I have decided to do something different for my blog. Rather than write about my experiences, insights, and mistakes in the traditional sense, I’ve chosen to write short-short stories that incorporate them.
Here is the first:
Samantha hesitated as she stood by the bank entrance, debating whether to open the door and go inside to do what she came here to do, or whether to turn around and head back home. She bit her lower lip, realizing she really didn’t have a choice, she needed to do this , something she had been putting off for days.
With the realization that it wouldn’t go away, she inhaled a deep breath and finally stepped inside. Nervously she walked over to the short lineup. She preferred the line ups to be longer, giving her more time to calm herself and practice what she was going to say, yet the more people around her, the more chances there was of something going wrong and others discovering her secret.
Perspiration had begun to collect on her brow as she stood, waiting. She clutched the paper tightly in her hand, every so often glancing down at it nervously. Why did the bank have to send this? She wouldn’t be going through this otherwise.
Two more people in the line-up and she would be forced to have her turn. Her body tensed from the thought.
Samantha had repeatedly gone over what she would say, but still, she felt unprepared.
“I can do this,” she kept telling herself. How many times had she gone through something like this to protect her secret?
“Next!” the seated teller called out, pressing his glasses up his pointy nose. The man next in line, walked forward, pulling out his wallet.
“I can help someone over here!” another bank teller called out, adding a bright smile to her face.
The lady in front of her rushed up as if in a hurry.
Samantha was next. The idea unsettled her. She debated many time of turning around and running out the door, but she knew she had to get this done.
“Can I help the next person,” the male teller called out.
When she got to the counter, she handed him the letter.
“What can I help you with?” he asked with uncertainty.
“I got that in the mail,” she replied, pointing to the letter in his hands, not sure what else to say about it.
The young man pressed his glasses up on his nose while reading it.
“I’m not sure what you want me to do with this. It’s a standard advertising letter that the bank sends out to all its customers around this time of the year,” he said.
“Are you interested in an RSSP?” he asked. “If so, we can set up an appointment.”
Samantha nodded. “No. I had thought about it, but I’ve changed my mind. Thanks anyway.” She smiled, before turning and then walking away, feeling utterly relieved it was over, and that no one had discovered her secret.
She continued to walk until she was outside the door and had marched across the street before she leaned up against a store window and allowed herself to take a deep needed breath to relax.
Another day had passed where she avoided the humiliation of others knowing that she could not read. She was forty-four years of age, and she could not read a simple letter.
A number of years ago, I had the pleasure of teaching adults who couldn’t read and write. Over time, these people develop coping mechanisms that often blind us to their illiteracy.
Despite our public education system, I was shocked to find out how many millions of adults are illiterate in my country, in that they cannot cope effectively within society, and often, due to no fault of their own. Many are ashamed at their age to get help and others are unaware help is available. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide are deprived of education, something that we often take for granted.
“No skill is more crucial to the future of a child, or to a democratic and prosperous society, than literacy.” – Los Angeles Times