Dec 21, 2014

Kate's smile

I met Kate today. She changed my evening.

I was behind her at the register of a discount store, each of us weighed down with baskets full of 'bargains' we hadn't fully intended to buy.  It had been a long and busy Saturday after a long and busy week and 5 pm felt more like 10. I was wearily watching the gentleman ahead of Kate unload stacks of colorful Christmas bags, piles of toys and some curious tubs of blue goop. That's when Kate first turned toward me and said "He must have a lot of grand kids". 
With a smile. 

We both wondered about the blue goop. Kate tapped him gently on the arm and asked. As he chattered happily about grand kids and nieces, I eyed the squished pile of adorable bears in Kate basket. She noticed my melty, drool-y gaze and pulled one out so I could get a better look. Then she told me which aisle they lived in so I could go get one. 
With a smile. 

While she was occupied at the register, the lady behind me commented on my basket. To be more precise, she wondered out loud if the two large boxes of Mallomars in it were bargain priced too. She had a client who loved them. They would be the perfect gift. I pointed to where I had found them and offered to hold her spot while she looked. Her hunt was hurried and fruitless so I popped my boxes in her basket. She resisted but when I confessed I was hoarding them for my mom whom I wouldn't even see for two months, she gave in and accepted them gratefully.
With a smile. 

Bargain shopping done and feeling spent (in pocket and energy), I moved onto the grocery store. The friendly exchanges at the register had lightened my weariness some but my feet started dragging right after passing under the neon 'Enter' sign. 
So. Many. Choices. 
I had a list that was supposed to stress my brain less but piles and rows of STUFF seemed to suck the very life-force out of me. Maybe the bargain store had over-taxed my puny store of retail sense. Measuring tastes against lists against prices.....the algorithms in my mind are complex and exhausting. 

So at the floral dept of the grocery store, when I engaged in yet another cycle of comparisons (what kind of indoor plant would make my sick friend smile, survive the inadvertent neglect of a sick owner but not poison her dog etc, etc)... shoulders sagged very soon.
"Oh! It's you!" called Kate from near the potted Tulips.
With a smile.

We  maneuvered our carts companionably through the Floral section, looking at tiny green things, before splitting ways in Bakery. Forty minutes later I'd worked my way (laboriously) to Produce. I needed dinner and a rest by then but hadn't found the ginger root yet. 
"Whatever!" I muttered to myself, yanking my cart around and trundling it towards checkout with renewed purpose.

I'd almost made it to the exit when I noticed a bag each of popcorn and tortilla chips in the corner of the cart. Un-bagged so likely unpaid-for. I'm ashamed to say it took another few feet of cart-rolling for conscience to overcome exhaustion. I returned but instead of lining up and paying, handed the bags back to the cashier. The man being served encouraged me to stay, "I won't be long." he said earnestly.
With a smile.

Loading bags into my car, I dialed my friend to ask if my son was ready to be picked up from his play date at her place. He wasn't and neither was let him go. The boys were keeping each other out of trouble. She scolded me to go home, get into my Jammies and put up my feet. She'd feed Oyon dinner with her son and drop him home later. She reassured me "I've got him".
I could hear her smile.

As I clattered my empty cart to the corral, I passed by the neighboring car. The lady by it called out "Again? Can you believe it?!"

That's when I learnt her name was Kate.
"Since we're shadowing each other, I should tell you that a bit later on you'll be in your fuzzy slippers, pouring yourself a glass of wine." I told her with a laugh.

"Make that a dose of Nyquil and you're on!" She replied.

We chatted a bit in the crisp night air about her recent trip to Bangalore and how nice though unsurprising it was that we charted similar courses all evening. Later at home, my fuzzy slippers got their due attention as I cuddled under a blanket watching my favorite show, waiting for my son and husband to return. In solidarity with Kate, I skipped the wine and sipped chamomile tea.

Wish I had told her that chatting with her at the discount store checkout had started a string of pleasant if unremarkable interactions. That it had changed a flat, tired, lonely Saturday night into a warm, connected, eventually restful one.

This is Kate's smile. Next to it is mine.
Aren't they nice?

Oyon-ism (8)
In the car, on our way to Holiday party last night...
Oyon : Found a peanut, found a peanut, found a peeeee-nut, yesterday. Found a peanut,...
Me: Sorry to interrupt the programming but COLL LIGHTS ALERT! On your left! They lit their trees and roof! Wow!
Oyon : We wish you a Merry Electric Bill! We wish you a Merry Electric Bill! We wish you a Merry Electric Bill and a happy new year!

Was that a Christmas Fail or Energy Conservation success?

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