So I coupla days ago I was in the check out line at the Rite Aid near my house.
It was Sunday. I was totally off my game when she greeted me.
“Good morning,” she said in that sing songy kind of southern swangy voice that made me take notice.
Her name is Carolyn. (A.k.a Ms. Cabbie.) I saw it there on her name badge.
“Are you new?” I asked. “I don’t recognize you.”
She laughed. “Girl, I’ve been working at this same location for 22 years…back in pharmacy. I’m filling in for somebody today up here at the front.”
“Twenty two years,” I said. “That must mean you’re a native Charlottean.”
“Yep,” born and raised here.
“What year’dya graduate high school?” I asked.
“1975! Independence High School. Best high school in the city. Our football team couldn’t be beat.” She grinned.
“Ahhh,” I responded with a huge smile. “You’re one of those folks. The ones who experienced busing…the desegregation era!”
She looked at me with a sense of satisfaction. “I sure did.”
Pretty much everybody who went to public school in the early to mid 70’s remembers it as a very special time in Charlotte, NC.
Yeah…there was that initial hurdle to get over, but then it became a huge sense of pride. A GINIRMOUS sense of pride for all the kids who experienced it.
Carolyn was no exception.
West Charlotte, East Mecklenburg, Independence, Garinger. Every student I have ever encountered from that era of my city’s history, remembers that time with a real sense of “we did this and it was powerful.”
“Where did you go?” she asked.
“I went to a private school. My dad wasn’t ready for the change. He had some fear about that.”
I was quiet for a few seconds.
“That school has made many advances since then…since those early days of integration. My dad changed too before he died.”
She stopped ringing up my purchase, paused and looked at me.
“I didn’t really understand it until I was older,” I shared.
We chatted for another second or two about the struggles now facing Charlotteans. Many of our schools have become highly segregated again and there’s been a lot of talk about what can be done about that.
Carolyn and I have only known each other for three minutes and we are here in the line at the Rite Aid having this kinda conversation.
“You know,” she said as she pointed to her heart and then started putting my purchased items in the bag. “It all comes down to love, baby. You just gotta love yourself first and know you’re loved,” she pointed upward, “before you can truly love other people. As long as you love yourself and your Creator, you gonna be okay.”
Carolyn Lockhart is her name and love is her game.
I went back yesterday and asked her if I could share our conversation here on Facebook because I was so struck by it. She read what I wrote and we took our picture together.
We decided with all that’s going on in the world we would stage our own little revolution…a LOVE revolution…because we can…because it makes us feel good.
“You gotta love yourself and know you’re loved before you can love anybody else.”
I call that a good day: a little Sunday-go-to-church-meeting there at the Rite Aid all while buying some toilet paper and paper towels.