Aurora M. Lewis is a retiree, having worked in financial institutions for over 40 years. In her late 50’s she received a Certificate in Creative Writing-General Studies, with honors from UCLA. Aurora’s poems, short stories, and nonfiction have been accepted by The Literary Hatchet, Gemini Magazine, Persimmon Tree, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and Jerry Jazz Magazine, to name a few.
I don’t know exactly when it came to me, maybe in 1960 when I was ten. I saw Ruby Bridges on television walking with White men dressed in suits, escorting her down those stone building steps on her first day at school. Perhaps it was when I heard someone shout nigger at her? Just when did I become aware that there may be people who hated me as well? Ruby was so small, surrounded by screaming White people, their faces contorted with hatred, Ruby’s little face so frightened. I was afraid for her and for myself because I could be her. The image of Ruby resonated with me throughout my childhood, such contempt for a little Black girl who just wanted to go to school.
I was born in 1950, Los Angeles California. We lived in Avalon Gardens, a diverse low- income public housing project. Originally, it was built for veterans, with green lawns, oleander bushes, and purple jacaranda trees. My father had been a hospital orderly when he returned from the Korean War, but in 1957 he became an L.A. County Sheriff, the first of five Blacks to join the force. With the raise in income, he purchased a house in Compton, California using his VA. Benefits. Back then Compton was predominately White. However, a housing development was built specifically for Black Vets. I remember that my parents were so excited because there was no down payment required and we would be moving from the projects.
As mentioned, my father served in the Korean War, as had my uncle, who also purchased a home in the same housing development. Most of the children at my school were White. There were other Black children in my class, about four or five, and we pretty much stuck together. They all lived in that same housing development. Our teacher was nice but, seemed to look through us most of the time, seldom calling on us. I have a sensing that she just tolerated us. We all sat together in the back of the classroom.
One of our class activities was role play with several large doll houses and farms. In both cases a boy and girl played the roles of the mother and father. Another boy and girl played the son and daughter. This day, we were going to do role play with the doll houses. It was my turn, I was hopeful that a Black boy named Gerard would be my pretend husband. He had curly brown hair and light brown eyes, I thought he was cute. Instead the teacher selected another boy, Joe Louis (named after the boxer) because our last names sounded the same. I was so disappointed, I didn’t find Joe cute at all. However, he was excited and happy that I was his pretend wife. I can still see his big toothy grin smiling at me.
Gerard would play our son and a little Black girl would be our daughter. In role play we never mixed races, unless there were not enough Black children in the class that day. If that did occur, a White one would be a child, never a spouse. l was so upset about Joe being my husband, I wouldn’t participate in the role play. The teacher sent me to my seat. Joe looked so disappointed as well as the other two children. I was stubborn and had my perceptions of how I wanted things to go., which has always stayed with me.
We didn’t live in the house in Compton very long. New Sheriffs were not put on patrol for two years. My father walked off his job because he wanted to be in the field, but they kept him on office duties. Later, he said he never wanted to be a Sheriff, he only applied because my mother encouraged it. He didn’t think he’d be accepted, considering he was a Negro. My father left us and went back to Kansas where he grew up. While he was gone his sergeant came to our house to pick up my father’s badge and gun, which were in the hall closet. My mother was a very beautiful woman. She told me years later that the man had offered her a “job” as a call girl working for him. He said she could make a lot of money, since my father had left, he knew she could use it, considering our circumstances. He claimed to have clean White clients that would love a beautiful Colored girl like her. She politely told him no thanks, she’d be fine. My mother said the sergeant came by a couple of more times to try and convince her to work for him, but she refused and was very insulted.
We weren’t fine, we were in big trouble. My parents had purchased new furniture from an upscale department store when we moved into the new house. One day a large truck pulled up in front of our house without warning, picked up our still new furniture and took it away. The cute boy Gerard was standing in front of our house and asked why they were taking our furniture? I lied, I was embarrassed, I said they had delivered the wrong furniture and was taking it back to get the right stuff.
My mother found a small job in a shirt factory that was not nearly enough to sustain us let alone pay the mortgage. Around Christmas she lost that job, however she got a temporary one with Mattel’s the toy company. She scraped together enough money to buy my brother a bright blue racing car that we always saw on a T.V. commercial. There was a doll for me. I don’t remember what my doll looked like, but I sure do remember that car.
