For a person who hates to shop, I do love going to go to the store.
Last week at Macy’s, the most cheerful clerk I have ever encountered stood waiting on customers and complimenting them on their choices, even as she swung the garments this way and that, patting them into neat rectangles the way a storybook mouse might fold and smooth his little hanky after the wash.
When it came my turn at her register she was just upbeat with me as she had been with the others. After I swiped my credit card in the magic slot, she said, “Now just sign your name and we’re done!” Then in recollection her face opened into a wider grin.
“Yesterday I told this one lady to sign her John Hancock and she actually wrote the words ‘John Hancock’! Do you believe that? People kill me!”
People kill me too, which is what sends me out into the world to find them.
Find more of them I did, a few days later at the supermarket when I was treated to a second friendly exchange: A woman in her late 50s pulled up behind me at the check-out, the seat of her shopping cart filled with a small two-year-old boy with a girl of about six standing alongside.
I smiled at the girl, who was looking directly at me.
She held my gaze for several seconds, and then beamed. “That’s my Grammy!” she whispered conspiratorially, her eyes shining with affection as she slid them over to the woman pushing the cart.
“Is that your Grammy?” I said in the same conspiratorial way. It was not really a question but more of an exultation to match her own, and it caused the woman to look at me guardedly, until I spoke directly to her.
“I wish MY grandchildren were with me right now.”
“Oh aren’t they wonderful!” she cried. “And yet you love them so much it scares you. You have so much to lose!”
“I know!” I agreed. “We’re really out on a limb now!”
And with that we parted ways, each, I think, reeling with this truth.
Finally, just yesterday the following happened when, again at the supermarket, the cashier and I came to the swipe-the-card moment – only this time, instead pulling my card from the wallet I was not actually carrying, I pulled it from and returned it to, a far more accessible place.
“Did you just put that in your bra?” The young woman asked.
“Yep,” I said.
“I do that too!”
“Really? I thought only eccentric older people who didn’t care what others thought did things like this!”
“Oh No.” she said. “The way I figure it, you’ve got this… SHELF….”
“A pocket with no holes!”
“That’s right! Plus you there’s two of them and, really, what else are they for?”
“Exactly! Well besides a baby’s food needs.”
I decided to leave aside for the moment what these wondrous things are NOT for, namely an industry based on the male gaze, and profit, and exploitation – which was a good thing since just then it occurred to me to look at the boy bagging my groceries.
“Sorry about the girl-talk,” I told him.
But he just smiled. “Oh no problem!” he said.
“Actually I like it. All the talk makes my day really fun!”
And I couldn’t have said THAT any better myself.