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Saturday, July 02, 2016

An Email To An Out Of Work Middle Aged Woman

Place: eighth place in Creative Writing

By Miriam B. Medina

Dear Mel,

I think I was 18 years old, maybe 17, when I got my first job. It was in a shop that only serviced 18 wheel trucks. I was a parts clerk. When I had walked in my first day, the place reeked of gas and oil. They gave me a uniform and immediately threw me into work I didn’t understand. I remember my first day, when I was confused: all these parts had indexes and numbers and cubbyholes and I didn’t know one from another. I had to find the right parts and then drive the trucks them to stores.. I was totally lost. I didn’t know any of the parts or any of the places—and the delivery truck was a stick whereas I barely knew how to drive an automatic.

But the gas and oil smelled like freedom. A way to a paycheck. School was over and I was determined to get through all this scary stuff. I blustered my way through to noon and then it was my job to fetch lunch for the mechanics and my boss and all the guys in the shop. They sent me to a corner deli to pick up corned beef sandwiches, mine with extra horseradish and spicy mustard. We all sat down to eat, where I was intimidated and starved and confused by the first 4 hours of my adult working life inhaled the sandwich. It was the best thing I ever tasted. I EARNED that sandwich, so hot it gave me heartburn. To this day, it may be the best thing I ever tasted.

To my surprise, the guys all laughed at my reaction and accepted me and I became THE parts clerk of Larkin Equipment. Once I gained confidence in myself I never looked back. It wasn’t the greatest job or the greatest sandwich but both were mine. Now I knew I could survive in a world that wasn’t fair, that wasn’t a cinch.

When I read your entry in our writing contest, at first I thought, “those years, 49, living fine then losing your job, no income and all the bills coming due with no money left to pay them. There are too many stories like this these days. But then, rereading your submission, I felt like I did years ago. I smelled the grease and the gas. I heard the guys snickering behind my back before they accepted me. I could taste it all, the delicious food and my horrible pain.

Though you may not know it, you are growing from your experience of pain. I am sad to say that you did not win the contest and the $100 shopping spree. Your story did not fit the parameters of our contest. I am more than happy, however, to enclose a check for $500 to purchase the story you sent for publication. It is worth more than that but is all we can afford for one story. But I am offering you a regular job as a full- time contributor at $500 a week. I am sure you will prove me right, because something about you, metaphorically of course, tastes like a $5 corned beef sandwich, hard-earned, with just the right amount of horseradish for flavor. Congratulations.

Managing Editor,
Dave

Melanie framed the letter and her overdue rent bill right above her desktop where she wrote her stories. She never missed a deadline, and never fell behind on a bill again.

(c) Miriam B. Medina