Encounters, episode 1: Cashier

I am trying to ease my way back into writing more, and I read something yesterday that suggested writing daily an episode from the day as a descriptive narrative. I thought this was an interesting idea, and that it would give me some direction for dipping my toes back into the writing waters. So here is the first installment of what will hopefully be a series. It’s nothing big, but today I can say I wrote something, and that is what I’m going for at this point. 🙂


She was just the cashier checking me out at the thrift store. A young woman, probably around twenty years old, maybe even younger. I piled the counter high with play clothes for my daughter, who wears out clothing at least as fast as her brothers ever did, and who thinks life is not okay unless she has at least five sparkly shirts in her dresser. The thrift store is a blessing; that’s all I’m saying.

The cashier and I made small talk like you do when you’re there, face-to-face at a counter for a few minutes. I commented on my daughter’s insatiable love of clothing and her sense of style. She mentioned that her sister wears all kinds of crazy clothes and that she can’t figure how how the sister, a freshman in high school, doesn’t get made fun of.

“She says she doesn’t care what people think of her, and maybe she doesn’t. I don’t know how she does it. I’ve always cared way too much. High school was horrible because the other kids were so mean to me.”

Whoa. What just happened? One minute we’re talking about sparkly shirts for my five-year-old, and the next we’re talking about her low self-esteem and the cruelty of teenagers.

I realize that the young lady before me has been deeply wounded by the unkind words of her classmates. She says she’s in college now and it’s better. “I don’t have to see any of those kids anymore, and that helps. I only have to go one day a week and I take another class online.”

“College was so much better for me than high school was,” I say. “Those are some of my best memories. And I’ve discovered that it’s easier to find nice people as an adult than it was as a teenager. I don’t know if it’s me or them, but life is a lot better after high school.”

She nods. She’s just starting to think maybe that will be true.

I ask her what she’s studying and she says business management and that she’s hoping to learn photography and open her own studio. I tell her that sounds wonderful.

She swipes my bank card and I sign the receipt. I call my kids from where they are contemplating the old unwanted electronic devices. “Have a nice day,” she says with a smile.

I look in her eyes. “Best of luck to you,” I say. She looks surprised.

“Thank you,” she says tentatively. I smile at her and say good-bye.

As I push open the glass door, I think maybe next time I’ll have courage to say “God bless you.


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