“Hey you! Come here, come here!” Her voice, intense and commanding, sounded like it was being stretched taught across a gravel pit.
It was my first day on the job. I was 17 and working in a centre that provided jobs for developmentally delayed adults.
When I stopped and looked for the owner of the voice, I finally looked down, way down and laid eyes on an elf named Cookie.
Cookie was the far side of 80 and to this day I remember her curly, honey coloured hair, crooked grin and enormous glasses which only made her eyes look even larger than they were. She was wearing a pair of polyester pants and a simple cotton top. A white sweater completed the look.
Being entirely unsure, both of what I was to be doing and what she wanted me for, I followed her gnarled fingers in the direction they were pointing.
Which is how I found myself in the bathroom, with Cookie rooted in front of me, lifting up her top.
My mouth gaped.
I can’t remember if it was more from watching this woman undress and fearing how far she’d go or in amazement at the contraption she was wearing, something that vaguely resembled a bra. Cookie had the developmental age of an 8 year old yet someone had dressed her in a bra that must have had 20 tiny hooks that closed in the front.
Twenty tiny hooks, all of which had come undone except one which was trying hard to hang on.
As she gazed up at me through her coke bottle glasses I guessed she needed help doing up the contraption.
So I did. Carefully. Tentatively. Cautiously.
Cookie and I were fast friends from then on. I’ve never had a more unusual first day on the job since.
Help comes in odd packages. Sometimes you have to simply jump in and trust things will work out.
When have you jumped in lately?