“Thank You For Not Being a Dick”

she said, her eyes bleary from the buzz.

We laughed.

So did the cashier.

It was a big improvement from where we were a moment ago.

thank you for your patience.

she said.

Ordinarily, i would have smiled and shrugged.

But today, I wasn’t feeling patient.

Or passive.

“Patience, is actually on the opposite side of the spectrum of what I’m feeling right now. “

I said, looking her straight in the eye.

She put her phone down, but just a little.

But she continued hunting for the change in her bottomless pocketbook, the speakerphone stranger squawking away, while we all waited for someone to bring over the carton of cigarettes she should have bought at the counter, to accompany the 14 other odds and ends she splayed across the 5 items or less counter.

Thank you for pretending to be patient, she said with an edge.

The cashier looked my way. And chuckled nervously.

Better! and more true, too!

I said.

And i’m working on my public patience face.

We all giggled

Thank you for not being a dick

She said.

Bingo! That ought to go on on a t shirt!

I said.

I would buy one!

Now we all laughed hard.


Strangers, but like old friends from different generations, recounting a secret story from years ago.

She gathered her stuff and ambled into the night, the warm glow of the laugh lingering in line, for the rest of us to remember.

She forgot her chocolate!

He said,

Pointing to the empty space in the door, where she no longer was.

Can you catch her?

he asked?

In the parking lot?

She walks and lives around the corner.

I will try

I said.

i’m walking home, too.

As i went out into the bright light, that night, looking for a foe — who had become a friend, as i meandered about the streets aimlessly, first looking, and then forgetting for who and why — I remembered something about myself, that had I had long forgotten.

Strangely, serendipitously, a strangers gift sticking with me still — eating chocolate, aimlessly, being free, and being me, anything, once again, felt possible.