Through the Eyes of Washingtonians

I stopped at my local Target store over the weekend. My cashier was a bubbly young woman who was getting into the holiday cheer early. As she rang me up, she shared that she likes her job a lot, but her boyfriend recently took another retail job that will pay him more money. He helped her land her job at Target and they worked together, which made carpooling super simple. But in order to keep their housing, they needed the pay raise and his new job will allow them to afford their rent. She is thankful for that, even though she misses their old routine.

This morning, I called my bank to inform them of my upcoming travel. I had another very friendly human on the line who shared with me that she is really excited for Thanksgiving tomorrow, as her fiancé will be home this year after being formerly incarcerated. I came to learn (without asking for details) that she recently suffered a miscarriage. Still, she felt very blessed that they are together, and she is looking forward to their future.

These two stories made me think about the Results Reviews we hold on the Governor’s priorities, where we really try to hear from Washingtonians to better understand their experience. These include affordable housing, re-entry for formerly incarcerated individuals, and infant mortality (upcoming in January). These topics are hard to address and make people uncomfortable, but for millions of people, these are everyday realities—part of their real human experience.

Perhaps other customers in these scenarios might have been annoyed to waste time hearing about these experiences, but their stories inspired me. I listened with empathy and humility, and thanked them both for their help and time.

I am grateful for them, for all the people we serve, and for the work happening across state government to improve the lives of Washingtonians.

Ayanna Colman is a Senior Performance Advisor with Results Washington where she works on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues and facilitates teams to improve re-entry for formerly incarcerated individuals.