Life as good as it gets
“Are you the person who writes those articles?” I turn and face a tall, very attractive woman with glistening white hair. We’re in the aisle between kitchen wares and electric fans at the Carson City Walmart. Somewhat surprised, I pause before I answer. When you’re a writer, you never know what people think about your scribblings. When I was a dancer, it was different. Sometimes they applauded, sometimes they yawned, but at least you knew.
I recover and say yes. “I enjoy your column, especially the stories about working in a casino. I worked in a casino once,” she says. Not wanting to let this charming woman drift away, I ask her name. “Myrna, like in Myrna Loy,” she says. For an instant, my mind flips back to when I was 7 or 8. My mother thought it would make a nice picture to dress me up in a little white suit and take a picture of me and the little blond girl who lived across the street. Her name was Myrna, too. As I was about to ask if this woman’s ever lived on Edgemont Street in Hollywood, the electric fan department supervisor I was waiting for returns. This is a good thing, because this Myrna is at least 30 years my junior and offending a reader is not a good thing.
Laura, the fan department supervisor, looks at her hand-held computer, and says there aren’t any more Hawaiian Breeze fans in stock, but will discount the one on the shelf. Done. The fan goes in my cart.
Earlier in the morning, I had the misfortune of breaking my glasses while at the V.A. Clinic in Minden. Pat, the kindly sign-in person, went to great pains to explain the V.A. doesn’t normally supply glasses but that I should try Walmart. With trepidation I present the broken glasses to Rhonda, the young sales person of the Vision Department at the Carson City Walmart. “Give me 10 minutes,” she says. When I return, my glasses are fixed. “How much do I owe you? I ask. “No charge,” she replies. Flabbergasted, I ask “Can I give you a hug?” Seeing that I’m a grandfatherly type, she says yes.
After some rudimentary shopping, I’m drawn to the shoe department. I’m in desperate need of a pair of sandals to deal with this hot weather. Shopping for shoes is an ordeal for me. I half-heartedly try on several pairs. One pair interests me. “They look great. They’re you. Now let’s find the right size,” a bubbly, smartly attired, blond female employee says. She ransacks the shelves for my size. There aren’t any. “Let me call the Gardnerville store, she says, and pulls out her cell phone. A spirited discussion between colleagues ensues. They have my size. Holy moly! This is my day. Later I go the Gardnerville store and claim my elegant sandals. To put icing on the cake, I splurge. A pair of sporty, casual shoes half price ($15) jump out at me. I buy them. I’ve become a shoe junkie.
The best part of the whole day happens when I return to see Pat at the V.A. Clinic. I surprise her with a box of strawberries. Her smile is incandescent. “How did you know I liked strawberries,” she says.
What a great day. Nothing but nice people. There are a whole lot more good people in the world than stinkers. You just have to find them.
Ron Walker lives in Smith Valley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.