The following is my six minutes of writing for the day. I think it took a little longer but I was eating lunch while I wrote it so I’m not sure. It’s not the best tale ever told but I’m posting it anyway to show that even though I was busy, I found the time to write. As I mentioned I wrote it during lunch, at a fast food place, in between stops, while out shopping. I try to always keep a spiral or small notebook with me wherever I go for just such occasions. It was actually nice to write something with a pen again.
He looked like a Jeff, so that’s what I’ll call him. I was at Sam’s picking up a few things when I first noticed him aimlessly wandering. At least that was the impression I got until he walked past me and I saw the look on his face. Flustered would be an apt description. Honestly, it was so busy in the place, I wouldn’t have noticed him if he hadn’t worn that almost panicky expression.
Throughout my shopping trip I saw Jeff often. Each aisle, each section. It struck me as odd that he would stop in front of a shelf and stare at a few products for a while, but never picked anything up. Walk, stop, stare, head-shake—repeat. He didn’t even have a cart.
For some reason, each time I saw him, my pity level grew. I had no idea what this man was looking for but I knew he wasn’t finding it. Perhaps he left his list at home and couldn’t remember what was on it. Maybe he was going to get yelled at when he got home, if he forgot something.
Poor Jeff. He didn’t need paper towels or paper plates, although he considered both. Bread and chips were rejected. Dish soap? Nope. Wine—almost. Frozen goods? Apparently not. I saw him looking at laptops and tablets, towels, spices, cereal. You name it, he stared it down and left it behind.
After a while it occurred to me that no matter where I went, he was there. I glanced around and saw that other people in the area I was in were coming to the same conclusion. A nice older lady walked up to Jeff and asked if he needed help finding something. He merely shook his head and kept wandering around.
He never really looked at her. In fact, I think it’s safe to say he didn’t truly see any of the hundred or so people in the store that he weaved around and dodged in his search.
I heard a couple talking about him. Both agreed that they felt like stalkers for watching Jeff, trying to figure out what he was doing. I felt a twinge of it myself.
Finally I finished my own shopping and checked out. The man with the unknown mission had disappeared. After loading my car, I drove in front of the doors to get to the next store. I had stopped for some people to cross and before I could hit the gas pedal, out walks Jeff. He was carrying a terra-cotta pot full of pink tulips. He was wearing both a relieved and proud smile.
I couldn’t help myself, I laughed—loud. I’m sure he heard me because he turned his head, made eye contact, and his cheeks and neck reddened.
I knew the recipient of the flowers would never know what Jeff went through to get them. She would never hear how her husband/boyfriend captivated an entire store with his pursuit, but she would probably be very happy.
The moral of this story is two-fold. First, waiting until February 14th to buy a gift is stressful, don’t do it. Second, a warehouse club is probably not an ideal choice for last-minute romantic gifts.