Last week I waited in line at the PO next to an elderly gentleman who was buying a money order. Something wasn’t right so he moved to an open window where a manager could help him. I overheard their conversation-
Clerk:Who’s this for?
Gentleman:(he gave her a name)
Clerk: How do you spell that?
Gentleman:(spelled the name with some hesitation)
Clerk:What’s your name?
Gentleman: (he gave the same name)
Clerk: This is you? You’re making this out to yourself? You can’t-
Gentleman, shaking his head in confusion: No, it goes to the tax people right here. (He showed her an envelope and pointed to the address) I don’t know what all those letters say. I can’t read.
My stomach twisted as the clerk left to get a new form and start the process over. This time she was shaking her head. I felt like crying and stepping over to hug this poor man-who probably still had no idea what the problem was. My county has a high rate of illiteracy so while this is common, I can’t imagine not being able to read.
Today as I thought about things I’m grateful for, that gentleman came to mind and the ability to read was added to my lengthy list. And with that, one item of ‘reading gratitude’ led to another~
* a mom and a grandma who loved books and introduced me to reading and the library at a young age
* BOOKS! From the sublime to the really crappy 🙂
* being able to read to my children and the fun of changing my voice with each character in The Little Red Hen, and getting ‘really worried’ about There’s a Monster at the End of This Book!!
* Even after my children could read on their own, we’d crowd on the couch while I read aloud~The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Summer of the Monkeys, The Indian in the Cupboard and others
* Reading letters and cards from family and friends
* knowing that reading is the key to learning anything I want to know
* being able to conduct daily business because it’s as easy as A-B-C, easy except for those whose abc’s aren’t quite so simple.
Where does your ability to read lead you?
How moving Kim!!
Literacy Volunteers is a wonderful organization that helps by teaching those who want to learn to read, anywhere’s from teens to seniors!
Good question….where has my ability to read led me?
Even if I’m in an awkward situation (a party, at work), I can just sometimes tell people about the things I’ve read that may be pertinent to what they are interested in – Even if I say nothing else, I know that I’ve left both myself and that person a little bit “richer”, by helping them, and by helping myself to step out of “awkward” mode, even for just a moment.
Thank you, Ev. I think if I were to ever be a long-standing volunteer for a group, the group would be something like Literacy Volunteers. I love your answer to the question! Isn’t it wonderful how books can connect us and open doors to conversations and friendships?
Thanks for your moving piece on gratitude, Kim!
Thanks, Harriett. Tried to leave a comment in your backyard, but need to try again!