Monday and Tuesday I worked alone. My school is almost one hundred years old, doesn't have air conditioning, and it was hot, slow, boring work. Tuesday afternoon, I ran into Chaz, who was at school registering for eighth grade. I adore this young woman and it was fun to see her after three months away. I jokingly said, "Wanna come help me stamp books tomorrow?" She said she would ask her mom, and a few minutes later, she hunted me down in the library, "My mom says I can. What time should I come?" I told her to come after 7:30.
Wednesday morning she arrived at 7:35. We stamped and talked. She told me that her mother and father hadn't even finished high school, but were determined to have their daughters graduate from college. She told me about her older sister who had a baby at 16, but had gone on to get her GED, and is now attending a local university, with dreams of becoming a lawyer. She told me about how she had helped her dad, who doesn't read very well and can't spell well enough to send a readable text message, to earn his CDL license so he could drive semi's. "We studied every night for three weeks," she said, "and then he took the test. You can miss six, but he only missed four. He was so proud."
On Thursday, Zena and Rosa came to help. Both girls were students at my school, but are now older. Zena started college this week. She thinks she wants to be a teacher. I think she'd be a great one- super hard working, sweet, organized, a gorgeous smile. Her younger sister, Rosa, is a junior in high school. Rosa and I stamped mythology books together. She told me she hated mythology and had almost failed freshman English because she didn't understand "all that gods and goddesses stuff." She continued, "Only one person taught it, I didn't understand him. I would go in and ask and he just thought I was stupid. I wasn't stupid the year before with Ms. S. I really liked English in eighth grade. I got A's. Ms. S doesn't give those to anybody, you have to work really hard. I don't know how I got so stupid in ninth grade. "
On Friday, sweet Carlos came and helped. He was a little slower stamping because he kept stopping to read. He was especially interested in a book called THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA. "I really want to read this," he said. When I told him he could take it home, he slid it carefully into his backpack. He told me about a trip to El Salvador, to meet his mother's family. "I cried when we left," he said. "I have never seen my mother's family before and I don't know if I will ever see them again. It costs a lot of money to go to Salvador."
Last week, I stamped 5,000 books. The stories I heard made it worth all the stamping.