Tuesday was a long day. It seemed to drag on forever. Even a colleague at work said so.
To top it off, I had errands to run when I got off. I had to get gas, for one – it’s a fair amount cheaper in South Carolina, where I work, than in North Carolina, where I live.
Plus I had to pick up a couple of prescriptions – nothing that serious – at Target and I had a pair of shorts I wanted to exchange. And, as frequently happens in my three-cat household, I had to restock the Whiskas, or is it Friskies?
So I did all my business at the Target near my house, because that’s where my pharmacy is, instead of the three or so that I pass on the way home.
When I finished getting all the stuff I needed, I went up front to pay and had to choose between two lines.
I chose the wrong one, or so I thought at first.
I definitely chose the slow line. The woman at the head of it had bought more stuff than I thought, and she was paying with a check. You know, one of those paper things that you get at the bank. That no one ever uses any more.
The cashier didn’t seem to know what to do with it. But she finally seemed to figure it out. And then the check got rejected by the bank, I guess. Finally, the shopper’s friend paid for the order (I heard the shopper swear to the friend later that the check really was good – and I believe her).
But while all this was going on, the woman in line directly in front of me saw someone in the other line – the fast one – whom she knew. Turns out the woman in front of me was a hairdresser in Monroe who had let her hair grow out – a little at a time. She trimmed a half inch occasionally, she said, to prompt its growth.
About this time, she turned to me and said, “Guess we got in the wrong line, eh?” Thing was, she said it without an ounce of malice.
She was blonde, well, bleached blonde, kinda attractive with some of them funky glasses. I guess she was in her late 30s or so.
Meanwhile, her friend got through the neighboring line and came back to talk with her. She asked the hairdresser if she had kids, because she was buying diapers and stuff. No, she said, she was going to a baby shower.
But then she added that she and her husband were adopting a child. From Uganda. Well, two actually, because they were brother and sister. The sister was an infant, she said. The brother was older, and had epilepsy. She’d just seen photos the night before and she said she was really getting excited about it all.
As it happens, the other woman was a pediatric nurse. She started talking to the hairdresser about her soon-to-be son’s medical problems. They agreed it would be tough but manageable.
I’m obviously standing there listening. And thinking about how much I admired the hairdresser. Who was taking on two children who really needed her. From a world away.
Her friend left, and the hairdresser turned around again. The line was still pretty stalled.
“I guess we picked the wrong line,” she said again.
I smiled and nodded.
But you know what I was thinking? “No, ma’am, I picked exactly the right line.”
Because I felt a whole lot better about the world after my encounter with this woman.