Being raised by my parents was almost magical. Because of my mom I wanted to be a preacher. I salvaged a big box from the garbage and stayed in it like a bobsled, reading the Bible for hours and preparing sermons. I started praying other places once I found a big spider in the box and let my parents throw it away. My mom is just…unexpected. She’s sweet and quiet, yet she was a beauty queen and her talent was wailing on the drums. (Check that out here: https://youtu.be/e9kCjMVXOt0 .)
My dad is infused with joy and a sense of play even though he usually dresses like a cutthroat cowboy! Growing up he’d make us steak and lobster on occasion! We had holidays fit for royalty even though my dad had to hawk his guns one year so we could have Christmas. Even though we didn’t have the “most” we always thought we did.
Then one of the greatest success stories I’ve ever seen happened. My parents ran a construction business and even sold it. I’ll never forget watching how hard they both worked years later to make it succeed. Yet, even though they’re “quite comfortable” now, on vacation I saw that my parents will never lose perspective of what matters.
“Pedro!” My Dad stood from his seat in Nuevo Vallarta and clapped the bellboy on the back. “Pedro” turned around and grinned.
“Oh—my goodness. Felipe!” he said in a Spanish accent. They hugged so excited to see one another. “Welcome home!” The man joked.
Another time my parents spotted one of the employees who’s from London. “We have to get together soon!” the man said, and my dad nodded saying they’d had such a fantastic time when they last caught up.
This continued at a small German restaurant in downtown Puerto Vallarta. “Thank you for coming here so much, despite COVID,” the owner said. “We’re so very grateful.” Then later he gave my mom a hearty hug and she beamed.
The point is that they’ve been frequenting this area for 20 years, yet they aren’t just friends with the ritzy people who stay in the best hotels like they do. Nope. They’re friends with the workers, the locals, and anyone (regardless of class) who’s real.
I thought of this as I walked from the plane in Salt Lake City and sat down in my designated wheelchair. “How are you?” I asked the transportation employee.
“I’m having the worst day ever!”
Mike kissed me on the cheek and whispered, “Good luck with that.” He stood up. “I’ll meet you at pickup gate 2C, and then we’ll drive home? I’m gonna go get the SUV.”
The man vented for a while. “I never talk to customers like this, but my boss just passed me up for a promotion. I just found out—and I’m livid.”
“Is this your dream job?”
He shook his head, and as the conversation continued I couldn’t help dropping the bomb. “I have stage four cancer. The doctors say it’s terminal.”
He gapped, obviously rethinking his worries. “And here I am telling you MY problems…”
“I just shared that because life is short! Don’t waste it being so unhappy. What is your dream job?”
“I want to stage houses.”
“But—let me guess—it doesn’t make any money. Right?”
“Okay!” I said. “I had a similar problem. I wanted to be a writer; I even wrote nine books, but I make enough each month to eat off the dollar menu at McDonald’s.”
He laughed. “Oh! I didn’t mean to laugh.” He shook the amusement from his face.
“No worries.” I grinned. “So I found something that’s close to writing where I CAN make money. I had to work hard for it, but now I’m an editor! Sure I’m not writing YA fiction like I hoped, but I’m surprisingly happy with my career!”
“But how can I possibly make money staging houses? I don’t have any experience.”
I thought for a minute. “You could be…a realtor! Stage homes and then make money selling them. Get contacts and then—down the road—start your own staging business for fellow realtors who’ve grown to love you!”
“This is so weird,” he confessed. I started a realtor class, and it’s about to expire. Then my mom—who has no idea—gave me silly realtor socks as a joke for Christmas!”
“And NOW we’re talking about it. It’s a Godwink for sure!”
He broke out laughing. At that point Mike called, and the man pushed me over to our SUV.
“I have to work until 1 a.m., but I’m so energized! You changed my whole perspective.”
“Nah! You would’ve figured it out.” I winked.
“This job IS a means to an end. I’m gonna finish that real estate class—and then I’m gonna go skiing.”
“Skiing?” I asked.
“Yeah, ‘cause I’ve always wanted to go, and you only live once, right?”
I waved goodbye and after Mike started driving off he said, “He sure changed his tune. What was that about?”
“I just helped give him some perspective.”
“YOU are such a character.” Mike burst out laughing.
I thought of my parents in Mexico and grinned. “If I am, I get it from my parents.” And even though we’d just left a sunny, beautiful paradise and exchanged it for ice and snow, I thought that I couldn’t be happier.
(A “fancy” picture in the elevator 🤣.)