It was a little after 1, and I had somewhere to be at 1:30 and lunch to eat first when I flew into the caf. I got my food and had resolved myself to sit alone, something I actually enjoy doing periodically. I still don't know how I saw her since she was behind me, around the corner, and hidden by the crowd, but I did. She, too, was sitting alone. I walked up and slid my tray onto the table.
"Can I sit here?"
She had food in her mouth but nodded, and I told her I'd be right back. I dropped my bag, left my tray, and went to get my milk. I came back, sat down, prayed the Common Table Prayer, and asked her name. Marta. I recognized it from working check-in that morning. She was a transfer student; it was her first day on campus. I asked how it was going.
As she talked, slowly the tears welled in her eyes. They matched the ones I had been sporting earlier. Sometime between my golf-cart ride to McDonalds with Megan after check-in and this lunch, I discovered the job I had last year was no longer available to me. It was a complicated situation, and I was the victim of the system. I was confused. Upset. Frustrated. Livid. I cried. I called my dad. I cried again. I had a plan: talk to my boss, but I couldn't do that until I knew I was not going to melt in his office.
With a compassionate smile, I asked Marta how many times she had gotten lost that day. Lots. She'd lost her map. She laughed. I laughed. She cried. I cared. By the end of lunch, I had gotten her two new maps. Each had her apartment building circled, the building where her nursing classes would be circled, and a big huge "F" over the building where the food was. What more does a person need, right? I walked her to where she needed to go, and we said goodbye.
I visited my favorite coffee shop to email my hippy boss. My internet's still spotty. "We have a problem," the email said. "When are you going to be in your office?"
Almost instantly he responded, "I'm here now; come on over."
I did. When I walked in, he asked how I was. I said I was cranky. He didn't understand: worms were burrowing and he'd just gotten his iTouch to work after two years; how could I be cranky? Then I told him what happened to my job. He became distressed and no longer cared about the worms. He called his boss who called her boss who promised to work on the mess for me. The hippy told me it was just a matter of faith that the situation would work itself out. It was weird.
At dinner, I saw Marta again. I asked if the rest of her day had improved. She said it had. She even had a new friend! I was so excited for her I "woooh-who-ed" right there in the middle of the caf. I had intended to sit with them, but we got separated in the mob.
It's been four days since I've seen Marta. My job situation has been rectified. My boss's boss's boss, who has a big important title, made some phone calls, got me my job back, and earned himself a hand-written thank you card. I can only hope Marta has memorized her maps, made more than one friend, and is enjoying herself.
I think we both needed each other at that lunch. It was a simple exchange, a breach of the comfort zone, and a world gained. God's way to remind us that He is Jehovah-Jirah, the Lord provider.