Not being able to pay the mortgage, we moved to my grandparent’s house. While we were there my mother would take us to a friend’s who lived in Watts. My mother obtained another small job. She didn’t want my grandmother to have to watch us while she worked. She felt we were enough of a burden. I enrolled in a school in the neighborhood where my mother’s friend lived. I think I was in the 4th grade. My class was far behind the class I had been in at my last school. The top or smartest group was using third grade books I had used the semester before.
I told my teacher who looked perplexed and didn’t know what to say. The other children in the group looked at me in surprise. I think there was a perception by that school district that these poor Black children in Watts were not as smart as other children. This held them intentionally back. When I told my mother, she and my grandmother decided I would go to school in my grandparents’ school district, which was Black middle class. I was back on track with the right books for my grade. Not long after, my mother went on welfare and she rented a small house in another part of town.
Our new neighborhood was predominately Black, located in South Central Los Angeles. There was a spattering of White kids at my school. A White boy in my class named Billy was a cute little chubby boy with blond hair that was a little too long, as crew cuts were in style. Billy was the only White child in my class. We were having a Halloween Party and part of the festivities was to tell jokes and stories. A girl, Marilyn, told one about a White man, a Mexican man, and a Colored man. In this type of joke the Colored man was always the fool, the ignorant buffoon. After Marilyn told her joke the class broke out in a big laugh, all but the teacher.
Our teacher, a Black man asked for a volunteer to take some cookies next door to another teacher’s class. Everyone, including Billy raised their hand, the teacher selected Billy. When Billy was gone our teacher told us as Negroes we should never tell these kinds of jokes about our race being foolish or ignorant. He explained that such jokes were a put down to our race and that we should be proud of who we were and to never forget it. I took what he said to heart, never forgetting that lesson, and I never told those kinds of jokes. He also told us he sent Billy on the errand because this was something we needed to hear, not Billy, as these jokes weren’t told to make fun of his race. Our teacher was wrong, Billy should have heard this lesson as well. How else could he have learned not tell such jokes?
When I was about eleven we moved to what was called the West Side. Our neighborhood was a mixture of Black, White, and Hispanic families. We were all friends except Lorraine who was White, thirteen, and still in elementary school in a special education class. Lorraine’s eyes were bugged, crossed, and she was mentally challenged, although we didn’t call it that back then. Lorraine told us she wasn’t allowed to play with the Colored kids and her mother told her not to show the Colored boys her panties. We had seen her in the alley with White boys, but we didn’t know what they were doing. None of us wanted to hang out with her anyway, we thought she was weird. After a few years, the White families moved away as they usually do. The junior high and high school I attended were still mixed and I still had friends of different races, but at home my friends were Black.
As time went on there were more horrific sights on the television after Ruby Bridges. There were Black people being beaten, dogs being set on them, water hoses shot with so much force knocking people to the ground, causing them to roll down the streets, in faraway places like Detroit, Mississippi, and Alabama. When I was thirteen, four girls my age were killed from a bombing at a church in the South, I was stunned. This kind of thing didn’t happen where I lived, not in Compton or Los Angeles. I heard about incidents of racists’ remarks and things that the police did to Black people where I lived, but as a child I wasn’t exposed to it to a point that I was personally affected.
Looking back to 1961 through 1968 I found there were 28 documentations of Black and White, women and men, civil rights activists who were murdered. The majority took place in Alabama and Mississippi. To this day I have no desire to visit either state. These were places I vowed I would never go.
John F. Kennedy, Robert E. Kennedy, Malcom X, and Martin Luther King, Jr., were assassinated during those turbulent times. Due to the Civil Rights Movement spearheaded by Martin Luther King, Jr’s leadership, John F. Kennedy’s, and Lyndon Baines Johnson’s diligence to push equality through the Congress, The Civil Rights Act signed by Johnson was passed in 1964. With it came Affirmative Action giving minorities equal opportunities for education and employment. Although, I was fourteen the Civil Rights Act would greatly impact my life.
