The broom situation by Javier Cosío Larrarte

    Father Alarcón, former Missionary in Venezuela, was a tough man with white short hair who looked at you with content, just the way wolves look at sheep. He used to tell us stories about a School in the middle of the jungle, where all students carried guns to class because they may encounter a Jaguar in their way, so it was normal that we were a bit afraid of him. That was our Philosophy professor, a man who can not only teach you Kant’s categorical imperative but also kill a large felid with his bare hands.

    Many years ago (more that I would like to admit) I was a confident child, tiny, blond, with glasses, in the safe environment of a little school and life was all about homework, tv and friends. As part of our training, probably to teach us some value I am not able to identify right now, it was mandatory to create teams of two after class to tidy the desks and sweep the floor.  And for this purpose, every classroom had a broom well hidden behind the door.

    Did I mention I was a student representative at that time? Well, yes, I was, and for that reason, I was the one to be asked, I mean ordered, to find another broom, because the classroom was not going the be cleaned by itself. It was a super easy task. You just needed to go to the warehouse, ask  brother Narváez to give you a new broom, grab it firmly, and bring it to class. Or so I thought it was going to be, because there were no brooms left.

    I returned and reported the news immediately: father, brother Nárvaez says that there are no brooms left. So, for me, mission accomplished. What else does he want me to do, build a new one? And this sense of fulfillment lasted for a second, the moment he took to tell me: “I did not tell you to go and ASK if they had brooms. I did tell you to go and GET a broom, so you are not allowed to return to class till you get one”. A minute of shock, three consecutive “yes, father” and then I left.

    I must admit I collapsed a little. What was I going to do if the only place in the whole universe/school were I could find a broom did not have any? Panic was then my motivation and helped me to find a simple solution: I would visit every classroom in the school like a beggar asking for a spare broom, which I finally obtain (remember, tiny, blond and with glasses, I was adorable!)

    You should have seen me! I felt  triumphant as Prometheus after stealing fire from Zeus when I returned with the broom and I would have loved to tell you that I showed up with a smirk on my face, but I was not pretty sure at that time that I had succeeded, so I just said “I’ve got it” and Father Alarcón allowed me to sit.

    Since then, I understood immediately that every problem I will face in my life will require not an excuse, not avoidance, just a solution, a broom.


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