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Inspiration Life

Red

It seemed like an abnormally quiet Sunday– I was admittedly bored- thinking about how the current traffic (or lack thereof) was affecting my paycheck. I continued to look busy, sizing, folding, and rearranging accessories– While doing so I edged closer to the children’s shoe area where an adorable young girl (maybe 6 or 7) in a bright aqua dress and red coat (accompanied by a man {who did not look anything alike}) were searching around; “Maybe she can help you?”

He pointed at me.

I jumped at the chance to service someone, and as quickly as I could replied, “Sure, what are you looking for?” The little girl was sweet and soft spoken, but not at all shy when she said “I want red Toms, red glitter — or just red if there is no glitter.” I again responded, “Sure, what size? I will go check upstairs!” The man had stated that she needed a 13, and while I was running up the stairs to the stock room I was hoping against hope that we had both in stock. However– we just had the plain red.

I brought the box down, explaining with a laugh (as I always do with bad news) that we just had this style– The other right side of the shoe was the one on display, which I grabbed for her so that she could try on both feet. “Is this the same size?” she asked while looking at the other shoe. I laughed again, “Yup, it should be!” The man said, “Yes, that’s why she brought it out for you, try them on!” She slipped both shoes on and it looked to fit perfectly. I encouraged her to take a little stroll to see how they felt which she quickly did, making a loop and coming back to stand right next to me.

I felt the tops of her toes in the shoes just to make sure, while the man did the same. I let them know about the fit info, just in case he was skeptical. Again, it was the right fit and the man gestured that she was going to wear them out. “They match your coat,” he said. “Yes they do,” I chimed in. That’s when she looked up at me and said

“I’m wearing these to my dad’s memorial. Red was his favorite color…”

It’s difficult to describe what happened next. Honestly, did not know how to respond– it’s admittedly a fault of mine, made even more troublesome by the innocent face of this child. A slight inhale and “Oooh…” I continued wrapping up the sale, while checking them out. I was madly looking for scissors to cut the tags off of the shoes but the man was already biting them off with his teeth. I looked down at the box, still processing what was happening. The man handed over payment, and the little girl came to stand right next to me. I was utilizing one of the slowest registers, which gave the girl time to stare up and me and say “You’re really pretty.” I told her she was so sweet and beautiful, to which she thanked me. When the cash drawer popped out she was standing on tip toes trying to look in, as I had a feeling she would. The man asked her to “stop being little Miss Nosy” to which I shrugged him off and smiled that it was alright– but she wasn’t listening to him and quietly responded “But I wasn’t being nosy.”

I did my normal routine– as much as possible keeping it together to send them out with a ”Thank you”, and on their way to what I can only imagine to be the funeral. Walking back to my department I could feel the sadness weighing on me.

Why wasn’t I more understanding, and why couldn’t I say anything meaningful? It crosses my mind that on a daily basis I do not let my emotions frolic about for the anyone to see. I squash them, protecting myself from what could be vulnerable positions. It’s “easier”– probably the reason I draw things rather than speak them. Added to that is the competitive nature of my profession where it works to be confident and unfazed on the outside. I think somewhere down the road I adopted the “It’s not personal, this is just business” attitude, and I’m not sure when that became status quo. My main point is that I never want to be disingenuous… so how did I let it happen at the place I spend a hefty chunk of my time? Thinking that my “work” self and “real” self could not be the same. Yeah, strange… These everyday interactions, especially this one really put things into perspective. Just a thought.