My husband has a yellow jacket that always makes me smile. Every time I see him slip it on, I think of being on the safety patrol when I was in sixth grade.
My School Safety Patrol card is another one of those things that surprised me by surviving fifty plus years stuck in little corners of big boxes. I have misplaced dozens of things over the years but this little card somehow held on to its space.
As sixth graders, we were the class that “manned” the safety patrol. That meant at noon and at the end of the day, kids from our class were sent to guard crosswalks around the school. I volunteered because I would have time away from the classroom. That was just too much to resist.
What I did not think about as I enthusiastically threw my hand up in the air that first week of school, was the weather. This was Iowa. Sure, at the beginning of the school year the weather was perfect. Before long, the warm Indian Summer and windy Fall days turned into the blustery, cold days of Winter. Like mail delivery, safety patrol guards could not be deterred by the weather. Rain, sleet, or snow, we headed out to our posts. To protect us from those elements, the school had a number of bright yellow slickers. These rubber slickers felt and smelled ancient. Heaven only knows how old they were but we HAD to wear them when we went out in the rain.
As lunchtime got closer and closer on my day for patrol, I watched the sky get darker and darker. The rain started falling harder and the temperature fell. As my fellow patrol person and I left to go to our posts, we were told to wear those yellow slickers.
“Be careful,” Mrs.Kvidera told us, “with it getting colder, it could be getting icy.”
I walked to the locker, grabbed the crunchy yellow jacket, pulled the hood up, and walked toward the front door. Mr. Lenth, the school superintendent, and a teacher were standing at the entryway, observing and discussing the quickly changing weather. I nodded my head, the stiff and scratchy hood falling across my eyes as my legs pushed against the heavy rubberized coat. I was concentrating on walking against that added weight while constantly adjusting the stubborn hood.
I pushed the heavy door open and headed outside. As my foot hit the wet pavement, I felt it slip. I was moving too fast to stop. My other foot never made contact. Before I knew it, I was on my back. That yellow slicker was exactly that–slick! In a mass of crackling yellow, I was propelled across the sidewalk, down a little asphalt hill that was the side parking lot, and under a bus.
I looked up to see the teacher and Mr. Lenth looking down on me, saying in unison, “Looks like we need to end school early today.”
They helped me up, brushed me off, and sent me back to class. Shortly after, an overhead announcement declared due to weather, school was dismissed.
So, the little card survived to remind me of a time when I fell–literally–and was helped up by the kindness of others. There are times when we all need that type of gentle reminder.
You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.
Remember, ask for help if you need it.
I love you.