The Target worker with jet-black hair organized the tangle of signature red shopping carts spread left and right of us. Just inside the humongous double entrance at SuperTarget after school, we stood, as if on display for the crush of shoppers. The elder, beet-faced, clenched his teeth while the tears plummeted down his supple cheeks. She smiled as if to say, I know that's no fun, while creating the neat cart trains that framed our stage.
We had stopped -- just like we do each Wednesday -- for a coffee break. And, because SuperTarget knows how people like me operate, they tucked a Starbucks just inside the grocery side doorway. You know, so we could have our coffee break AND get the essentials for dinner and beyond.
So, we walked in with a clear mission -- an old-fashioned donut from Starbucks for the elder; an Icee from the store snack shop for the smaller little; a few groceries. My natural inclination: Starbucks first.
"Oh, I'm sorry. We are out of those donuts today. Can I get you something else?"
Tears. No; wails.
No; near panic.
From him; from me. At this point in the fit, I questioned our continued presence. We hadn't done our shopping yet...and tonight's dinner of french toast would be no good without the synthetic syrup we stopped to buy.
She smiled again while transferring two more carts to growing train.
"Do you think we could share some popcorn at the snack shop over here? It is supposed to be really good..."
Yes. Good. Perfect. Resilience.
We took the twenty steps to the register and practiced our order en route, "One small slushie; one bag of popcorn." The friendly smile from the doorway returned to her post and stepped past the red slide and swing half-door that separated the food items from customers like us.
"Ohhh. Thanks for being so patient. Can I help you?"
Two little voices chimed in, one blue debit card came out, and I smiled back connecting with her brown eyes, warm and velvety. It was then, she turned to bag our popcorn; it was then I saw what I would've spent minutes, hours, and days, avoiding...covering up...making up...you name it...had I been in the red shirt, in the snack bar, serving sugary, salty treats to kids with undeveloped filters and adults with racing minds.
And she did it all with a smile.
With a smile.
And with a pond of blue and green that drowned her left eye, temple, cheek bone.
The scene from "Pretty Woman" revealed itself across my mind's movie screen: "Why do guys always know how to hit a woman right across the cheek? Wham! And it feels like your eye is gonna explode. What do they do? Do they pull you aside in high school and show you how to do this?"
"Thank you for coming to Target. Have a good afternoon."
With a smile.
Our eyes locked, I smiled back. "Thank you. Take good care..."
What I should've asked you is how I can help.
I'm sorry I didn't ask you how I can help.
I know that's no fun... You, my dear, are the resilient one.