Today was just a regular day in a long string of regular days. I got up - late - and went to teach my OLLI class. My projector didn't work, so I had to go find a tech guy to help me, which cut into the time I needed to prepare since I was late to begin with. But my students showed up and we did what we needed to do and I drove home thinking of the list of things I needed to take care of before the end of this regular day, dodging the guys standing in the middle of the street and sulking when I got stuck behind a slow-going tow truck.
One of the things I had to remember to do today was to stop by the Post Office and mail back my ADL contract. Four years ago I trained to be a trainer for the Anti-Defamation League. Just the training experience alone is a whole other blog post, but for now, suffice it to say it was meaningful. So meaningful that although I've only been called to train a dozen or so times in the last four years, I am committed to sticking with it. I attend as many of our quarterly meetings as I can, I try and volunteer for the fund-raising events as often as possible and I stay connected with some of my co-trainers via email or Facebook, just because I like them so much. Last night, when our training coordinator handed me my "official" ADL name badge - with a magnet and everything! - I nearly swooned. I love this work.
Sometimes though, outside of my ADL family (and my family) I feel like no one really knows what the ADL does or even who they are. I've had to explain a number of times what the initials actually stand for and I do my ol' stand-by description of the work and the mission: fight hate, build hope and safeguard liberty. And even then, there is often a blank stare before the topic is quickly changed. Not because people don't care, I'm sure, but because where do you go after that? I think that's why I love going to my trainer meetings so much - my people are there. We "get" each other and it's always nice to feel that way.
So it was more than a surprise this morning when I handed over my manilla envelope to send back to the ADL HQ containing my trainer's contract to hear the postal employee say, "I love the work you people do." My immediate thought was, "what is he talking about? What people?" until I realized he was gesturing towards the return address which has ADL in big bold letters.
"Oh, thank you!" I said.
"There's so much work to be done," he said and I immediately drew on the excitement from the previous night's meeting and told him about this year's centennial celebration and theme: Imagine a World Without Hate. Anne Frank celebrating her 84th birthday. Matthew Shepherd running for political office.
"Yeah," he said, "been there, done that."
"Thank you for saying something", I said, "I really appreciate it."
And then he said, "God bless you on your journey."
So, not a regular day after all. Actually, a pretty awesome day. When I got back to my office I took out the new magnetic, permanent, name tag I got last night and put it on. I think I'll wear it all the time.