It was too early in the morning for any human to engage in conversation with another human, but that’s never stopped me before.
“I love it here,” I said to the wide-eyed cashier at Trader Joes.
They just opened up across the street from my apartment building. Finally, all those years of paying way too much for rent for way too little space has brought me this money-saving jackpot.
“I love working here,” she said, verbally punctuating her sentence with at least three imaginary explanation points.
I could have stopped talking then. I could have played with my phone or counted the credit cards in my wallet or pretended to look around the store.
But I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.
“Really?” I asked, wondering if she meant that.
Wondering if she truly spent the day eye rolling at rude customers who are known to walk the blocks of this neighborhood I live in. “Don’t you meet a lot of customers who are difficult and mean and snotty and…”
She cut my rambles off. I liked her.
“Not at all,” she said and she meant it. I don’t know how to prove that to you, but she proved that to me. “Especially if you understand people and know that everyone is going through something.”
Sometimes people say thing innocently, not knowing that they are talking to someone who needs those words more than a cheap grocery bill – which says a lot. I love my Trader Joes 19 cent bananas.
“We don’t know this when we are kids but everyone has something bad happen to them.”
I dropped my phone in my purse. I gave her my full attention to go on.
“So when it does happen, it’s almost a relief because now you know what that “thing” is and you can start trying to figure out a way to keep on living.”
My world got shaken up in the month of August. But she couldn’t have known that from the friendly morning smile on my face or the stacks of frozen pizzas she was scanning. What she said to me was exactly what I guess I needed to hear. What I was searching for. More than a hug, a “it’s all going to be okay”, a session at a therapist who just jots down things on a blank piece of paper and makes seldom eye contact. I needed someone to remind me that life must go on – and it’s important to figure out how to do that when everything feels like it’s in tiny, sticky pieces.
I’ve never done this before, but I hugged the cashier.
I would have cried but the line at Trader Joes was getting longer and I didn’t want to be the reason people couldn’t buy a tub of cookie butter before heading to work.
So I left. I left with something I was more excited about than those 19 cent bananas.
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