My ten-year-old son made his way towards the aisle lined with big, bulky twenty-dollar televisions. “Those are ancient,” he commented. “Yes, they are,” I answered.
We were at Goodwill, a national chain that sells used items. After twenty minutes of strolling together, looking at various treasures and collecting a few homeschool materials, I had explained to my son, amongst other things, the complexity of college statistic textbooks and why he might not be interested in purchasing one today, the perplexity of eight-track tapes and how they don’t sell new players any longer, the oddness of bowl-shaped old hair dryers that went atop the head, and the sad reality that this store didn’t have used goldfish.
As we wrapped up our mini-excursion, and the mini-lessons, we stood in line to make our purchase. Seeing us there, a fellow lady customer, standing in front of us in the checkout line, motioned to our mostly empty cart, and said, “Please, go first. You don’t have much.”
I smiled and replied, ” Thank you. I do that, too, let people go in front of me. That was kind.”
As she backed up her cart and we swapped places, I noted there was a Starbuck’s coffee cup in her cart. I don’t normally drink coffee. It turns me into a very dynamic thinker who believes she can solve all the world problems, if given an hour. In fact, during my walk today, around the lake, I think I completed three blog articles in my head. As today, I had coffee.
At the store, I turned to the young lady, motioned to her coffee cup in the front of her cart, and said, “I left my Starbucks in the car. I can’t wait to get back to it.”
As soon as the words left my mouth, I felt like a goof. I always feel like a goof when thoughts quickly brew and percolate in my mind, and spit themselves out before I have time to stop them.
After I blushed, this kind customer, a woman about half my age (say twelve), began a full-blown monologue that sounded something to the tune of:
“I thought about leaving my coffee in the car. But I didn’t. I brought it in. It’s the same coffee I always get. I don’t know why I always get the same flavor, white mocha, but I do. It’s silly, but I always get the same. Maybe I should try more variety. I was going to leave the coffee in the car. I was. I wasn’t sure I should bring it into the store, but then I thought, what if I die. I mean, what if I drop dead, and the last thing I think is: I should have brought my coffee. I mean if you’re going to die, you might as well have had coffee first. Who knows. This could be my last day. My last hour. And here I’d be dying without my coffee. And with the way my life’s been going lately—lots of personal crisis and stuff, that just makes me upset. Well, this coffee is a real treat. If you know what I mean. I need to treat myself, now, more than ever. Plus, I’m anemic, and I get so cold. That’s why I’m wearing this. (Motions to two or three layers she’s wearing, and the high neckline of her cotton sweater.) I must look pretty silly wearing this in the summer. But my anemia, it makes me very cold. I shiver sometimes. I have to dress this way. That’s why I’m shopping. This cart had my whole fall wardrobe. Can you believe it? The whole season, right here.”
When she was finished, she grinned wider. At first I was speechless, as I watched my son’s eyes grow from super large and then shrink back to normal size. But I was certain to politely validated the lady, before I set out to pay for my few items.
Hours later, I keep smiling knowingly to myself as I visualize the woman with the mulit-layers and white-mocha coffee. I keep hearing her words in my head, seeing her cart full of clothes, and watching her weave her story.
I can’t help but think that my big guy in the sky (multiple gods, or woman or tree or void, depending on your beliefs) is smiling down with a wink and saying, “See how grand it is to be quirky! See how grand to be you!”
I can’t help but here the phrase I gotta be me resonating in my mind.
I can’t help but chuckle in delight.
I can’t help but like myself a little better.
And as a bizarre-o side note, I do have this rare superpower. I can tell when white paper cups with lids are empty. Amazing, I know. When I’m watching a movie or sitcom, when the actors are drinking from paper coffee cups, I can tell they don’t often have a full cup. And I can tell when people in real life have hardly anything left in their cup. It’s true! I haven’t figured out how to use this rare, and now probably sought after, superpower. But stay tuned. I’m sure to find out soon! I just hope no one tries to steal my superpower from my amazing mega brain!