MichaelI'm an admittedly shy person. I struggle with it and work to push past it but it is part of me and keeps me from doing things that I'd like to do or should do. At times I won't let it. And usually if I do-I'm the better for it. Safety nets help. Props like a guitar to hold while singing or a dog with me to initiate a conversation and break the ice, or my baking. No, this isn't a baking blog (well partly but mostly not).
Months ago, when the fuel prices started jumping, a local TV station did a segment at the P&R (park&ride)-I'm guessing to talk to riders about changes in their daily commute due to prices. Our bus ran too early for the segment but the riders were lucky enough to reap the rewards without the interviews. The news-folks gave away free umbrellas (always useful in Oregon) and free chocolate chip cookies (from a local bakery). I noted how everyone enjoyed them so much and what a transition came over the normally low-key 5:30 AM riders. They laughed, they talked-their whole day seemed brighter. I made a mental note to bring cookies from time to time to give their morning an occasional boost of fun. Weather, other baking projects, light-ridership in the summer with many vacations, etc. have kept me from my promise.
One of the regular bus-riders got a new job. His new job eliminates the need to ride the bus downtown. He can ride his motorcycle directly to work, park for free, and start work later without the time needed to commute back and forth to a P&R. He mentioned last week that his last day on the bus would be today and he'd start the new job on Monday. I decided then I would use his transition and celebration to motivate me to make those cookies. I didn't realize at the time that it would be so hot this week. My kitchen is hovering around 80+ degrees most of the time. I felt a lack of enthusiasm to bake cookies last night but I pushed myself to get up and do it and survived (a little drained and overheated but none the worse for wear). My shy side was struggling-would he think it weird or awkward or enjoy it? Would he catch the earlier bus (common with him) and I'd miss him altogether? I packed the cookies in small paper sacks like the bakeries use-2 to a sack (yes, DBCC cookies but let's not get distracted) and stored them in large zip-lock bags. I figured if it didn't work out, I could bring them home and ship them to a co-worker I plan to send cookies to anyway.
When I got to the P&R, I was happy to see he didn't catch the early bus. Now, warring with my shyness, I went up and wished him a good morning and dove in. I stuck out my hand and said "my name is Linda-we've never been introduced and shared names". He took my hand and said "my name is Michael". I proceeded to tell him I brought cookies for his last day to celebrate his "retirement" from the bus-stop. He got a great laugh off of it but seemed to appreciate the cookies. We talked about his current job, his soon-to-be-ex-coworkers, his new job, etc. Gradually new riders drifted up. I pushed down my shyness again and went up to each and said "Michael is starting a new job on Monday and we are celebrating his retirement as a bus-rider with chocolate chip cookies-if you would like some". One rider turned me down-thinking he would have to eat them immediately until I told him they were in a bag to carry, he changed his mind and took the offering. The rest didn't hesitate and some dove right in and started eating cookies for breakfast (Merrick says that is a good use for a cookie!).
Everyone started congratulating Michael and asking questions about his new job, where it was, what type of job, etc. Some started talking about how long they had been riders (one was 28 years-yikes!) and chatting with each other.
How quickly we turned from a group of people happy it is Friday but struggling to start the day to a group of people sharing a moment with a co-rider and wishing him well. The late arrivals missed out-I had to board the bus.
I handed off the remaining cookies to Michael to share with his co-workers on his last day and maybe his family when he gets home tonight. Hopefully the cookies, camaraderie and positive start to the day will carry over for everyone but especially for Michael as he segues from one job to another. He seems like a nice guy and I wish him well. The job sounds challenging and permanent unlike the current contract work with its less than solid security in this economy. And he said the company is small but a good company.
Good Luck, Michael!