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Detra’s story

Part 12

“I was still in the shelter at Christmastime, so Garrison flew in from Arkansas to be with me. We ate a Christmas meal together. We went and looked at the windows on 5th Avenue. And right before he left to go home, Garrison gave me a small box, with a bracelet inside. On it there was a single charm—with the skyline of New York City. He told me: ‘This is your New Life Bracelet. And I’m going to get you a charm for every new accomplishment.’ From that day on—whenever things got hard, I’d twirl that charm between my fingers, and trust that things would get better. Every morning the shelter guard would wake me up at 3 AM, so I could catch the train to Brooklyn. I worked the opening shift at Starbucks. But I never minded. Loving on people has always been my favorite thing to do. I knew all my customers’ names. I’d memorized their orders. My favorite thing was when I got to write their name on the cup. I’d always draw a special little curve underneath– just to let them know they were special. One of my favorite customers was a man named Eric. He sometimes came in with his husband. And he was quick to grin, so whenever I had a break we would get to chatting. I had no idea what he did for work. But I told him the same thing that I told all my favorite customers: ‘If you know anybody who’s looking for a receptionist, keep me in mind.’ It turns out that Eric was the CEO of a consulting company, and he asked me to put together a resume. All I’d ever done was church work. So there wasn’t much to put on there, but in the end it didn’t matter. The interviewer told me that the office printer wasn’t working. He said: ‘Let’s not worry about your resume. Tell me your story instead.’ When I finished he asked if he could give me a hug. And they ended up creating a position just for me: HR Assistant. My starting pay was $50,000 a year, with benefits. A few days after I got hired, Eric took me out to coffee. He told me: ‘I know you think I got you this job—but I didn’t pull any strings. I handed them your resume, and all I said was: I have an unorthodox candidate.’”

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