In 1965, came the Watts Riot in Los Angeles, which started a few miles from my grandparent’s house. It erupted just west of Watts, but it was close enough to say it was Watts. After the riot started there were tanks rolling down our street with armed National Guards, although there was no rioting on the West Side where we lived. As I watched the riot on T.V., I could relate to the anger and frustration of the people running around, destroying property, stealing from store fronts. It was during that time I changed. The murders of Civil Rights workers, the four little girls bombed in a church, my memory of Ruby Bridges, the murder of John F. Kennedy, and so much more had an effect on me.
I started reading books; Nigger by Dick Gregory, The Autobiography of Malcom X, James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, books by Louis Lomax (who was also on T.V.), and others. I followed closely the words of Malcom X, Huey P. Newton, Stokely Carmichael, and H. Rap Brown. I went to US meetings run by Maulana Ron Karenga, to my mother and grandparents’ dismay. I cut my hair short and fashioned it into an Afro and then let it grow out large and full like Angela Davis. I was not a devotee of Martin Luther King Jr. I wanted something to happen, something big, to put a stop to the injustices perpetrated on my people. I thought violence was the answer, I was longing, impressionable, young, and filled with the rhetoric of my heroes. My adherence to a violent revolution didn’t last, there was a better way evidenced by Martin Luther King, Jr. The revolution never came.
My last year in high school I stayed with my grandparents while my mother and family moved to Pomona California. My mother was able to purchase a house through a special program for low income families. She needed a $200 down payment, which she received from my grandfather. The monthly mortgage would be $127, less than she was paying for a two-bedroom apartment for what was now the six of us. This house had three bedrooms and two bathrooms. It was a nice house in a mixed middleclass neighborhood. My mother enrolled in a nursing program offered to welfare mothers, she became a nurse’s aide, and later an LVN, (Licensed Vocational Nurse).
As Blacks moved in, Whites moved out. One of the few Whites still living on our street lived next door. Their little boys played with my sister, but my mother had no contact with the parents, not so much as a wave. One day the woman came over with a large bag of used clothes and gave them to my mother. It was the first time they had spoken to each other. My mother took the bag, thanked her, and that night threw them in the trash. The woman was probably trying to be nice, but it was insulting to my mother. We did not need her old clothes. My mother said some White woman was always trying to give Black people their trash. The family moved a few months later. Jokingly, my mother said they moved because their sons was too attached to my sister, they might grow up and want to date her. This may have been a contributing factor in their move.
After I graduated from high school I moved reluctantly to Pomona to live with my mother and siblings. The year before, I still lived with my grandparents, but had to spend the summer in Pomona with my mother. I didn’t like it in Pomona, I had never lived around mostly White people and their hostility was apparent when we walked down the streets or went to the local mall. Wearing my hair in an Afro didn’t help.
When I moved home, I enrolled in Mt. SAC, a community college, which originally had been a mental hospital. I only stayed a short time, I didn’t even finish the quarter. There was just a hand full of Black students at Mt. SAC. We stuck together when we were on breaks, sitting under a large tree we claimed as our territory. The White students didn’t interact with me, in classes I was ignored. I enrolled in a Gymnastics Dance class and no one would offer to be my partner, I did my exercises alone. I was miserable. This was nothing like the schools I attended in Los Angeles, where I had friends of all races. I had never been ostracized before.
There was a school bus that went through the neighborhoods picking up students in the morning and dropping the off in the early evening. Only the Black students rode this bus, except an older White Instructor who looked to be in his 60s. He was also my councilor. Our bus driver never engaged in social conversation with us, he wouldn’t even make eye contact. He was a young White guy who wore a military haircut and was very gruff. One morning, he lit into us, he was furious. He shouted that we were dirty and always left the bus a mess. He shouted we were a pack of animals, among other things. We just looked at him as if he had lost his mind, some even snickered. The Instructor didn’t say anything, but his face looked upset. I thought it was at us and he was in agreement with the bus driver.
When we reached the college, he waited until the bus driver stormed off, which he usually did before the riders got off. The Instructor stopped us, he said that the driver shouldn’t have spoken to us in that manner, it was his job to clean the bus. He apologized for the bus driver, saying he would take care of the problem, and this would never happen again.
That evening before the bus driver took off to drive us home he apologized. He said the Instructor was very angry about the way he spoke to us, calling us animals. The driver explained that he had been to Viet Nam, causing him to be too rough with us. He admitted that his job was in jeopardy. He just wanted us to clean up our trash. His apology seemed sincere considering his job was on the line and the Instructor was drilling a hole through him with his eyes. After that we picked up our trash and there were no more problems, at least not on the bus.
