FILE UNDER: Cover letters I want to send
To the Very Important Person Tasked with Skimming This Letters:
That I’m looking for a job is obvious since I’m sending you this letter, so I’ll start with I hope this finds you well. I really do. That’s just my nature. I’m writing to express interest in INSERT OFFICIAL TITLE OF POSITION THAT RIDES THE SPECTRUM OF MY BEING VASTLY OVERQUALIFIED FOR OR A 97% LONGSHOT.
While most of the cover letters you receive will highlight a specific achievement or professional experience, this is the place where the roads diverged in the woods and I decided to take the one less traveled to tell you a story. One of my references reminded me that I am highly skilled in an area you can’t teach: determination.
One fine Sunday morning, several Augusts ago, I was outside mowing my lawn. Since I was living in the Great Plains at the time, owning a home meant that seasons consisted of mowing, raking, and shoveling. It was a beautiful morning, bright and sunny. I was training for a marathon, so I’d completed my morning run with my dogs and wanted to get the yard mowed before the heat set in for the day.
The routine was to do the backyard first. Since it was fully fenced, the dogs could play while I worked and then hang out in the back when I moved to finish in the front yard. The small property typically took about an hour to mow and being an active person, I didn’t mind the extra exercise.
There was nothing fancy about the lawn mower. It was purchased used at a local hardware store, your basic small engine push mower, nothing fancy since there wasn’t a lot to mow.
We were right on schedule as I started mowing the front yard. This space always went quickly, maybe 10 minutes tops, even with the time to shut the mower off and move it down three steps. The yard was set up about 18 inches off the sidewalk, with big paver blocks that framed the area like a retaining wall. Down the steps was a small grassy area between the sidewalk and the street where two massive, old oak trees grew.
I loved those trees because of the shade they provided in the late afternoon. They were probably as old as the house, which was built in 1925. The root system had become slightly problematic in the 2010s as the roots grew and left the sidewalk uneven.
The root system became extra problematic that August morning.
With only two passes on the space between the sidewalk and the street, I’d be finished, but something about the way the root and the mower met that morning made me lose my balance and I started to fall backwards. There is a distinct memory from that moment, that moment of practically no time where I remember what felt like 10 or 12 seconds, but it was probably better measured in nanosecond. I remember thinking, “If I fall backward, I’m gonna hit my head on the pavers and maybe knock myself out. If I fall forward, I’m not sure…”
And my instincts told me not to smash my head on the pavers, but the “I’m not sure…” turned into the lawnmower dropping on my foot.
My stomach sunk as I typed that, still hearing the hum of the lawnmower go silent as I remember the feeling of the blade skimming my left foot. I was wearing shoes, the left of which had been transformed into a convertible style and was starting to fill with blood.
I scanned the neighborhood, looking for anyone who could help. There were always people walking and biking around that hood, but nothing today and I didn’t see that there was time to start hobbling around knocking on doors. Plus, I’m way too practical to pay for an ambulance ride unless we’re talking compound fractures or car accidents.
The next couple of minutes were a whirlwind of getting to the backyard, getting the dogs into the house, and grabbing my keys and purse. I remember putting the key into the ignition and saying out loud, “I just want to keep the toe so I can keep running.”
Thankfully, I only hit one light in the mile or so to the ER. The security guard at the door noticed the bloody mess hopping toward the door, got me a wheel chair, and helped me fill out the forms. My adrenaline was flying and both my right arm and leg were bouncing up and down about three inches while my left foot continued to bleed.
I’ll spare you all the details on the shots and the stitches, but the great part is that my toe is intact (mostly thanks to my wearing shoes to mow), with no nerve damage and a cool scar.
So why tell you this tale? Because someone who drove herself to the ER with a shoe full of blood and then finished the marathon she was training for six weeks to the day has a level of determination you want on your team.
As my friend, John, said, “Who gives an onion fart how much you know about Excel after hearing that? Blood toe determination for the win.”