Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SLANDER (09/07/17)
- TITLE: Wash Your Troubles Away
By Donna Powers
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One day, I was sitting in my counseling center office listening to patients; the next day I was fired and told to leave the office immediately.
I had some warning about my abrupt dismissal: the director of the counseling center began flirting with me a few months ago, and I turned him down. He wasn’t my type, and I make it a practice not to date people I work with.
Needless to say: he wasn’t happy.
When I turned him down for the third time, he told me I’d be sorry. Two days later, they told me I was fired.
When I looked for another counseling job, I got very because I was never called for a second interview. I finally realized I’d never get that second interview when the State Licensing Board called to say they were investigating me for an ethics complaint. Of course, I fought the charges, but my former boss lied and said I’d slept with a patient. He got that client to lie, too. The board believed them, and I lost my counseling license.
At first, I felt so lost. All I’ve ever wanted to be was a psychologist, but that path seemed blocked to me. Faced with a huge pile of bills, I took a job with the only person who’d hire me: my sister Beth. Beth owned two local laundromats, and she needed a new manager for one of them. So, instead of listening to people’s problems, I get to hear how they’d like their whites to be whiter.
Days at the laundromat felt purposeless at first, but I resolved to trust God and make the best of the situation. About a month ago, I was wiping down the dryers when I heard someone crying. Laundry doesn’t normally provoke tears, so I went to see what was wrong.
A woman was standing near a full laundry basket and crying like that basket had broken her heart. My Inner Psychologist kick into gear and asked, “What’s wrong? Can I help?”
She shook her head and clutched a dampened shirt. “I don’t think so. It’s just… I dropped my last quarter between these two washing machines and I really need to get my clothes dry.”
Well, that was an easy problem. I went over to my purse, fished out a quarter, and handed it to her. “Problem solved,” I said.
But she only cried harder, and my old therapy skills took over. It was a relief to use the gifts of my former profession. I turned my attention on her and invited her to tell me about what else was bothering her.
Of course, it wasn’t really about the quarter. That quarter had just been The Last Straw in her own personal Perfect Storm of Everyday Problems: she’d started the day fifteen minutes late; her kids forgot their school lunches; she’d been stuck in traffic, all her bills were overdue, and now… a fugitive quarter.
We talked until her dryer finished its cycle, and kept talking as she folded her clothes. One by one, the women in that laundromat turned and began to listen. After I checked with my new acquaintance, I let them join in our conversation. Each of them had their own Perfect Storm of problems to spill.
And spill they did.
For the rest of that day, I conducted impromptu group therapy sessions with my customers, and I slowly began to regain a feeling of my purpose.
I told my sister right away,. After she saw an upsurge of business on my Group Therapy days, she was all for it, and gave me a bigger percentage of the profits.
So, ever since that day, I’ve led an informal weekly group therapy session right there in the laundromat. I may no longer get paid for doing my dream job, but I’m still a therapist and still do my best to make a difference in people's’ lives.
After all, they can take away my license, but they can’t take away the gifts God has given me.
Even if I now ply my trade at Sudsy Town.
My sister’s even thinking of renaming the place Clean and Serene.
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