The defining moment for me leaving school and eventually moving back to Los Angeles was an incident in my history class. This Instructor was lecturing on the Civil War and proceeded to say that Negroes were better off as slaves. I was the only Black student in the class. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I raised my hand to refute what he had said. He refused to call on me or even look at me. He kept talking about how badly off Negroes were without the comforts of slavery, having a place to live, and food to eat. I didn’t know what to do, I felt hot, and sick to my stomach. A young White man sitting behind me started waving his hand, telling the Instructor he was wrong. He told the young man to be quiet. With that I got up and walked out. I never went back to that school. I didn’t feel I had an option.
I went with another Black woman I knew to a job fair that was being held at a Black church. We both were hired by a hosiery plant with headquarters in the South. I am sure we were hired as the results of Affirmative Action. The people who spoke with us were clearly from the South, which caused me some concern. A test I was given which indicated I was ambidextrous, that was news to me. When we started work we found that we were the only Blacks. The Whites that worked there were openly hostile and rude.
The Black woman and I worked as a team boarding nylon tubes on columns of metal formed legs that went through a steam machine that shaped the stockings. Often, when we went on break, upon our return our finished stockings would be all messed up, sometimes wet from the water hoses used during the process. We’d have to start over, defective products and a low quantity counted against us. One day we had enough and the woman I was teamed with started spraying the women closest to our work station with water. They didn’t say or do anything, just got out of the way and laughed. Whoever was tampering with our production stopped.
The day after Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, we were sitting in the lunch area outside taking a break. Several Whites were sitting across from us laughing and joking about how happy they were that Bobby Kennedy was killed. They could see the anger in my face as I glared in their direction. They just kept laughing. I hadn’t come to terms with the death of John Kennedy in 1963 when I was in junior high school. Bobby Kennedy’s death in 1968 was as painful to me as the President’s. Many of us thought Bobby Kennedy would take over where the President had left off.
I quit working at the plant because I developed a rash from the stockings, which caused my fingers and hands to breakout. There was no compensation. I also had to pay for my own doctor; my grandfather paid it for me. I decided Pomona wasn’t for me. I went back to my grandparents in L.A. I got a job at the telephone company and an apartment I shared with a friend. There were only three Black women in the telephone company department where I worked. We handled teletype operations for hospitals and hotels customer telephone charges. One of the Black women that worked with me was a supervisor. She also was attending college. I looked up to her and felt there would be opportunities for me as well.
Working in the teletype department was daunting, due to the manager. She appeared to be very fond of my supervisor and the other young Black woman. I supposed they was the type of Black women this manager approved. There was nothing Afrocentric about them. The manager made it very clear that she didn’t like me. I was the only one with an Afro and I didn’t wear much makeup, unlike the others. The manager had a habit of coming by my chair at the switchboard, asking me questions about my hair, why I didn’t wear it like the other girls, what did my hair that way mean? She also had a habit of patting my hair, which infuriated me. I could only cringe and try to move my head.
One of our duties was to take turns sending rubber bands in a canister up a vacuum tube to the floor above, where they made out the tickets to do the teletype orders. I didn’t understand how this whole process of sending the rubber bands worked. On the floor above, someone would put rubber bands around the tickets and then put them into a canister that had a hole on two sides. The canister was put in the vacuum tube and sent down to my floor. The floor above had run out of rubber bands and asked us to send some back. When I was told to send them, I just placed them in the canister and away they went. After several hours of not receiving any tickets, it was found that the vacuum tube was stacked with canisters, that were stuck. When I sent my canister up I was supposed to put the rubber bands in an envelope first. The rubber bands were sucked from the canister holes and formed a block, preventing any canisters from coming through. A technician had to cut through the tube to release the canisters.
When the manager found out what caused the problem and who caused it, she stomped over to my chair. In front of everyone she screamed at me how stupid I was, how much production I had stopped, how much money I had cost the company. She went on and on, I tried to tell her I didn’t know how I was supposed to send the rubber bands, no one had told me. She just kept on hollering and finally told me I would probably lose my job.
