Window Garden
Glowin' Like the Metal on the Edge of a Knife

Driving Ms. Gloria

"Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities.  Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning."

--- Gloria Steinem

It's March -- which makes it Women's History Month.  And today - March 8 - is International Women's Day.  An appropriate time to tell you a story.  About the day I was the driver. 

For Gloria Steinem.

Gloria Steinem

It was 1992 when Gloria came to town.  I was 33 years old.  Living in Grand Rapids.  Working for a women's foundation.  Mommy to a toddler and a baby.  And a huge fan of Gloria Steinem since my teen years!

To further set the mood and tone, consider this.  Gloria Steinem was coming to town on the day after the 1992 Presidential election.  The election Bill Clinton won.  The timing couldn't have been better for the organizers of the Big Event!

So Gloria came to Grand Rapids, and she gave a rocking, rolling, inspriational talk for a standing-room-only crowd.  It was awesome.  The next day, she was going to speak at the Council of Michigan Foundations conference in Battle Creek -- just a little over an hour drive away -- and then on to the Kalamazoo airport.

I got the call.

Kym, how would you like to drive Gloria to Battle Creek?

In my mini-van?

Yes.

And so it was.  I was going to spend the day with one of my personal (s)heroes!  I was going to drive Gloria Steinem!  I scrambled to clean the kid-detritus out of my mini-van.  (Except for the car seats.  They had to stay.)  I stressed about what to wear.  (I wore black.)  I worried that I would say something stupid.  Or babble.  Or that my mouth would gape open.  Or that I would get a ticket.  Or get lost.

But, really.  It was all just fine.

I met her for breakfast.  She was . . . just like you'd expect Gloria Steinem to be!  Smart.  Astute.  Confident.  And completely engaging and easy to talk to.  Very down-to-earth.  Very . . . comfortable.

Since we had plenty of time, she asked if I'd show her around Grand Rapids.  So we hopped in my mini-van, and off we went.  As we passed the local offices of Planned Parenthood, she asked if we could stop in.  So we did.  She just walked through their offices and said hello.  And thanked them for their important work.  And then got back in my mini-van and we headed for Battle Creek.

Part way there, as we were hurtling down the highway south to Battle Creek, Gloria Steinem asked me if I'd mind if she took a bit of a nap.

Oh, no, I said.  Not at all, I said.  And I began explaining how to put the seat back.

But, no.

Gloria Steinem was climbing into my back seat!  Where the car seats were.  She unbuckled them and tossed them into the "way back" (as Erin called it).  Brushed the crumbs and cheerios and crumpled dinosaur stickers onto the floor.  And laid down on my mini-van seat for her nap!

(While I was driving down the highway.)

I was sort of mortified.  (Who knows what you'll find under car seats!)  But, like I said.  Gloria Steinem was completely down-to-earth.  Very easy and comfortable to be around.

And there she was.  Napping on the back seat of my mini-van.

The day went like clockwork.  We arrived in Battle Creek.  She gave a keynote presentation.  I took her to the airport.  She hugged me and thanked me when I dropped her off.

I'll never forget it!  My stint . . . Driving Ms. Gloria!

 

Comments

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margene

You've been holding out on us. You are a multi-talented chauffeur and Gloria was very fortunate to have such an accomplished woman as her driver. I would have been gape-mouthed and awestruck. You held it together!

Patty

Wow! That is quite the day my friend, both of you lucked out!

Debbie

Wow! What a great day for both you & Gloria!

Marilyn

Oh wow! What a cool story and what an amazing memory to have! Do you have any other stories hidden away? :)
Thanks for sharing!
xoxo

Vicki

I have GOOSEBUMPS!! ;)

Rachel

What an adventure - good for you! :)

Carole

This is a fantastic story and I'm so glad you shared it. What an awesome memory. And yes, I'm totally jealous!

Melissa G

Isn't it wild the places life puts us?

kitten

In 1992 I didn't actually know who Gloria Steinem was. (What can I say? I was sheltered.) I can tell you that if such a thing happened in my current vehicle, Ms. Steinem would be permanently pasted to the back seat due to the various and sundry spillings of juice and hot cocoa back there...

Susan

GREAT story! Gloria Steinem was one of my heroes (heroines?) back in the day as well. I never met her or had a chance to see her or hear her speak in person, but I am the proud owner of the first issue of "Ms" magazine! Eventually, before a move, I discarded any other issues I had been saving, but I thought the "inaugural" issue might have some value some day.

Barbara S

Wow....what a wonderful memory! How exciting that must have been.

Mary

what a GREAT story!! and I love the quotation you chose to begin the post. (and wow, look how much has changed...and how much hasn't...in the past 20 years!)

kathy b

Fascinating...I LOVED your celeb story~!

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