This came to me while thinking of a scene in my life that occurs to me often.
I was working at a privately owned drug store about 45 minutes away from home. I still lived at home with my parents. I took the job for the pay, even though it was in an area I wasn’t familiar with.
It snowed a lot that winter and each time it did, the roads were scary, slippery and dangerous. But I made every effort to get to work each time, even though I would’ve been quite justified to stay home.
I was terrified to get fired. My boss was the kind who made it obvious that it was not OK to be late. And so calling out for snow made me afraid. After all, just because it was bad on the little back road I lived on, didn’t mean it was bad out there on the main roads. I felt obligated to get there.
One particularly bad morning, I went outside to clear off my car after I’d gotten ready for work. Bundled up in winter gear, I grabbed a shovel and ice breaker from the garage. The snow on my car had hardened to ice.
It didn’t occur to me to start the car to get it warmed up, but I couldn’t open the door anyway. Both of them were frozen shut. I remember the distress and panic I felt about being late. I can remember so well my body tightening with the stress and fear of getting that car to a point that I could get in, start it up and drive it to work.
No one came to help. Not anyone from my family came to help me clean off my car, not a single neighbor came out to tell the naive young me, that if I can get the door open, I can get in and start it up, get the heat and defroster running, then the ice and snow will melt faster.
No one tried to stop me. No one said, the roads are too bad, please don’t drive to work.
I swung the ice breaker, teeth clenched, face red, to chip away at the snow and ice. I had to hurry. I would be late and my boss would be mad. And if he fired me, my mother would be angry and disappointed too.
I didn’t know that it circled back to my mother at the time, but throughout the years of looking back into my past, I have come to understand this.
I tracked this back to a time when I’d been let go from a job for reasons I thought were not fair. My mother picked me up that day and I told her what happened and the reason they gave me for letting me go. The look of disappointment in her eyes and on her face crushed me. She only cared that her daughter had failed, not that I was sad about losing a job or that I felt treated unfairly.
I know now that the underlying reason I made a point to get to any job let alone that one almost an hour away, was because I couldn’t bear my mother’s disappointment in me. I couldn’t bear to be the disappointment I already felt that I was.
The memory of chipping away at the ice on my car is a composite of a few different incidents that winter, since we got a lot of snow that year. One particular morning, I got stuck on a main, four lane highway that I decided to take, thinking that would be the better option. It was a mess.
Somehow I got to a phone and called a friend who had a Jeep type of vehicle. This was before cell phones and I do not remember where I called from. But she came out and got me, took me to work and then drove away.
As I walked through the door of the drug store, I was told they were getting ready to close the store.