The Best of Strange Thinking
I picked the leather coat from the rack, lifting it head high, studying the price tag. Forty dollars was a fair price, I thought. I tried it on and it was a tailored fit. 'Hmm,' I thought, 'did I really want to spend forty bucks on a coat?' I carried the coat to the counter, where an attractive young Hispanic woman smiled and greeted me.
"Can you tell me what kind of leather this coat is made of?" I asked.
She shot me a puzzled look with her big, brown eyes, "Um, cow leather?"
"Well, I don't know. The tag says it was made in China. It could be dog leather."
She wrinkled her nose in the most adorable way, "Oh no! See, it's a Polo! I'm sure it's cow leather. It's been reduced to half price!"
"Yeah," I replied doubtfully, "I really wasn't looking to spend that much on a coat."
"It's a LEATHER coat...Polo!" Her brown eyes sparkled and the grin on her face grew wider. It had now turned into an entertaining game.
I balked. Did I really like the coat?
"I'll tell you what. If you apply for our store credit card, you get an additional twenty percent off." She stared into my eyes, trying to read my mind.
"And if you are instantly approved, you get a coupon for another ten dollars off." She grabbed a hand-held calculator, "That get's this coat down to twenty-one dollars...for a leather Polo coat!"
"Could you maybe throw in a free pair of socks?"
As I pulled my wallet from the back pocket of my wranglers, the clerk laughed, commenting, "If more customers were like you, I would truly love my job!"
Now that goes both ways. Had the clerk been a stuffy stick in the mud, I probably would have talked myself out of that coat, and I really needed one seeing as how I had busted the zipper out of my old leather jacket. Granted, this girl is getting paid minimum wage to be friendly and helpful, and probably ninety percent of the customers don't appreciate that. Hopefully, every now and then someone like me comes along and makes it worthwhile for her.
I thrive on one on one social interaction. Some days, like today, for example, I spend hours slumped over a computer writing fictional stories about imaginary people, and usually, after my eyes begin to cross and my brain turns to soured mush, I decide I desperately need to see a real bona fide living, breathing human being. If I'm lucky, I'll happen upon a wonderful person like that little clerk. More often than not...I don't.
There are two things I know...well, I know more than that, but for the purpose of this story, I know this:
1.) I enjoy NOTHING more than having a one on one conversation with family, friends, or total strangers. Long before I was an author, I realized that there is a story behind every face. As an author, I am constantly on the lookout for my next imaginary character, and as imaginative as I am, I need something to go on. It is those people who take time to connect with me on a personal basis, be it five minutes or a lifetime, that always seem to stand out in my mind.
2.) I know all too well that the vast majority of people who cross my path have absolutely no desire to waste a single moment on such meaningless and trite formalities such as sharing eye contact, a smile or a 'hello', heck not even an obscene gesture. Everybody they need in their life is right there on their smartphone. There is no room for anyone else. They're busy! Leave me be, they scream silently!
Well, I know three things...
3.) I'll leave them be. Got no problem with that. Let me just shoot straight from the hip, honest as Saint Pete, you folks serve no purpose. You contribute zip, zilch, nada, to the world around you. Go ahead and put that phone back in your face and pretend those tiny words on that little screen are all the people you need in your life. You know what...you're BORING! Fear not, I'll waste not a second of my life trying to make your day a tad bit better with a smile or a friendly 'hello.' There's someone out there just wishing for a smile to come their way. Okay, perhaps I was a little harsh. I'll be roadkill after that statement!
I do think the Good Lord puts people in our paths for a reason. Sometimes it is just to make a few seconds of our day better. Sometimes...sometimes...those people who cross your path...stay. Some stay for a dance or two, some stay for a month or two...some stay for a lifetime. I for one don't want to miss out on a single opportunity. Do you know what's warmer than a free pair of socks and a twenty dollar jacket? A smile. And they're free! Try giving one away...bet you'll get one back!