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September 18, 2020

Window on the World Column: The Lucky Ones

By Lucy Jensen, Soledad Columnist

It has been a most interesting year; what an understatement. I have never felt so fortunate and yet so frustrated. I’ve found skills this year I didn’t think I had. I have dug deep for patience I never believed I possessed. Four years ago, I decided to become a Notary Public to cover some of the gaps in my main job, real estate, that can be fickle at the best of times. I did the notary and loan signing course and got ready to receive lots of work and get well-paid.

Anyone who knows about notary work, also likely knows that there is ordinarily not much to be had and it is not very well-paid. I was a little disappointed that I had invested time, not to mention money, in my new endeavor. That was until the beginning of 2020 — a year that will live on in infamy for most of our lives. In some ways, this was the year I got lucky.

Since the title companies were closed and the world of refinance and lending was still moving along, swiftly because of the superb interest rates and continued interest in buying and selling properties, notaries were considered “essential workers” and in great demand. All of a sudden, I have a chance to hone my skills, sharpen my tools — and make some money in the notary world. I found myself traveling all over the place from Paicines to Seaside in my efforts to keep money coming into the house. It is such interesting work too. From your basic refinance to your powers of attorney and out-of-state purchases, I really enjoyed all the new things I was learning.

I felt fortunate — I was lucky to be an essential worker, to be able to go to work — and there was lots of it to be had. How blessed was I! Others, the world over, are less fortunate during these trying pandemic times. They are forced to rely on the “kindness” of their governments to keep the money coming in and the wolves from their door. I realized that, when life gives you a hand up, you’d better seize on it with both paws and be grateful — even if you are extremely tired.

My son in Sacramento has been waiting for his fine dining restaurant to be able to re-open. Not going to happen anytime soon. He would much rather go to work than receive a hand-out, contrary to what is sometimes flouted by politicians. He has received a forbearance on his mortgage for a limited period, but he will never be able to catch up and pay the amount owed, unless he is able to work. He is stressed and terrified that he will lose his house. He is not one of the lucky ones. I hope to be able to help him; but husband has not been able to work either, so we are struggling too. There are many, many families out there like ours.

I travel to Salinas to collect FedEx supplies for my notary work. They seldom leave us supplies in our drop box locations. There are lots of people in line, no supplies in sight. I wait patiently for my turn and am greeted by a very huffy guy who didn’t want to give me any supplies. He told me I needed to apply for them online. I told him, very politely, that I was just trying to do my job and he snapped at me, “How do you think I feel?” As one of the essential workers, I would think that a FedEx worker would be bending over backwards to be polite and helpful to their customers. After all, they are still receiving their full pay and benefits, and likely overtime, with all the demand.

I was so disappointed in that exchange, I decided to write about it. If you are an essential worker and you are tired, be grateful for your blessed opportunity to be out there and working and not stressing about your bills and your mortgage! I tell everyone who will listen how fortunate I feel to be able to do extra notary work when real estate is so unpredictable, and the world outside is spinning on its axle. The lady at the Prime Time Nutrition shop in Greenfield could use some gratefulness too. She never looks at you or smiles when you go in. You feel like an inconvenience to her day. She is one of the essential workers too and should make me want to go into what I call my “fruit shop,” instead of not.

The flip side of the coin was our visit to a business that is making the best of a tricky situation. I was driving to a notary job in Greenfield and I noticed an attractive location where a restaurant had set up their outdoor dining space in former parking areas to the business. The flowers and fairy lights made for a very welcoming environment. El Rinconcito on El Camino Real had indeed taken the lemons from life and made lemonade. I could see that even from a distance and I pledged to take my husband there on a lunch date. We were not disappointed. The wait staff was friendly and welcoming, the outdoor dining set nicely back from the road and the wind, and the menu delightful. My shrimp burrito ranked up there with the best of them and we pledged to return.

“Yay, we’ve found our spot!” my husband noted, imagining how nice it would be in the early evening with the pleasant lighting and ambiance. I’m sure they will do extremely well during this pandemic and beyond. They deserve to. They have accepted the rules of the new normal and turned it into an opportunity. That is what we must do! We are lucky if we have the opportunity presented to us to take another path, explore a different avenue, make the best out of a tricky situation.

For the guy in the FedEx, shame on you. Be grateful, be happy, covet the business income and security you are currently enjoying. To all those folk stressing on how they are going to make their mortgage or pay their child support, hold tight to the thought that there are many others out there like yourself and, surely, the powers that be will not want the entire economy to crumble to its knees. They will have to defer your mortgage payments to the end of the life of the mortgage, or something sensible like that.

For my part, I shall always consider myself lucky that I was able to keep working through the pandemic and maintain some semblance of normality during these difficult days. If you are also an essential worker, consider your lot and be happy. Try to be cheerful to others and make them feel welcome and important when they enter your business. As one of the lucky ones, you have a responsibility to cheer lead the rest through this pandemic and out the other side.

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