Selling A Dream – Where Are They Now?

Elizabeth Harper 1979

Elizabeth Harper – Woolco Department Store -1979

In 1979, I worked briefly in Woolco department store which was owned by a name you may more easily recognize as Woolworth’s. While my job title was ‘Camera Department Manager’ the only thing I had to manage beyond inventory and sales was the boredom I felt on the job everyday. (See goofing off image above)

Woolco was well into its decline when I landed there as most of its potential customers had moved on to the new malls that offered more excitement than our discounted merchandise and a long-term lay-away plans.

While I did my job well enough to receive an employment offer from a local station (religious broadcasting, as I remember it) for finding some dated equipment that they had not been able locate anywhere else, the biggest deal I closed was with two young men about my age who were passing by the camera counter during a slow day in March of 1979.

After realizing pretty quickly that they were not interested in camera gear, I remember talking about the future and what I wanted to do with my life. At that point, I was secretly considering joining the military. Having graduated early from high school and spent six months studying commercial photography by the time I’d turned 18, I was back at home with my parents while working and trying to decide what to do next.

I probably told them that I had three immediate goals which were,  to see more of the world, save money for school (University) and become independent. I can’t remember what they said or how I convinced them that three years in the army might give them opportunities they could not get by staying where they were, but by the end of our across the glass counter chat, I had talked two strangers into a life changing decision.

A few days later, they met me at the recruitment office and before anyone could say, ‘ I’ve changed my mind,’ we were all in the employ of  our Uncle Sam. I came in at a higher pay grade having earned one stripe for bringing two qualified candidates in with me which fit the requirements for the Buddy program in place at the time.

All this occurred 34 years ago this month and I can’t help but wonder how things turned out for the daring young men who joined the army after talking with me. I guess I was doing a bit of life coaching before it was trendy.

One of the things I like about Facebook and the internet is the ability to see what folks you haven’t heard from in years have done with themselves. I enjoy seeing who they’ve become, what dreams came true, and what new ones are in front of them. I wish I could remember the names of the two young men who enlisted with me so I could see if the leap they took on an afternoon in March was one that helped them live a bigger life than they had imagined possible in 1979.

I know it sounds crazy, but I thought with the internet being what is today and the way we can share information, if you could pass this along to your social network, then perhaps someone who has heard a similar story from a man, describing how a young woman with a dream talked him into a bold adventure at a camera counter on an afternoon in March … maybe I might find out how things turned out for them.

Thank you.

The Decisions Of Others

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

~ William Shakespeare

John and I had a conversation this past weekend that begin with … oh, I’m not even sure how it began, but basically it left me thinking about the impact certain decisions have on our lives and in particular, decisions made by others. In this case, I was initially referring to King Edward’s abdication of the throne of England for Wallis Simpson, the woman he loved.

I wondered aloud about how his decision had changed the life of Elizabeth who would be Queen and all of her line to follow. I thought about who Diana would have been and what kind of life she might have lived if she had said no to Prince Charles and gone on with her life.

For some reason, I found myself fixated on Queen Elizabeth and could not get it out of my head that she has spent her life in service, in what appears to have been a joyless existence with duty at the center of everything. I hope I am wrong. I hope she kicks off her heels at the end of the day and enjoys a good laugh over how hard it was to look proper and Queenly at whatever event she attended that day. I’m good with duty up to a point, but I tend to lead with my heart and I know without a doubt that had I been Edward, I would have walked away from it all too.

My crown is called content, a crown that seldom kings enjoy.

~ William Shakespeare

Crossing The River Of Uncertainty

Yesterday I watched as trucks and 4x4s braved the overflowing waters of a river on the moor near our village. Most of the larger vehicles barely hesitated although I witnessed several turn around, reluctant it seemed, to risk diving into the river’s excess that covered the road and spilled across the moor. During the twenty minutes or so that I was there taking photographs, no one driving a car was brave or crazy enough to drive into the water … except the one below.

A local couple I know drove up to snap a few photographs of their own and the husband said something that stayed with me. As he watched people press on through the water on a road they couldn’t see, he said, ” It’s not too hard if you’ve been here before and can remember where the road curves.”

What stayed with me was the idea that sometimes you just have to go forward on faith and believe that even though you may not see the road in front of you, it’s still there despite whatever may be obstructing your view.

Trying to reach the bridge.

The little engine that could.

The dog looked worried as he went past.

Going in deep.

It may look like a 4×4 here, but it’s really a small car with a roof rack.

After pausing on the bridge because the car was throwing steam, it went into the next wave of water…

…and made it safely to the other side.

Let me add here that having lived for year in San Antonio, Texas and seeing people drown by crossing water that looked like this, but was really very deadly, it is a good idea to always proceed with caution and sometimes even choose to go in a different direction to reach your destination.

I’d be interested to know if you’ve been crossing any rivers of uncertainty yourself lately and any travel tips you might like to share.