Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The People I See

She comes in every other day or so to buy cigarettes. She has thick curly auburn hair, that is slowly graying at the ends. She wears tattered and neglected clothing, and large spectacles that she wears around her neck on a golden chain. She always gets the same thing, and she always says the same thing. She always sighs loudly as soon as she puts her bag down on the counter and accepts the cigarettes. She looks sad, I ask how she's doing. She always says that her husband and son died recently only a week apart. She says she's finding it to be hard to thing to cope with. I always say I'm sorry to hear that, and she always pats my hand where it's laying on the counter, and says "thank you, baby" and then she leaves. And I don't see her for a few days, and the script is the same. It's always the same. I find myself wondering what it is that she does in between buying cigarettes at my store. Does she sit at home, lighting up, inhaling and thinking of the past? Does she watch the television, and with every face she sees recognizes the features from her departed family? Does she wake up in the morning wondering how she's going to make it through one more day? I don't know any of these things. All I know is that she smokes Misty Ultra Light 100's and as many as she can get. I just hope they make her feel better.

He's shorter with darker skin, and a shuffling gait about him. He comes in every single day, sometimes more than once. Sometimes more than twice. He smells strongly of booze and stale smoke (or so I've heard, I really would have no idea). He sexually harasses every single woman who passes him by. He talks long windedly about his son, and his business. Neither of which I care very much about. But he always says these things, and I always feign interest. He somehow always manage to bring up God. I smile weakly, and hope that he'll leave soon. He always calls me Bub. I'm not sure why. He once picked a discarded pair of thong underwear that someone for some reason discarded in the parking lot. He held them to close to my face, asking me to do something with them. Not wanting to touch them, I held up the trash can underneath them and let him drop them into the waste. He says "Thanks Bub, I didn't know what I was going to do with those" and then leaves. I don't know why he felt that the needed to anything about the discarded pair. Provably the same reason he feels the need to talk about his children with me. I for one will probably never know.

I find it so weird that people like this can walk in and out of your lives ddaily. No backstory, no subtle foreshadowing, no futher information. All I know about their lives is what happens inside the walls of the establishment. I will never know how well she sleeps, or how much booze he downs. I will never know, mabye I don't even care to know. But oddly enough, I think I do care for them. Even if only slightly. I always kind of feel that we care too much about ourselves, and our friends, and our family. Never enough about strangers. About those people who walk in and out of our lives so quickly. I know I care, because I've always thought about them. I've always tried to see things in their perspectives. I've always wondered what it would be like to be one of them. i have always wondered, but I guess I'll never know. Because I'm myself, and no one else. There is no mystery in myself. I know everything already. And that is a shame.