Working in retail has a way of taking the peace, "goodwill towards all" and joy out of Christmas. All those urgent needs and desperate wants, long lineups and even longer shopping hours has me pining for quiet walks in the woods or a good read with a glass of red. That said, sometimes, if you slow down enough in the midst of the milieu, you can still witness the beauty.
An excerpt from Notes from the Bottom of the Box: The Search for Identity from a Modern-Day Renaissance Woman . . .
It was Christmas Eve. The store was mildly busy, winding down from a hectic two weeks. A man with a few items in hand approached my till.
Do you have cellophane? he asked, voice terse with seemingly desperate need. My mind slipped sideways and not a little into reverse. It crashed back in the ‘60s and out popped Saran Wrap.
No, I said, we don’t sell food wrap.
No! he all but shouted, cellophane ... for wrapping stuff.
My mind went around another corner. Oh, you mean shrink wrap, yes, yes, of course, it’s ....
His eyes bugged out, my obstinate stupidity threatening to unhinge him. Never mind, he snarled, stabbing his debit card into the machine. It was then I got it: he wanted the clear crispy wrap for gift baskets. Go to Michaels, I said, they sell it there.
But the words were lost. The interact machine had taken the limelight—it was too slow. His fists clenched, his forearms strained, the machine teased. I glanced over his bent head at the woman behind. We exchanged smiles. Nice balloons, she said, looking at the festive green and red globes above my till. I nodded in perfect understanding.
Bringing my attention back to the man, I asked, Would you like a balloon?
For a moment he looked confused, then his shoulders relaxed and his face softened; he smiled and almost laughed. Yes, he said, I would. And with balloon in hand he went out the door into the night.
If you like my writing, check out my other blog, The Interdependent Life.