Wednesday, August 25, 2010

If Not For You

There are a few stories that keep rolling 'round and 'round this too crowded head of mine. Every time I think about sitting down and writing something for Notes, these two stories elbow their way into my thoughts; pushing anything else aside like greedy playground bullies in line for lunch. They are completely unrelated. Why they have paired themselves together I couldn't say. Maybe I'll tell them and find out. Maybe not. Ready? Let's go.

There are two people in the store. A woman buying cigarettes and gas. A man in line behind her. As she is paying he feels comfortable enough to sort of sidle up next to her and start a conversation with her. Oops. No, wait. Ah, it's a pick up line.

"Has any one ever told you you have Halle Berry's eyes". Now I can see an ever so slight shadow of an expression cross the woman's face as I hand her her change. Irritation? She acts flattered, laughs, and says some deflecting remark I can't remember any more. She leaves to pump her gas followed shortly by the guy pumping his gas. As quickly as they are out the door I am on to some chore or other letting the whole exchange evaporate into the night.

I truly don't think of it again; until a few weeks later that is.

A woman walks up to the counter. I chuckle and say, "Well good evening Miss Berry".

"Oh, you were here for that"? She laughs. "What a creepy guy he was. He kept saying things like; Your eyes aren't the only thing lookin good tonight." And assorted other comments. We share a moment in silence kind of pondering the situation. She expresses a firm desire to never meet up with him again and leaves the store.

Huh. I never woulda guessed. Out of sight, out of mind and all that, you know?

Now, the first few hours of my shift are usually busy with costumers. The chores have to wait a few hours 'til things die down. There's somebody always coming in though. Even if it's only one person every fifteen minutes or so. Just enough to make it hard on someone who has chores AND wants to write a blog. Well it is late late one night and this girl strolls in. We've seen each other before and comfotably say hello. Now I've been around long enough to know not to just call someone a girl out of hand. A girl is a girl and a woman is a woman. Much like you wouldn't call a man a boy. She has to be all of fifteen as near as I can figure. She is all Ghetto and cool that way. She knows life and ain't nobody gonna tell her different. She is also drunk. (I must sound like a teetotaler sometimes. I am not. At one time my thirst was quite prodigious. I could just never stand sloppy drunks if you know what I mean.)Now as you walk in the store there is a VERY large sign stating that part of your purchase of a fountain drink will help send a kid to camp. There is also a large gauge to show progress toward a stated goal.

Drunk Clue #1, she stands looking at the sign and swaying for a good long time. Confusion growing rapidly on her face.

Drunk Clue #2, she manages to swivel toward me and ask, "What's this sign for?" "You do read, don't you?" "Oh, yeah." She turns once more and reads the sign. "Why would we want to send a kid to camp?" she asks in all seriousness.

Now of all the things I might have been expecting, this one didn't even make the list. For once in a handful of times, I dumbfounded. I can actually FEEL it. My mouth working like the proverbial fish. Lips opening and closing, not having the faintest idea what to say.

"Well, every kid deserves something special" I finally work out.

I don't remember a bit of anything that happened next. Sometimes when I am in the store though, that question rings in my head. That and how it made me feel. Sad for her. I am sure she never bad the chance to go to camp. Not sure how I know that. I just do. That and how floored I was by the question. She really, really, really had no idea why.

It probably doesn't end there either.

Why should we send packages to soldiers far from home serving our country? Why should I see if that person needs help? Why should I feed the hungry? Why should I give blood? Why should I get involved?

Why should I look anywhere but inside at my own hurt?

Why? Why? Why?

If not for you, if not for me, then who?

Go on.

Go make a difference.

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