The Edmond Sun

April 19, 2013

Those who find their way into our hearts define ‘coolness’

Marjorie Anderson
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — “I was into that when it wasn’t cool.” I heard that on the radio in the church parking lot last Sunday morning. Interesting quote. I jotted it down on an envelope I found in the console. I do that now and then … jot down bits and pieces of what I hear. More often, though, my jotting comes from jarring snippets I find in the books I read. Later I run across those bits of paper between the pages of a book; in a drawer or a pocket, and sometimes in the bottom of my purse. What’s this? I think as I puzzle over those hastily scribbled words until, Oh, yes. Now I remember.

I was a secretary when it wasn’t cool with my mom for young ladies — certainly not her daughter — to work outside the home. Poor me. I was into coffee toting, phone answering, typing and shorthand back when that job description qualified me to apply for such a position, and I performed those services for seven of the best years of my life.

If I were doing that sort of work today (except for the coffee toting, of course), the nameplate on my desk would read Administrative Assistant. Now that's progress! Maybe Mom would have thought working outside the home was cool if the job had come with a title.

But nothing would have convinced her those many years later that the Maintenance Engineer duties (aka janitorial services) that my co-worker Mary Beth and I performed in those months after school was out for the summer were cool. I told Mom that my fellow faculty members fought for those positions in order to augment their teacher retirement benefits, but mostly for us, because Mary Beth and I enjoyed each other's company.

“But what will the better people think?” Mom asked. It was all I could do not to tell her that Mary Beth and I were the better people. Besides, an unexpected bonus — aside from the pleasure of working in sparkling classrooms — was that the students who janitored alongside us did think we were cool. So did the classmates they told, and the following school year opened with a better understanding among us.

I’d intended to finish this column with observations on a snippet I ran across in a book I’d read last month, but that was before 8-year-old Martin Richard was one of three who died in Monday's Boston massacre — — and after that I couldn’t write at all.

“No more hurting people,” he had written on a poster almost a year earlier, and then “Peace” flanked by two hearts. Pray God there will come a time when Richard's plea will be cool worldwide.  

MARJORIE ANDERSON is an Edmond resident.