How to make the world a better place II

January 20, 2008

I got off the train in Groningen, and went to the ‘Ladies’. You have to pay a hefty 50 euro cents to get in, there is an ageing woman always present to take the money.

But she does a bit more than just clean the toilets and guard the gate. The whole toilet block was recently redone, so, in a gleaming tan tiled space, you enter a roomy cubicle, and there on a shelf behind you is a small votive candle. Actually, the whole Ladies Room is illuminated in soft candlelight; and somewhere there must be an aromatic oil burner. Little crafty things that she makes during quiet periods are for sale on the wall behind her- cards, bracelets, etc.

Imagine stepping off a train in a crowded station and entering this sanctuary of healing calm. I feel the tension flow out of my shoulders every time I go in there.

But one day I went in and it was different. The candles were lit, but there was someone else on duty.  And I realized, it was really the first woman’s caring presence that made it all work.

Yesterday,  I told her how much I appreciated the care she put into her job. She took it in stride, and it seems to me more people must have taken the trouble to tell her what an oasis she has made for many of us travellers in a simple rest room.  

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