BEAUTY AND THE BASTARD
This all happened yesterday, in four different stores . . .
I was just leaving Cosco, walking slowly toward the backed-up line that exits the store. Suddenly someone came up from behind and slammed full speed into my cart. Without slowing down, the man veered off to one side. A quick glimpse . . . he was short and ugly.
Dumbfounded, I suddenly found my voice. “What the hell are you doing?”
Without turning around, he shouted back, “You were going so slow!”
“You have no business smashing into other people’s carts!”
“You were nothing but a plug!”
I stared after him as he disappeared deeper into the store. First time in years I’ve wanted to punch someone in the nose.
The lady in front of me turned around, made a face, and sympathetically shook her head. Like me, I suppose, she wondered at his sudden, unexpected display of violence. It took awhile for the shock to wear off.
My next stop was Bed, Bath, and Beyond. As I stood at the counter to pay for three items, the sales lady asked if I had any 20% coupons. “Oh darn,” I said, “they’re in the car. Maybe I should go get them. Will one coupon do it?”
“No,” she said. “One for each item.”
Almost as if she were with me, the lady behind me spoke up. “How many coupons do you need?”
I turned around, amazed. It was a Steve Hartman moment; another beautiful person.
“How many do you need?” she asked again.
Feeling greedy I said, “Well . . . actually, three.”
“Here,” she said. “Take these.”
Once again I was staring, dumbfounded. “How nice,” I said. “How kind. Thank you.” As she handed over the coupons, I said, “You won’t believe what happened at the last store.” While I finished paying, I told her the story. “All this bad and good in one day.”
She smiled. “Then just remember the good.”
Oh, I’d remember all right.
My next encounter was the check-out line at Trader Joe’s. Having just gathered my bagged-up groceries, I turned to go. Which was when the woman next in line said, “Here. You forgot your purse.”
“Oh . . . thanks.” I wouldn’t have gotten far, but I appreciated her looking out for me.
At still a fourth place, Boston Market, where I tried to leave with both hands full, a man deliberately paused to hold open the door. As I always do, I gave him a genuine thanks.
The tally was easy. One bastard. Three decent people—one of them exceptional. For me, that pretty much summed up the world . . . the good guys easily outnumbered the rotten apples three to one. And maybe even by a larger margin. Which I might have noted, except by then I had run out of stores.