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My Best Day Ever: Seeing the Future in the Age of Instant Everything

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We live in the age of instant everything, from downloads to deliveries, when a million tweets can circle the world in a moment.

On the job, however, that’s not always the case. Sure, a painter can see the fruits of his labors as his still life appears on the canvas. Physicians and nurses may restore a person to health in their office or the operating room. But for many of us, the end result isn’t always so tangible. That doesn’t make our work less important or less rewarding – it just means that the returns come long-term.

But once in a while, it happens right in front of us. In Gerry Farrell’s case, instant job satisfaction came in the form of an eight-year old boy in a blue plaid shirt. Farrell, director of Kaiser Permanente Southern California’s Educational Theatre program, shares her story on the Community Benefit “Be Inspired” website:

My Best Day Ever

By Gerry Farrell, director, Educational Theatre

I met him on May 18 at the Waterman Gardens public housing complex in San Bernardino. We were both there for a party celebrating the culmination of an MPOWR project and installation of a new “Little Free Library.”

MPOWR is Educational Theatre’s summer enrichment program for middle-school students, and the MPOWR participants attending the ceremony had helped create the festive, turquoise book box as part of their service project. There were also a number of kids from the Waterman Gardens Boys & Girls club there, all very excited about the new “Take a book, leave a book” library in their backyard.

And that’s how I met the boy in the blue plaid shirt.

He was just a standout, and his enthusiasm was infectious. Dressed in matching cornflower blue jeans, he sported a sheriff's badge decal just below the right shoulder of that plaid shirt.

He had secured a paperback copy of Jack London's White Fang. When he landed this prize, he announced to no one in particular, "I am going to read this whole book!"

When one of the chaperones commented on his repeated discarding of tomatoes from his third or fourth turkey-and-cheese sandwich, he tried a juicy one, widened his eyes in surprise, and exclaimed, “Hey, those are good!”

When I admired his sheriff's badge, he replied, "Yeah I got to sit in a SWAT van today at school!" Then he proceeded to the food table, grabbed another sandwich, raised sandwich and book high in the air, and pronounced to the crowd, "This is the BEST. DAY. EVER!"    

His sheer delight in the tomato, the book and the badge made it one of my best days, too. 

I don’t know what the next day was like for him, and I’ll never know whether a free copy of White Fang set him on a path to reading, or new ideas or possibilities (as books can do).

But I do know that today, I wanted to take a break from the workaday tasks and pressing deadlines to share this story; to thank the boy in the plaid shirt for reminding me that even little moments of joy are big; and to remember that sometimes good things come in small boxes: books, empowerment, and maybe – the best day ever.

Gerry Farrell, M.A.
Director, Educational Theatre