The next day when I came to work our Union Representative, an older White woman, asked to speak with me in the break room. She never smiled and always wore a white lace blouse and a black wool skirt, as if it were a uniform. She had grey almost white hair worn in a style like the 1940’s. I was afraid she was going to tell me I was fired. Instead, she said she had filed a grievance on my behalf regarding what had taken place with our manager. Her role as my Union Rep., among other things, was to protect me from harassment by management. She gave me her home number and said to call if anything else like that happened that she didn’t observe.
After the grievance was filed the manager called me into her office with the Union Rep. and apologized. She no longer stopped by my chair or spoke to me, but she got back at me in another way that the Union Rep couldn’t do anything about. The department had different shifts. Initially, I worked 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. My shift changed to 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. I lived over an hour away by bus. I was always late and of course in trouble with a warning of termination. My new supervisor on this shift was a 60ish White woman named Mary, who sat down next to me one day. She told me that she and the Union Rep. had discussed what was going on with me and that they would do everything they could to protect me, as I was a good worker. I was surprised: now two White women were coming to my aid. Mary asked for my phone number, so she could call me every morning at 4:30 a.m. to wake me up. Mary’s calls were a God send, I was no longer late for work. I so appreciated her help and kindness.
Being on time didn’t stop the manager. My shift was changed again to nights. If you got off at 12:00 a.m. the telephone company provided you with a cab home. My shift ended at 11:00 p.m., no cab. I had to take the bus, arriving home well after 12:00 a.m. I was terrified and would run the five blocks home to my apartment. Occasionally, my aunt, a nurse who worked at a hospital not far from my job, would give me a ride if her shift coincided with mine, but usually I was on my own. Mary was no longer my supervisor and there was nothing she or the Union Rep. could do about shift assignments. I couldn’t take it any longer, I looked for another job.
I got a position at a bank as a loan clerk. The now defunct bank was located in Baldwin Hills, where many Black celebrities and athletes lived. Some were customers at my bank. Our branch manager was named Jefferson Jergerson and he was the classic stereotype of a Southern White racist. I was one of two Blacks this time and I was still wearing that Afro. Whenever he looked in my direction he had a scroll. The only time he spoke to me was to tell me I had done something wrong. I overheard him once tell another manager that if the other Black girl did whatever she had done that he didn’t like he would “kick her black ass.” I stayed as far away from him as possible. He loved it when the famous Black football players came into the office. He’d always go over to them, invite them to sit at his desk with a cup of coffee, and talk football. His son was in high school and was a football player with hopes of going professional.
I didn’t like working at this bank and decided to sign up with an employment agency. I was given a series of tests and they found that my skills were applicable to banking. The owner of the agency met with me after my tests. She told me they were impressive. She placed me with another bank where I was hired as a teller. I stayed for over twenty years, rising in the ranks. Occasionally, she would call about a job that may be of interest, but I was happy at the bank and never went on any interviews.
It was 1971, I was twenty-one. The bank where I was hired was in the garment district. My co-workers were very friendly, as well as the customers. Again, most of the people I worked with were Whites. There were two other Black women who worked with me on the teller line as tellers. They had little to do with me. Someone told me they overheard them saying I talked like a White girl, that I was always up in the White girls’ faces, kissing the asses of my White customers. I liked my customers who frequently gave me items from their showrooms. Some would stand in my line waiting for me, even if another window was free. It wasn’t because I kissed their asses, it was because I was very fast, more than competent, and pleasant. My personality and work ethic led to a promotion as Chief Teller in less than a year. Of course, that didn’t help much with the two women, but they lightened up a little. They started speaking to me and sometimes engaged in minimal conversations, but still stayed at a distance.
I spoke the way everyone in my family spoke and like the kids at most of my schools. My mother didn’t allow improper English, maybe that was the reason I didn’t speak Ebonics, or much slang. Because the two Black women were not interested in my friendship, the other girls were. My friends where two Whites, a Hispanic, and a Japanese American girl. We were as thick as thieves. I participated in the Hispanic girl’s wedding. I stood at the church entrance and directed people to sign her wedding book. I did get some quizzical looks, I was the only Black person there. One of my friends who looked just like a famous actress was my closest friend. We talked about trying to open a secondhand store. Although, I haven’t seen her in years, we occasionally talk on the phone or via email and social media. Since 1971, she has always sent me a birthday card. I will admit that sometimes mine gets to her a little late.
