Toward the end of 2014 I wrote about Laura, “the Prettiest Girl in Manning Park.” A couple of days ago Linda and I stopped there to pick up coffees to go, and discovered that for the past year Laura has had an equally pretty work partner. Manning Park often surprises and delights us with its grandeur, beauty and fresh air. Meeting Janis was another Manning Park surprise.
When we walked into the store, which Laura manages, we sensed quickly she was even more upbeat than usual. She embraced us warmly – the first time ever.
We had not seen Laura since posting the column about her. The hugs seemed to suggest the story had been a positive experience. I mentioned that the blog had received a vast increase in visits for a few days after that post. “You must have a lot of fans,” I said. She smiled.
“The Lodge manager become aware of the post.” she explained. “He publicized it around here”. She seemed happy about the recognition.
Then she told us about Janis, a young German gal who has worked at Manning for a year. As she spoke, I began to wonder if Laura had something in mind. “Janis learned about the Lodge at the Jobs Fair in Vancouver,” she said. “Adolfo, one of the young men who works here, was at the fair. He thought she was wonderful and urged us to hire her.” She glanced at her watch. “Janis is due to come into the store in 5 minutes.” It seemed she hoped we’d wait. “Her time in Canada will be up in 4 days, but she wants to come back and live here. She says Canadians are more friendly.” Laura’s voice exuded warmth and excitement as she spoke of her work partner and friend.
While she went to serve a customer, we examined a display of warm
gloves knitted by women in Nepal. When Janis entered the store area, she and Laura spoke quietly for just a moment. Then she approached us smiling. Extending her hand she said, “hi, I’m Janis.” Her lovely face was attractively framed by auburn brown hair. It was the smile that captivated us and won us over immediately.
We asked Janis a few questions and she answered without hesitating, apparently completely trusting Laura‘s assessment of us. Her command of English was virtually flawless and her smile radiated joy. It was as though she knew about us and had anticipated our arrival and our questions. I wondered if Laura had primed her for this moment, hoping she too would be written about and have a positive experience to take back to Germany.
“When I learned about Manning Park Lodge,” Janis told us, “I wanted to work here. I met Adolfo at the Fair but I don’t remember him. There were too many distractions. He is the one who told Laura they should hire me. When I met him here, I fell in love right away, and he did too.” She smiled.
“Adolfo is from Mexico,” she continued. “In a few days I have to return to Germany. My time in Canada is up. In May I will go to Mexico.” The smile on her pretty face was that of a young woman who loves and is loved. “Adolfo and I are both interested in tourism,” she said. “I plan to go to university in Germany to get trained for it.”
Knowing we needed to let her attend to her duties at the cash register, I said “will you let me take a picture ?” I reached into the pocket of my jacket for the camera.
“Yes,” she said. Again I felt she had expected I would make this request. By now I was definitely wondering if we were following
Laura’s mental script for this occasion. After snapping several shots of her by the Manning Park Lodge fireplace, I requested a photo of Janis and Laura behind the counter. Laura put an arm around Janis. Her joy at seeing her friend get this attention warmed our hearts. Their love and caring for each other was like that of two sisters who have shared a significant life experience and have grown close.