Friday afternoon in the Plover public ladies’ room, I noticed a young woman lingering at a sink. I observed her going through a pile of clothing from her backpack, odor testing by holding each article up to her nose. The woman was planning to do her laundry in one of the sinks and perhaps take a sponge bath. I had noticed the distinct smell of body odor when I first entered.
In the Mendocino Staff Parking Lot, I avoided gazing at two less fortunate men who occupied the retaining wall of the adjacent taquería. With his back to traffic, one man relieved himself against the wall of the restaurant.
“Live and let live” is my motto. I try not to feel offended. I have gratitude for my classified position—support for my family through the downs of a ten-year employment struggle for my husband. No COLA to help keep us out of debt. I struggle as an educated woman because I’m on the precipice of a situation where we could find ourselves without a place to wash our clothes, bathe or privately go to the bathroom. Humility versus dignity.
Witnessing these situations gnaws at my dignity. I’m resigning to a life of austere purpose—merely working for the paycheck that supports every last drop of my family’s needs—a redefining of my understanding of humility.
I am blessed to be working at a beautiful campus. However, the effects of this economy breed distractions from my capacity for joy. Nevertheless, I try to remain open to any influence of better living and being. I hurt just enough from witnessing the injustice to brave putting these words to paper and I wish there was more I could do.