Monday’s Life Lesson

People talk to me. Maybe it’s because I dabbled in investigative reporting for a time — in another life — maybe it’s because I’m small and seemingly non-threatening (little do they know!) — whatever the reason, I can be anywhere and random folks’ll share very personal stories.

Like today, I was out and about finding the perfect plastic containers to organize old files and financial documents that aren’t supposed to be thrown out — I’m not sure if the rule is to keep them for seven years or ten years, so I’ve settled on forever, just to be safe.

I’ve lived in the same house since 1985 and have a LOT of paid bills and receipts and I’ve saved them all, because you never know when you need to find the receipt for a chair we purchased in 1987. Even if we don’t have the chair anymore. Is anyone whispering “hoarder” yet?

That’s another day’s post about my office purge, and it’ll be complete with pics.

Today, I found perfectly sized plastic containers with locking handles at Target because I hate Walmart. Standing in line to purchase them, the clerk was making every mistake in the book ringing up my THREE ITEMS. First, she only charged me for one box which would have been cool, then she corrected her mistake when I said, “Is that the price for all of them?”

Staring off into space when I asked, “Do I need to press a button for credit, not debit?” was slightly troublesome and weird, but I was having a happy day and repeated my question, thinking perhaps she was hard of hearing.

This was no twenty-something with a bad attitude at her first job. This was a lady in her mid-to-late sixties and you could tell by her wrinkles and gray hair that life had not been too kind to her. Here she was, working at a minimum wage job, standing on her feet for hours, when she should have been at a book club or gardening or anywhere but wearing that unflattering red t-shirt. Ya know?

Tears slowly filled her eyes and made their way down her cheek.

“I’m sorry”, she said. “I’m not really ‘with it’ today.”

“My best friend just called me to say that her dog died suddenly and while she was taking him to be buried, her car blew up, and to make matters worse, she’s being evicted from her apartment.”

She said, “It’s hard to keep my mind on anything but thinking about her. She loved her dog more than anything. How much pain can one person bear?”

I was sooo glad that I hadn’t been my snarky/bitchy/impatient self. (At times I feel that everyone was put on this earth to serve me (princess complex) and I’ll admit to acting a teensy weensy beeyotchy.)

I racked my brain to come up with an appropriate consoling response. What was the right thing to say in a situation like this? I felt so bad for her, her friend, and the dog. I told her that she was obviously a great friend to someone who must be a wonderful person to feel that kind of love for her dog. It’s all I could come up with at the spur of the moment.

This brief interaction made me pause and think about life and what’s important and somewhere in all of that, there’s a lesson to be learned.

What’s the lesson learned?

1 Sometimes, life sucks.

2 Sometimes, it’s not all about the shoes.

(Come on, you didn’t really think I was gonna get all preachy, did ya???)

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