Teddy knew this was a not a real police job, but customer service was like a security job; it was really important. People would be depending on him like they depend on police. The Customer Service Manager, Mike, said he could do it and he believed he could do a good job. His mom was proud of him. He would make enough money to help her and he could get his lunches at the food fair most days. And he liked his uniform; the badge showed that people could trust him.
His first assignment was to watch the street on the north entrance. Mike said to look around and see if someone needed help.
Well, Friends, I don’t really know Teddy, nor his mom, nor his boss but this is where I came into the picture. Allow me to still call this twenties-something man Teddy, who was in position at the north entrance at the mall.
My sister, Karen, and I decided to run to the mall and look for a particular dress shop we had heard about. So we found ourselves in the mall – on Friday afternoon, the week-end after pay day, the last pay day before school starts, the non-tax week-end! Cars everywhere. Four waiting for one parking space, drivers trying to out-do one another! I found one at the north end of the parking lot, far enough away that no one else was waiting.
Karen and I started walking toward the entrance. I got tired much too soon. She said she would go ahead and see if that was the entrance we needed. We spotted Teddy. Someone to help. She walked his direction. I stood mulling over the situation. Teddy appealed to my imagination. I thought, “I bet he hasn’t been long on this job.” He was eager; he stepped toward my sister; he looked animated; he looked pleased to listen as she spoke to him.
I turned to walk back to the car. Got in, backed out, and went to the corner where I left Karen and Teddy talking. No Karen, no Teddy. I picked up my phone to call but there she came walking down the long mall entrance. I maneuvered my car around to pick her up.
“Well,” she says, “the dress shop is in this mall, but we need to park on the other end. I could see it down at the east end. Teddy was very helpful but he didn’t know very much because this was his first day on the job. He seemed a little slow, but he was real nice. He asked me if I wanted him to wait while I came to get you. Or if he needed to walk back out with me.” I laughed and told her I had already come to the conclusion he was new at the job.
New at the job. A first of its kind. Eager, proud, helpful, full of hope.
I wonder how long it had taken Teddy to get a real job. Not just lawn work or helping the neighbor lift a heavy motor out of a car. High five, Teddy. Keep your thankfulness, your helpfulness, your hopefulness, your pride!
Record low unemployment, most people in the labor force than ever before! Maybe some thanks should be given for a “needy” labor market – one that gives Teddy a chance.
Short story. Intro is fiction, the part about Karen and me is true.
Entered on M’s monthly prompt challenge. “The first of its kind” August 6th. Thanks, M, for the prompt.