The day was grey, the water an ice-covered, bleak white stretching to the horizon. Yet, I sat in my studio and gazed deep into the recesses of the emptiness to find spring, to find color. I squinted until fatigue set in. I took a walk.
Around the corner, I headed north on Howard Street, and it was at Gaslight Group Properties I spied a yellow piece of paper taped to the glass entry door: “Come to the office for friendlinyss.” Well now, having never seen such a sign, I of course entered. My day could use a little “friendlinyss.”
To my surprise, Pete Platte, sitting comfortably in an easy chair, called out, “Cope, you got your first customer.”
From a side office in the real estate office, bolted this charming young lady casually adorned in a green sweatshirt, some rose-colored tights, and delightful blue-rimmed glasses. There was a sparkle in her eye, a confidence in her speech, and an affect that smiled without a grin. She pressed her lips tight so as not to appear gregarious, but once words emanated from the diminutive princess, the seven-year-old Copeland McCarthy from Central Elementary School in Petoskey was hard to reign in.
“My sign has been up ten minutes. You’re the first person to come in,” she began.
When I asked how long she’d been employed she quickly spouted, “I’ve been on the job seven years.”
And what is your job, I inquired.
“Making history,” she shot back without hesitation.
Whoa. Making history? That’s quite a title. As a journalist, I wasn’t quite sure where to go with that. I mean, seven years old and her job title is to make history, what else can be said, or written. Any noun, verb, or adjective would be superfluous. Even a dangling participle falls to the ground in an attempt to make a statement such as that.
I probed deep into the heart of this grade-schooler who barely stood past my knees. I was curious to know what she did in her downtime.
“I like to go to Threads.”
Threads? Nice. A well-branded and very visible store up the block specializing in higher-end clothing and couture.
Copeland continued: “I like to dress like royalty,” she quipped as she floated her hand in front of her face demonstrating a superlative Queen Elizabeth wave.
We sat for a moment staring at each other in the conference room as I pondered my next question. I asked where she might extend such courtesy to the public with an appearance this weekend.
“I’m going to the Slush Cup. Ah, that would be a skiing event.”
I see I noted. Writing as fast as I could, she glanced at the pad of paper I was using.
“That’s all you’ve written?” she said with an audible gasp.
I explained that these were notes, and I would fill in the gaps with further material once the creative process began.
She shook her head as if to say, “You’re so full of bologna. You’re dealing with a highly intelligent human being here. Don’t forget, my job is to make history.” As I tried to read these words into her change of mood, my only retort was to establish some sort of age dominance – futile as it was. I did relate that she would be the star in this story, and it would go to tens of thousands of readers.
“You mean I’m going to be famous?” She blurted out with eyes growing to the size of half-dollars.
I smiled and said yes. You will be famous.
On that note, she arose from her chair and returned to the lobby where the Gaslight staff had been watching and listening. Her eminence evoked laughter and approval. Pictures were taken, and goodbyes were said.
I left feeling a sense of wonder and delight. My step was quicker and my thoughts brighter. But most of all, I wanted to pass along to everyone a most sincere form of “friendlinyss.”