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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

Keep Your Zipper to Your Side & Your Wits About You

Sunday morning, I walked from my hotel to where I would board a steamboat for jazz brunch. Although it was early, it was still hot & humid. I was meeting 4 other people I didn’t know who were also in New Orleans attending the HR conference. While in line, I commented on the FB post organizing the event that I was in line, wearing a green shirt and sweating profusely. Another attendee replied saying, “I think I see you!” Im not sure if it was the sweating clue that helped him identify me, or the green shirt. Perhaps both but we met up in the line before boarding and finding the two others. Thankfully, this attendee was also sweating profusely. I don’t know how you couldn’t be. Normally, I’d refrain from meeting strangers for brunch on a boat but I figured what the hell and it was a great time.


After the boat, I wandered around a little to find an ornament for this trip since I didn’t get one my two prior trips. It’s likely I hadn’t begun this tradition until after my 2 prior trips. I try to by an ornament from every place I visit. It’s fun to reminisce as we decorate our Christmas tree. By now, all of our ornaments are personal momentos. It began to sprinkle which was somewhat refreshing but when the thunder began, I hightailed it back to the hotel.


On Saturday, while awaiting my cemetery tour, I met a young engaged couple from New York (state). The woman seemed particularly alarmed by the homeless population in New Orleans. I think it’s sad, of course, but not particularly alarming. In 1992, I graduated high school and traveled to New Mexico. It was my first solo trip but by this time, I was already enlisted in the Army and due to leave for basic training that August. Mom was on high alert around my trip, advising me to, “Keep your zipper to your side and your wits about you!” I’ve carried this information with me throughout my travels for 30 years of travels. I’ve never been fearful but I have been aware - my wits about me. The NY woman then remarked about the reported national labor shortage in the US and how these people should just get jobs.


“This is an incredibly one dimensional view of a multi-dimensional problem.” Is what I did not say. But really, it’s such an oversimplication I almost laughed. Later, as I walked past a man sleeping in an alcove, the hard sidewalk his mattress, the stench of urine strong, I imagined shaking his bare foot to awaken him and let him know there was a massive HR convention in town and all those people were hiring. I pictured him, hopping up, “Well, okay then. This solves all my problems. Praise Jesus.”


If only it were that easy for him and all of us HR people looking to fill opening.



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