by Robin Turnipseed

I often refer to myself as an occupational mut. Simply put, I have worked numerous jobs. I held jobs as a preschool teacher, a camp counselor, and a high school teacher, filed charts for a publishing company, aided cranky toddlers in trying on shoes at a local department store, and for a short time wrote correspondence for a non-profit organization on Capitol Hill. However, I must admit that my favorite job occurred during those summers I spent at home during my college years.

A large trucking manufacturing plant operated just down the street from my home in my small east Tennesee town. One summer, between my first and second years of college, I returned home completely broke and knowing that I needed to sit out a semester to save enough to cover the cost of the following year’s tuition. Mr. McKowen, the plant’s manager, graciously hired me.

Word of the Day

For those seven months, I worked in the company’s front office, answering phones during lunch breaks, entering invoices, and providing lunch breaks for anyone who needed them. At the end of those seven months, Mr. McKowen told me that I could return any time that I wanted. I took him up on that offer and showed up in his waiting room each June. And each June, he found me a place to work inside the company.

I would fill in for the receptionist, whose desk sat right outside his office most of the time. Each morning, Mr. McKowen would walk in, briefcase in one hand, travel mug of coffee in the other, and greet me with “Hey kiddo,” as he started work. I heard nothing but phone calls until he came out for lunch.

One morning, right before he disappeared through his office door, he noticed the “Word of the Day” calendar I placed in the far corner of my desk. From that day forward, right after he said, “Hey kiddo,” and before the calls commenced, he would call out, “what’s the word of the day?” The answer I called out was frequently greeted with an “I knew that one” response. He then gave me the definition and used it in a sentence. “Was I right?” he asked. “You are correct, sir,” I called back. He has been gone for several years now, but his kindness lingers.

A Vintage Word

Mr. McKowen would enjoy the newest word inhabiting my vocabulary- Lagniappe. Lagniappe means “a little more” or “in addition to.” Derived from the French and most frequently used by my friends from New Orleans, Lagniappe is the little extra you may not have ordered but thoroughly enjoyed. It is the small gift that is a surprising bonus.

With that in mind, I would like to introduce you to Placement of Pretty Things’ newest Lagniappe category-a space created for all the surprising little extras. It is here where you will be able to find reading lists, how-tos, Cooking with Rea & Dad videos, plus more fun vintage and nostalgia content still to come.

Yes, I think Mr. McKowen would be proud of my word for today. I can almost hear him calling out, “I knew that one kiddo.”

“You are correct, sir. You are correct.”

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