I smelled meatballs and chicken wings before I caught on that Sandy and Michelle were setting up for a party. I looked around the corner from my cubicle and noticed Billy setting up a makeshift bar.

“Can we get some music up in here?” Michelle hollered. Octavia streamed music from my computer. The fun began as Aretha Franklin belted out “What you want, baby I got. What you need. I already got it. All I’m asking is for a little respect.”

“Heeeeey! Party over here!” Sylvia yelled playfully, dancing away from her desk to the conference area where the party was set up. “R.E.S.P.E.C.T. I know that’s right!”

Madame Senator came in, dancing and snapping her fingers over her head.

“Ha! You all don’t know nothing bout Ree-Ree!” she laughed. “Ow! All I’m asking is for a little respect when you get here. Hey baby.”

Nia laughed. “Senator! I’ve never seen you dancing before,” Nia said. “Except on YouTube!” she let out another laugh.

“Senator, we love Ree-Ree!” Sylvia said, dancing to her own groove.

“You all don’t know nothing about Ree-Ree! You don’t even HAVE record players anymore….”

“We get her on Pandora’s Box!” Sylvia said.

“Pandora’s what?” Madame Senator asked.

It occurred to me that in Madame Senator’s time, “Pandora” was related to “Pandora’s Box” something secretive and sinister. She’s closer to my grandmother, G-Ma in age, and if I said something about a Pandora box to G-Ma, she would think I was talking about secrets. In my generation it’s about a choice of music, available anywhere, in the palm of your hands on a tiny, flat, square device, a smart phone. Our orientation about a lot of things is probably different from Madame Senator’s because we were steeped in entirely different circumstances in our formative years.

“Come here. Let me show you Senator. I can pull this up on your computer anytime you want,” Sylvia said, leading Madame Senator to her cubicle.

The next tune we heard was Aretha’s “Chain of Fools,” and Madame Senator smiled and swayed to the music.

“For ten long ye-eeeears! I’m just a link in your chain…” she sang. “My word! I’ve got all Aretha’s albums in my basement!” she said.

Albums are one of those small things that remind me of how much has changed in my little lifetime. Madame Senator had gone from Victrolas to record players to Eight Track Tape Players. In my lifetime, we’ve gone from Eight Track Tape Players to CD players and Walkmen to iPods and streaming music through computers, then cell phones, and we know more changes are coming. Aretha is one of those artists who brought mothers and daughters together and today she worked the same magic in our office – even if only for a moment.

“Rock steady baby…Let’s call this song exactly what it is….” I enjoyed the oldies as the party revved up.

  1. Change comes at us fast! Technology changes the way we perform basic tasks and has also changed out work habits. Life itself changes our circumstances and as we grow our understanding changes. Describe some of the biggest changes you experienced in the past five years?
  2. How did you feel about the changes – resistant, at peace with them?
  3. How can you better manage major changes in the future – big, quick changes/small gradual changes?

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