I was driving to work doing 100 on the freeway and took the turn off at 80.
Police pulled me over.
‘You’re speeding,’ he said.
I was so annoyed! I was fined $130 and would earn about $30 that day.
As a single mum with small girls I asked if there was another way to pay.
‘You can do community service’ said SPER.
‘Great. Can I do meals on wheels? I’ve always wanted to help those people.’
The corrections officer looked at his list. ‘No, not accepting community service.’
‘What about a hospital?’
‘Nope. Not that either. How about a kindergarten?’
‘Oh yes that sounds good.’
I arrived all dressed up, with my portfolio. The director barely glanced at me as she waved me to the kitchen to wash pots and pans all day.
The following week I worked hard to get those pots done so I could go back to the director with a request, but they sent me into the laundry with the other inmates.
We could hear the children behind the wall that separated us.
The pots were endless.
I went back to the director.
‘Please' I said - I’m an artist. I’ve done all my chores. Wouldn’t you like something painted for the kids?’
‘Well,’ she said, and led me to an abandoned room. ‘Can you paint something for the Christmas play?’
They gave me some sacks and some paint.
Two hours later one of the teachers came in and his eyes widened. ‘Wow’ he said. He ran out of the room and came back with two more teachers. ‘Wow’ they said. The next day the director asked if I could paint their building with ‘Noah’s ark and animals and stuff.’
‘Sure’ I said. ‘I will need some money for paint.’
I painted the top half of the building blue and the lower half green. I drew the ark, a rainbow, a bunch of animals on the front, and Australian animals by the entrance in a forest. I added vines growing around the architraves.
I finished my community service and was put on the payroll to complete the mural.
I worked there for 8 months. On weekends my daughters helped me paint.
The teachers and children were so grateful they put on a special morning tea, sang me a song and gave me a present.
I almost thanked the Department of Main Roads for this wonderful experience.
I drove past that kindergarten for about a decade before we moved to another town. I heard my mural was painted over when the building changed hands. It’s now a pristine white. But I know the mural is under there, somewhere.
GreetI am a yoga teacher, author and artist.
Blogs by Monica
Growing Emotional Intelligence