Medusa painted on a leather jousting shield from Wikicommons. (Found this elsewhere listed as a painting by Caravaggio) Either way . . . thank you public domain.
We took the whole family for a day of Christmas shopping this past weekend. Due to my previously mentioned disorder, we have shopped other years only in fits and starts, often making gifts and designating someone to pick up requested items. For no reason, this year was different. We loaded into the car for the hour and a half drive with list of locations and addresses in hand.
Around midday, we found ourselves at bookstore. While we browsed, a very distraught customer came in. A mistake had been made. The store owed her money, apologies, and prompt attention. The clerk answered kindly that it was Saturday and unfortunately the manager would not be in until Monday.
This news was met with rage and rising voice. I began looking for the children, wondering how to get them out the door before things got uglier. The clerk was undaunted in her warm and gracious demeanor. I got as far as having Boy one get Girl two to the car so at least we wouldn’t add to the unfolding scene with a display of toppled merchandise.
I tried to focus on novelty pens while emotional woman demanded immediate restitution for whatever had transpired on her credit card. Other shoppers waited in line. Ignoring the ongoing kindness of the clerk, the woman continued to argue the irrelevance of the manager’s absence. Here was a receipt, here was a copy of the credit statement . . .
In a voice that had miraculously lost not an ounce of patience, the clerk agreed to look at the documents presented. After that it got very quiet and the woman began to stammer in mortification. The store had not made a mistake. She had. She apologized beside with embarrassment and shame.
Nothing to worry about, said the clerk. It was an easy mistake to make. It happens to all of us, she added.
At this point, I ceased shopping and stared (one hopes with a modicum of stealth). Not sure what to do next, angry shopper on the verge stood repeating her wonder that this had happened. Curly white haired clerk walked around from behind her counter with open arms. Clerk scooped shopper gently into a hug that lasted long enough to speak kind words quietly and wait. Released by love, shopper walked off slowly almost speechless except for quiet thank you.
A witness to love’s raw beauty, I left in tears, amazed.
Photograph of now defunct sport called, “Auto Polo.”
I have a very bad case of Town Avoidance Disorder. We have no applesauce. We are out of potatoes. And onions. And fruit. We have two bags of frozen vegetables left in the freezer. When we’re out of flour or milk I call my husband and ask him to pick it up. Oh and some cheese. You’re out anyway. Do you mind?
I hate town. I hate stores. I’m ok with restaurants if they have real food because I like people asking me what I want, giving it to me and cleaning up afterwards. Stores have too many things. Towns have too many stores.
I like one grocery store, one clothing store, one hardware store . . . you get the idea. My really favorite idea is to only use the general store three miles down the road. I dream about giving them a list of my essentials (whole wheat flour, macaroni noodles, canned peaches in fruit juice . . .) and only ever going there. Ever. It is a beautiful dream. The owners are in their eighties and are trying to sell. Their fiftyish daughters are keeping the place going until then.
Change like this irritates me. Despite the cost, I buy gas there pretty often because it isn’t in town. I pump my own where they can’t even see me from the window, then go in and tell them how much I owe them. Why are they selling? What is wrong with eighty year olds these days?
Then there is Sears. I picked Sears as my store for things I can’t get second hand. I have gotten used to them and I like their socks. Children can wear them until they lose them. No spontaneous dismemberment at three weeks. Recently, I heard that Sears Canada is changing? closing? I don’t remember the details, but I didn’t like it. I don’t know who to make my store if they leave. It is too hard to think about, so I won’t. Since I go there at least three times a year, they may forget to contact me when the doors finally shut. If they remember me it’s because the clerks think I speak in tongues. No thank you, I say to always offered Sears card. Slowly I explain that paying in cash means you only spend what you actually have. This causes a lot of blinking and polite laughter, kind of how you treat nice crazy people.
I could find town interesting like a museum if I could get past not wanting to be in a car. Going to town means doing nothing for a lot of minutes in a row. What did you do this morning? I went to town. What did you get? Groceries.
That’s it? Two hours for one word on a list? Plus the air does not breathe right in those towns. Going to town is very, highly, extremely, unsatisfying. (Unless I’m having a stand-up-to- excessive-descriptor-words day, then it is merely unpleasant.)
Going to town feels like this.