Quarter after three in the afternoon, fifteen more minutes until I can leave work. My early morning activities have led me to this moment – crusty, nauseated, and heavy eyelids. I am not sure if it was the pancakes, the three pots of coffee consumed, my lunch of fried chicken tenders and French fries, or the Starbucks grande mocha frappuccino – but my insides were clearly unhappy with me and were debating just how much they were going to express their displeasure. Against my normal behavior I had decided to go directly to the grocery store and buy a few things thereby hopefully placing me in Tess’ checkout line.
I made it to the store in record time, walked in – scanning for her. I could not find her. Instead of panicking I grabbed a basket and picked up the three items I had determined to get. I did however make sure to pass each aisle and look for her. I traveled to the back aisle and walked it, insuring she was not standing stocking an end cap thus hidden. She wasn’t there (sigh). I went to the checkout area and one line was open, it was the woman I considered the “grandma” of the store; her name was Lois. She was what every kid wanted in a grandma; she was nice, called you sweetie, and had that warm and loving look that broadcasted to everyone near, that she indeed was a nice lady. When I walked up she greeted me by name and I said hi back. She looked a little different and that is when I noticed she had a different smile across her face and that she kept looking up at me as she scanned the items. I smiled back not sure what was what. She told me the total and put my three items in the bag. I gave her the cash and when she gave me the change she passed to me a small little envelope that had my name on it. She was almost giddy “Hon, Tess asked me to give this to you if you came in today.” “Uh, thanks” my heart sank.
I walked out of the store realizing which scenario was occurring – the “not interested note given by an innocent bystander”. No awkward words, looks – just cut and run. I could not open it. I debated what to do – go home or be somewhere out in public so as not to highlight the loneliness. It was beautiful outside so I decided to drive over to the plaza, grab a bottled water and sit outside among the people and pleasant weather and read my rejection note.