This morning on my way to Gravity Connect, the elevator in our building stopped on the fourth floor. When it opened there was a bike leaning up against the wall.
“Oh,” said a young woman I’d seen before but never talked to, “is there room?”
“Sure,” I said. I scooched over into the corner and held the door open for her.
“How are you today?” she said.
Truth was, I was tired and my stomach a little upset. “Doing all right,” I said. “How are you?”
“Good,” she said. “Great, as a matter of fact. It’s nice outside. It’s Friday.” She accidentally knocked the bike helmet she was wearing into the wall then giggled. “Yeah, I’m great.”
Normally I would accuse someone like this of being overly cheerful. I don’t like overly cheerful, especially in the morning and being a little cranky myself.
“So do you go to school? or do you work? or both?” I asked somewhat reluctantly.
“I do two things. I sell bicycles. And I work as a personal chef.” She grabbed the handlebars of her bike as the elevator neared the first floor. “It’s kind of a mish-mosh, but it’s what I do.” She sounded a little apologetic when she said the last part.
The elevator doors opened.
“I understand that,” I said. “I work for myself too.”
I should have held the front doors open for her, being that she was the one with the bike, but she opened them for me instead, deft and graceful, then pushed her bike through, and we both spilled out into the street.
We talked about the freedom, the flexibility, the independence that comes with working for yourself. Not working 8 to 5, in the same place, every day. Having more work some weeks than others. Being able to combine two loves into one career such as, say, selling bicycles and cooking for other people, if that’s where your heart leads you.
I told her I’ve been doing what she’s doing for a little over twenty years now, and I wouldn’t do it any differently. It felt good to be reminded of that talking to this young twenty-something in the nascent phase of her career, whom I strongly sensed would not last long in a cubicle.
“That is awesome,” she said. “I’m Chrissy, by the way.”
We shook hands. I took off across the street, she hopped on her bike and rode up the sidewalk. Two women, at different points in their careers, both on their own, starting work today a little later than most people, because that’s the way we like it.