Jasmine had finally met her match.
When Jasmine was three years old, she pieced together a replica of her mother’s face with dry macaroni, Elmer’s glue, and finger paints. The portrait is still exhibited on her mother’s refrigerator.
When Jasmine was nine years old she created a model of Neil Armstrong’s spacecraft, Gemini 8, with papier-mâché and colored paper. She won second place in her school’s science fair.
When Jasmine was in high school, she made a panorama of the battle scene from Shakespeare’s Henry V. She molded each horse and soldier from red clay, and she crafted the landscape from foam and acrylics. She passed her AP English class with flying colors.
But Jasmine was finally presented with a challenge she wasn’t sure she could overcome. Early that cold spring morning, a nurse wearing bright teal-and-orange scrubs strode into Jasmine's office. The nurse was a larger woman named Linda; her huge smile and booming laugh seemed to illuminate the entire room. Jasmine pulled out her binder (which was covered in cherry-print duct tape) and pen (which she glued glitter and Hello Kitty stickers all over) and listened to Linda's story.
“So our alarm clock doesn’t go off, and we’re running to the airport. Half of my things are in Mark’s bag, and half of his things are in mine. I swear we left a trail of socks and toothpaste behind us the entire way!" Linda gave a chipper chuckle as she told her story, and Jasmine instinctively smiled with her. "Anyway, we make it to the airport, and we get to security, and TSA is just tearing through every little piece of junk in our carry on bag. Now granted, we’ve got some random things in our bags. I mean, my husband somehow ends up with one of the hotel’s hand towels and several of my nail polishes. Up to this point, Mark and I are just cracking up at how ridiculous the whole situation is, but TSA wasn't laughing with us.
"They started examined every item individually. Of course, we start to get nervous. You see, at this point, we only have twenty minutes to make our flight. We need to get out of security soon. But then they find Mark’s shoe.”
“He wore these giant ugly sneakers to the Moab Desert. I kept telling him, 'They're going to get destroyed! The Moab Desert is famous for quicksand!' Sure enough, he sunk into some while we were on vacation. It took me almost an hour to pull him out! Here, check this out.”
Linda grabs her bag out from under her chair and pulls out the most disgusting sneaker Jasmine had ever seen. She swore she could have smelled the shoe before she saw it. The whole thing was calloused in mud and dirt, and the bottom of the heel was breaking apart.
“So this shoe ended up in my luggage, while the other one was in Mark’s carry on. Mark doesn't know I have it; he assumes TSA took both shoes. To be honest, I had a feeling these shoes wouldn't go through. I mean, look at them! But he had to have them. He keeps saying that they’re some sort of memento of his survival. I think he’s just being melodramatic, but that’s me. Anyway, the one security officer just picks up the shoe and shakes his head, and Mark knows exactly what he’s thinking. He starts shouting, ‘Don’t you dare take away my shoe! Don’t you dare!’” Linda starts laughing again. “Honey, let me give you some advice. If you want to get to your flight on time, don’t argue with security!”
Although they both laughed, Jasmine felt a nervous swelling in her stomach. She had a feeling she would have to do something with that sneaker, and the last thing she really wanted to do was touch it.
“Anyway, we always play practical jokes on each other, but with me starting this new job at the hospital, we really didn’t have a lot of time to plan anything. But I did come up with a crazy idea the other day. Like I said, he doesn’t realize that I have this shoe, and I know he’s been missing it like crazy. So I thought that you could put it in a box and send it to his office. But then you should leave a note that says something like‘You owe the post office forty bucks for postage,’ or something like that!” She laughed at her own little prank. “He’s so frugal, and he’d hate to pay for something that was always his!”
“So that’s all you want me to do? Stick this shoe in a box and leave it on his desk with a note?”
Linda laughed. “That’s it. It’s simple, yet effective, right?”
Jasmine nodded in agreement, although she felt a little lost. The job sounded simple enough—and it was—but Jasmine wasn’t known for doing simple things. As an employee at Errand Solutions, she was known for taking simple things and making them beautiful or gorgeous or touching. The crafts she used to do as a kid transitioned into her work at Errand Solutions. When the hospital celebrated the opening of a new wing for cardiac patients, Jasmine crocheted plush hearts for all the doctors and nurses. For Christmas, she not only put up the tree, but crafted each decoration out of tongue depressors, hot glue, and Sharpies. Even her entire office seemed to shine from the glitter left behind from previous projects.
But the thought of that muddy, disgusting shoe somehow created a roadblock in her creativity. She couldn’t think of that little touch that tiny spark, to make Linda’s prank come to life. As she stood behind her desk in her office, staring at that dirty shoe, she felt like Dr. Frankenstein, standing over her dead creation, filled with frustration.
“Somehow I need to think outside the box,” she thought to herself.
And that’s when it hit her, the box. Next to the shoe was an old postal box Jasmine had picked up downstairs. Suddenly all the pieces started fitting together. She pulled out her sharpies and started writing different addresses all over the box. She then pulled out a pink hammer from the bejeweled toolbox she kept under her desk and pounded the walls of the box. She even tore a few holes in it with her fingers. Jasmine then placed the shoe in the middle of the box, and covered the whole thing with various stamps and address labels around her desk. She then wrapped it several times around with masking tape. Finally—the pièce de résistance—she shook the box several times so the dirt from the shoe would cover the inside of the box.
Never before had Jasmine been so proud of a project she had done at Errand Solution. She even kind of liked how gross it looked; to her, it represented the tumultuous yet loving adventures Linda and Mark were always getting into. When Linda finally got to see the box, she cracked up, and her laugh filled the room with so much joy that Jasmine couldn’t help but smile.
“That was the best idea ever! Oh, he’s going to be so mad he’s not going to know what to do! I love it! Love it!”
“You’re too sweet, Ms. Linda!”
A few days later, when she snuck into Mark’s office building and placed the box outside his door, she realized that there was always some beauty in the ugliest and smelliest of things, even in a pair of muddy sneakers. After that project, she was never afraid to get her hands a little dirty.