Using The BOOK “I Didn’t Know What to Say”

Posted by on Mar 10, 2016

It was a Monday like most. Chores to do, tasks to be accomplished. And I had to go grocery shopping. Not my favorite thing to do. But the refrigerator was looking awfully bare, so I made it my last stop before going home.
I pull up to the store and park on the side because of all the street construction. Once inside I purposefully get what’s needed and swoop into… oops, need one more thing. Pull out of line, search for the right aisle, grab the distilled water and get back into the fastest (I hope) check-out lane.
I hadn’t seen this gal, but then again they’re always changing, right? As she’s checking me out, I notice this rather large gash that’s healing across the bridge of her nose. Not wanting to be nosy I resist asking, but I’m so curious.
Then her supervisor comes up to her with a clipboard and they talk in quick, incomplete sentences about the work schedule and then walks away.
The clerk, Shannon, I see on her name badge, says to no one in particular, “I can work six days a week….” Then she looks at me and explains, “Our Day Manager was killed in a car accident on Saturday night.”
Whoah. Less than two days ago! “Is this the thin one?” I ask in stunned alarm. Since I’m there at the store fairly often, I do recall her…
“Yes. I feel a measure of guilt,” she says as she scans my items, “though I know you’re not supposed to.” Looking at her intently and indicating that I wanted to listen, she continued. “I was in a car accident two weeks ago and got pretty banged up.” She motions towards the cut and goes on to describe how she had a concussion and had five days off because of it. “Then I returned to work a little too early. I couldn’t make it through my full shift and had to leave. I told them I couldn’t come in the next day too. I needed to rest. So everyone had to take up the slack. She,” (I never did get the Day Manager’s name) “said she’d do it and go riding with her boyfriend on Saturday. If I wouldn’t have changed things around…” her voice trailed off.
I comforted her, reassuring her that she was in no way responsible. But still she was hurting. Her demeanor was professional of course, but the emotional hurt was obviously there. I quickly mentioned about my husband’s book and searched for his business card that we designed that has an intriguing design leading to the message of the book. But I couldn’t find one in my big, everyday full-of-everything-else purse.
As I wheeled the cart out to my car, I remembered that we kept books in the trunk. Quickly I dialed David to see what he thought. Without skipping a beat he said, “Give her a book.”
I went back into the store and stood beside her until she could give me her attention and handed her his book. She hugged me tightly and said, “Thank you. Thank you very much.”
That was the second time in two weeks we have given away a book because of the person’s immediate need. I knew it was right and wondered throughout the evening what might come of it.
Oddly, I couldn’t shake the account of this motorcycle accident and the Day Manager. It kept coming to mind. Little by little over the next couple of days visual pieces of another encounter began to come together…
I was in the checkout lane nearest the west entrance, bright sun shone in almost blinding you. They hadn’t pulled the blinds yet. And the clerk, it was her! The Day Manager. Thin, very thin and very tanned – weathered looking – so it was impossible to guess her age. I had been in her lane! Possibly the Monday or Tuesday before!
She really never acknowledged me. Having less than 15 items, there was very little interaction – no time. And, as I recall — someone came up to her with a clipboard while she was checking me out.
The scene kept “filling out.”
As I’m gathering my few bags, she’s not looking at me. She’s just standing, arching her back and looking straight ahead almost bored with the constant, repetitive actions. Almost under her breath with some sense of anticipation she says, “Yeah, I’ll do it. That way I get to go riding with my boyfriend on Saturday.”
I was there that day never knowing that I’d never stand in her line again. I was there when she quickly rearranged her weekend plans, never knowing it would be her last because of a horrific accident that didn’t even make the local evening news.
I’m still stunned by it. What am I to learn? I’ve always been pretty sensitive to the brevity of life and the finality of death. But still, I guess you never really do know, do you?

Crystal Wacker KnappReach Up Magazine EditorReach Up MagazineMesa, AZ