After working as a teller for a couple of years, I saw there was an opening in the Wire Services Department, which would be another promotion. Thanks to the job I had at the telephone company in the teletype department I got the position. I transferred to the bank’s service center, still in downtown L.A. I learned so much about moving money around the world and about computers. My new supervisor, a Jewish man, took me under his wing and taught me a great deal outside of my normal duties. Later, in the 1990’s we both went to California Banking School as neither of us had degrees. Eventually, we became Vice Presidents. He was my dearest friend, we ate lunch together, socialized together. He was a genius with a great sense of humor. When he married his wife, who is Black, the three of us would go on day-trips in California and on trips to Las Vegas. She became one of my dearest friends as well. He and I remained close after I left the bank, until he passed away a few years ago.
During the 70’s while I was working, I also attended night classes at a city college. It was always my intention to get a degree after I left Mt. SAC. I majored in finance, but I took classes in African American History as electives. Before college I was only taught about the Civil War, a soft tale of slavery, Harriet Tubman, and Booker T. Washington. There was a plethora of Black History and the Harlem Renaissance that fueled my awareness and my desire to be a writer. I read books by Richard Wright, W.E.B. Dubose, and Langston Hughes to name a few. I was always an avid reader but, did not know about Black writers except through the books I read during my Black militant period. In high school, I enrolled and thoroughly enjoyed American and English Literature, although these classes did not include the works of Black writers. It was my secret desire to be a writer. When I was in my late 50s I enrolled into a Creative Writing Program at UCLA, receiving a Certificate with Honors. I have had some success with my writing.
In the late 80’s my daughter and I moved from Los Angeles to Moreno Valley California, some 60 miles east of Los Angeles. I ran into a childhood friend who had moved there. She told me how nice it was and that mortgages were very affordable. I visited her many times and looked at several model homes until I found the right one. It had four bedrooms, two baths, a huge yard, and it was brand new. I kept my job in L.A. making the 60-mile commute. This was hard on my daughter as I was gone so much of the time, but this was the only place I could afford to buy a house. I didn’t need all the space, but years later when the grandchildren came for visits, I was thankful I had purchased such a large home.
Moreno Valley was a culture shock. The population was 18,000, now it is over 207,000. When I first moved here it was mostly White. It was not uncommon to see a Confederate flag flying from someone’s porch. When I moved to Moreno Valley it was during the time that Denny’s had their discrimination scandal. I had taken my daughter there for dinner for the first time. When I ordered our meal the White waitress (that was all there were) gave me my bill before I received my food. I didn’t understand because this was not normal. I asked her why I was paying now? With a stone face, she said that was their policy, so I paid her. Later I learned what was going on. Denny’s only made Black patrons pay first, for which they were sued and lost.
During the Rodney King riot in Los Angeles in 1992, my White neighbors who lived across the street were very friendly. They said my daughter and I could stay at their house if we were afraid. There was nothing for us to be afraid of and nothing was going on in Moreno Valley. I did appreciate the misplaced gesture. Over the years the White population diminished to 41%, displaced by Hispanics that make up 54%, the remainder is Black and others. Getting a job in Moreno Valley has always been difficult for Blacks. Several warehouses have opened here, which has been a positive impact. Opening a business, which my daughter has done, is also an option.
Having worked in financial institutions and achieving the level of Vice President, without a college degree other than California Banking School, and a Creative Writing Certificate from UCLA, I continued to have very few Black counterparts on my jobs. Affirmative Action opened the door, but only ajar. I have been retired for almost a decade and I wonder if that has changed. The current racist climate that has resurfaced after the 2016 election is extremely disturbing and appears to be getting worst in that racist and bigots feel empowered.
This open racism has rekindled some of my feelings from the 60’s. I no longer advocate violence, but I do feel anger. Why are we going through this again, not just Blacks, but Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, LGBT, anyone who doesn’t fit the idiocy of White Supremacy, the Nazim agenda, or fake Christians. Today, I also see an outrage in Whites that was not as apparent during the 60’s. The Whites were not as vocal and active as they are now regarding racism, bigotry and injustice. As decent well-meaning and carrying people we RESIST and will put our country back on the right path.