Friday, March 2, 2012
365 Chances #11: In which no one's a stranger.
That's all to say that this morning I was feeling a bit like I'd drunk equal to or less than the amount of one bottle of wine, so I was a little slow on the uptake. (Translation: I missed the bus to the gym and didn't have time for a proper breakfast.) So on my way to work this morning, I stopped into Trader Joe's for some bananas, an orange, and peanuts. All proper morning/snack foods. Upon checkout, I asked the guy the same old, "How are you today?" And it was his response that woke me up this morning.
"Ah, not doing so well today. I had to put my cat down yesterday."
My jaw did a little bit of dropping, and I couldn't quite figure out how to respond.
"I'm so sorry," I said. Call me Mother Teresa.
"You know, she had acute kidney failure and was in a lot of pain."
"Well, it's probably better that she's not in any pain," I thought to myself. I couldn't speak. I didn't know how to respond, how to offer anything genuine or specific to this man I had just met a minute before. All of the ways I know how to console are intimate and too private for a customer-cashier relationship at Trader Joe's, right?
I left a little bit stunned. I had the feeling I hadn't dealt with the situation properly. I felt a little like he was out of line, spilling his heart out like that in what's supposed to be a predictable transaction. But maybe that's what I don't like so much about the world. I served tables and bartended for the better part of my high school and college careers and even after a rotten morning or shift, when someone--even regulars--asked me how I was, I responded with the boilerplate: "I'm doing well, how are you?"
Sure, there's a time and a place for venting, and often your place of employment isn't it. But I admire that man's ability to say to hell with social norms and knee jerk, generic responses. Maybe if I spent more time actually revealing bits of myself to the world, I wouldn't be so shocked when I saw it in unexpected places.
[Addendum: Not sure what 365 Chances are? Start here. ALSO Meg check out what time I posted this!)