYC, then another one, then there was a report of a plane crashing into the Pentagon and one crashing into a field. The internet wasn't great back then and so we couldn't get better information online because of the overload of traffic.
My co-workers and I sat in front of that radio absolutely stunned like it was some kind of sick joke. None of us ventured out to find more news, none of us left the building. In an effort to piece a story together, we wondered where a plane would crash next, we wondered if we were a target because we worked near the human genome laboratory. I only saw the images on television when I went home that night. I don't remember much about that day except being in that office listening to the news at a job that I did not like. I probably cried at some point.
The day I really remember crying was back a couple years earlier when my college roommates and I watched the Columbine massacre. That's the day I remembering crying for something lost. Maybe I didn't cry on 9/11 because whatever we lost was already gone in my mind.
Fourteen years later I wait tables and meet people passing through. It's a great way to feel part of a larger country when you don't just meet local farmers, but parents taking their kids to college in Michigan and families roadtripping to Philadelphia. It's funny, but America passes by my cafe and when we meet each other it feels good. Today's a day to do just that.