My Lucky Charm

My Lucky Charm

In 1998 I was working at a large hotel as a maid. To make extra money, I did a lot of double shifts. One night there was a call to bring a port-a-crib up to one of the rooms on the 9thfloor. That entailed the fold up crib, sheets, a small pillow and a blanket.

I had the sheets, blanket and pillow in one arm and was walking down the long corridor when the front two Velcro straps holding the crib in its packaging popped open. The third strap held, so instead of the crib just rolling out onto the floor, the crib twisted, as the front fell out and back of the crib stayed strapped in.

When the crib fell, the thumb on my left hand caught in the carry handle and was twisted right along with a 30 pound falling crib. It was just kind of an “ouch ”, nothing drastic, so I did my job and then went home.

The next morning my hand was sore, to the point of it hurt to button my shirt, roll my hair, tie my shoe. Little things.

Three days went by and the pain was getting progressively worse … but just on the same kind little things. That morning, before we began work, we were all called into the assistant manager’s office so he could go over the days assignments. He said “Ok. Who’s hurt?” Since I was the only one wearing Bengay, he knew it was me. I told him what had happened, and he got upset wanting to know why I had not reported the accident and the injury.

Really??? It hurts to roll my hair. It hurts to button my shirt. I’m sure that would have been taken real seriously.

He did file a report and sent me to a clinic for evaluation. By that time I had lost a lot of mobility in my hand where it was painful and impossible to touch my thumb to my fingers. That was why small movements hurt so badly.

At the clinic, they gave me a ball of putty to squish, and put me on light duty. That meant folding towels and sheets for 8 hours every day, until my appointment the following week. It hurt SO much worse the following week. Back at the clinic the second week, with tears streaming down my face, a technician pulled and twisted my hand to “loosen the tendons”. I went back to light duty folding towels and sheets. It went on for 6 weeks of twisting and pulling and trying to use the putty and it only seem to make my hand worse, MUCH worse, not any better at all.

Since the clinic had exhausted all they could do, they sent me to a hand surgeon. After x-rays and examining my hand he said everything that the clinic had done was making my hand worse. He told me that my hand needed to be immobile. All of the therapy from the clinic and the endless hours of light duty folding towels did nothing but aggravate the injury. For two weeks I wore a brace on my hand … and no more folding towels.

By then we had a new housekeeping manager and she saw me as dead weight. Since I could no longer work in the laundry, and she could not fire me, she had me picking up trash and cigarette butts in the parking lot in the July and August heat. After several days, I finally asked a bellboy if I could at least borrow his dust pan.

I knew that I could not keep on working there, but had no idea what to do. I could no longer do my home child care, and after 20 years of caring for children, that was all I knew. One day I saw an ad in the paper for ‘Career Quest’, offering free training for “those who qualify”.

I thought, “How strange.” If you qualify, what do you need training for? So, on a whim, I called to see what that meant.

He said that they were offering classes in computers, for a medical assistant and for a travel agent . Because I had to give up my day care because of foot surgery, because I was a single parent, because I had been hurt on the job and actually had my hand in a brace as we were speaking, I was a poster child for assistance. I“Qualified”and didn’t even know it!

For weeks I cleaned up cigarette butts during the day and told no one at all that I was attending travel school at night.

The hand surgeon saw me every week for over a month, keeping me in the hand brace and giving me injections. I was so beat down by then. I hated my job, the injections were very painful, my hand still hurt and I was so tired working out in the hot sun most of the day and going to school at night, I did not think I could make it.

One day, exasperated with me, my manager told me that she wanted me to clean the store room. One look at that and my heart sank. It was floor to ceiling junk! There was YEARS of old torn sheets, dirty pillows and blankets and boxes! Lots and lots of boxes of junk left behind in the hotel rooms. After three days of organizing and hauling out trash, I woke up in tears. I just didn’t see how I could do it anymore. I was down to just a few boxes to sort through, and I knew I’d be back outside picking up cigarette butts in the Texas heat.

After a couple hours, there were just two boxes left. I kept thinking what the assistant manager had said to me a few days earlier. He said, “Jackie, your spirit is telling you to move on, and you’re not listening to you spirit.” I almost cried.

Finally, after three day of filth, I was down to the second to the last box. I looked in and at the very bottom I saw two tiny plastic bags.

I was amazed to find in a store room full of trash, two shiny silver charms. One of a graduation cap and the other of an airplane!

I graduated from travel school two days later with the highest grade they had ever had in the class!

I have been a travel agent now for 14 years and I LOVE it!

A gift from the angels. Oh yes …

I keep my two “lucky charms” taped to the front cover of my bible because …

I believe.

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