A 3-In-1 Update

Gratitude Posts #5 – #7

I got lazy and missed updates for Sunday and Monday so today’s update comes in three parts to cover today and the two days that I missed.

family transportI’m grateful for the various modes of transportation that I have relied on throughout my life. From the sometimes showy taxi’s and buses of Samoa to the trains, subways and personal vehicles I use on any given day, each of these are a necessity for me and the various activities and responsibilities that I have to attend to day in and day out. As much as I often loathed queuing up and boarding the early morning ferry between Upolu and Savaii, there was something nostalgic about ocean spray in my face and the unpredictable rhythm of the waves.

And what would we do without airplanes? My first ever experience traveling aboard a plane was a child when we made our very first trip to Hawaii and then eventually to Samoa. I recall the exhilirating rush of being launched into the atmosphere, the clinking of glasses as the flight attendants served up drinks and an inflight meal. I remember the hot, heavy air of Samoa when we arrived at our final destination at Faleolo and the cabin door was flung open to the sights and sounds of an unfamiliar, inviting island paradise.

I’ve been fortunate to spend much of my time traveling abroad and seeing the different ways that transportation has been a blessing to me and to others. I’m grateful for modern transportation, for those who work in the travel or services industries as well as manufacturers of automobiles – I love my truck and cars!

Good shoes
I’m grateful for transporation because without it I’d be walking all over God’s green earth and it would take me a lot longer to get anywhere without it. But if I had to, I would and I have. And walking is a lot easier when you have a good pair of shoes.

imelda marcos shoes
Imelda Marcos’ three thousand pairs of shoes are now housed in a Philippine museum

This may sound trivial to those who have dozens, maybe even hundreds of pairs of shoes. I recall a story as a youth about the wife of a former Phillipine President who had so many shoes that there were closets and sheds dedicated to housing her shoes. I remember thinking how utterly absurd this seemed because all I had at the time was a pair of worn basketball shoes, a single pair of dress shoes that were reserved for Sunday worship and my flip flops which were used for everything except church and basketball!

If you’re a Samoan kid, your flip-flops (se’evae tosotoso) are your best friend, your prized possession and sometimes even a status symbol. They came in all shapes, sizes and colors but no matter how large you wrote your name on them, if you lost sight of them for a split second you’ve lost them forever.

These days a pair of shoes can be bought with as little as $10-$15 or as much as hundreds of dollars. I’m more of a function not fashion guy so when I buy a pair of shoes it’s an investment not a fad. This goes back to my days in Samoa when you cherished the thin layers of rubber between the soles of your feet and the blacktop, the concrete, the mud and whatever else you were tracking around on the bottom of your shoes. I’ve learned to be grateful for a good pair of shoes because there are some who have never worn any their entire life.

The Cleaning Lady
I have a soft spot in my heart for the cleaning lady. I don’t know her name but I do know that she takes a lot of pride in her work. I do my best to keep my area at work clean because there was a time when my parents subsidized their income by cleaning office buildings when we were growing up. I watched as they went from their full-time jobs to their part time jobs as office cleaners, sometimes working late into the night in order to make sure that we were provided for and that there was always a roof overhead.

cleaning lady 1I don’t know the cleaning lady’s story but if I were to guess, she’s doing whatever it takes to provide for her family. I’m guessing that there are children who depend on her to bring home an income so that they can wear warm clothes in the winter or have a good meal while they are studying or participating in their extra curricular activities.

The cleaning lady, for me, is a symbol of endurance, perseverance and humility. While we arrive at our desks and log on to our computers, she is scrubbing, cleaning and vacummuing. While we complain about trivial things like the fluctuating temperature in the office and the slow Internet access, she is hauling off our trash to the dumpster and cleaning the toilets and spills we make in the break room. She does this quietly and without and audible complaint because she knows she needs this job to keep the lights on at home.

I’m grateful to my parents who made the same sacrifices for me and my siblings. I’m grateful to the nameless cleaning lady who reminds me daily through her actions that I am blessed and very fortunate to be living a dream.

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