This store not that store
Thursday November 19th 2009, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Life

It was a wonderfully ordinary afternoon, and I thought, as I ran to the post office, then the pharmacy, how different it was to be able to run do such things than, say, how things were ten months ago.  I loved every minute of the freedom of it.

And I needed to pick up some milk and some soy milk on the way home for our hot cocoas.  Not a problem, the grocery store was a straight shot down that road and then left  and then home.

Nah, I think I’ll go to the one on Middlefield.

But the other one won’t involve any backtracking…

I went to Middlefield.

It was late afternoon by then and the Safeway was crowded, as groceries always are near dinner time. I was at the end of my checkout line when I saw a man standing behind me, scanning the rows, trying to figure out which would get him out the door the fastest.  Tall, a young face but hair gone already gray that reminded me that mine had gone prematurely so too–but I really can’t call mine that now at 50.

He had a bouquet of flowers in his hand.

I offered him to take the spot in front of me and smiled, “I’m not in any hurry. Go ahead.” He hesitated, then accepted.

After a moment, I admired his flowers. He looked away, then back, and  answered, “They’re for my girlfriend.” Then, hesitatingly,”I hope she forgives me…”

He told me he had heard someone pounding on his apartment door the night before and had had no idea who nor why and had had no intention of opening it to some…(he shook his head) out there.

Turned out it was her. Her car had been broken into, her computer was gone, she was very upset, and…

…and he hadn’t known and he hadn’t opened that door. He felt absolutely terrible.  He was hoping she would accept his gesture of peacemaking.

This time I was assuring him when I affirmed that those flowers were beautiful.  To make him feel better, I told him my brother had once stood his girlfriend up for a date–because his apartment complex was on fire.  His girlfriend, waiting and waiting, had finally driven over to his place to see what was up, feeling like something must be wrong–and when she didn’t see him in the crowd, she’d ducked past the firemen’s tape and had run in to try to save him.

(He was on the phone in the manager’s office by then, out of her sight, trying to call her to explain that he’d been trying to save his guitars when he’d suddenly realized, oh no!…  But I didn’t go into that level of detail in the telling.)

I continued, “Our mom said to Bryan, You have to propose to her. Nobody else can live up to that story.”


It immediately hit me that I didn’t know why I’d phrased it that way.  What Mom had said, was, “You have to marry her. Nobody else can live up to that story.”

But it strongly felt like, the way I’d said it was the way this man needed to hear it, and it had just popped out the way God had intended in spite of how I of myself would have phrased it.  It felt like, stand back, Alison, I’ll take over here.

Wow.  And huh.

He asked, “And did he?”

There was much joy in my face as I smiled and nodded yes, thinking how much I adore my sister-in-law.

We talked a little about his girlfriend’s dog; how to win it over.  He remarked on its having white fur now around its muzzle, and I grinned, “Don’t we all.”  That stopped him a moment, as if he hadn’t noticed my gray hair before just then, nor, almost it seemed like, his own.

He was lost in thought and I left him to himself as his things were checked out, while the clerk, who’d been quietly listening in on the whole thing, smiled a deep smile, first at the man, then at me.

And then the clerk was suddenly calling after the man’s back–he’d completely forgotten to take his groceries with him. The salmon steak for two.  Those flowers.

It wasn’t till I was driving home that it hit me that I could just picture that man in that line telling his girlfriend that evening that nobody else should have to live down a story like that.  I could just picture him proposing over a salmon dinner and flowers.

I of course don’t know if he did: I do know that somehow, before that thought had even jelled, I came out of there feeling absolutely elated on his and her behalf for their future, so much so that I wanted to dance.

And to knit her a wedding shawl.

14 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I hope he does, and I hope she accepts. Lovely story! You sound a bit like Don’s Amalie, suggesting thoughts of proposing at the right time!

Comment by LynnM 11.20.09 @ 2:01 am

I so wish I listened to the promptings like you do. You have such a wonderful gift.

Comment by Laura 11.20.09 @ 5:24 am

And I just know, knowing you, that in the course of time you will hear about the two of them.

Thanks for the morning smile!

Comment by Barbara-Kay 11.20.09 @ 5:27 am

How amazing are those moments when, indeed, it seems God takes over and says the right at the right time…

Of course you would love to knit her a wedding shawl! That story would not have been complete without that line.

Thank you, as well, for the morning smile!

Comment by Suzanne in Mtl 11.20.09 @ 6:01 am

Two great stories in one. Oh how I hope she has a heart as fine as his…

As an aside, clearly I do need to reflect and figure out who I need to forgive right now. That’s twice this morning it’s come up.

Comment by Channon 11.20.09 @ 7:47 am


Comment by Diana Troldahl 11.20.09 @ 7:56 am

He needed some kindness, and you are the perfect person for that job. He will always remember you and everything you said.

Comment by Sonya 11.20.09 @ 8:01 am


Comment by Jody M 11.20.09 @ 8:05 am

Beautiful story! And I know what you mean about the feeling of freedom. Just being able to stand up on my own (most of the time), and move around the house is a great feeling.

Fun time –

Thieves who steal corn from a garden could be charged with stalking. 

We’ll never run out of math teachers because they will always multiply. 

The math professor went crazy with the blackboard. He did a number on it. 

The professor discovered that his theory of earthquakes was on shaky ground. 

Comment by Don Meyer 11.20.09 @ 10:47 am

Thank you for the “Pay Attention to the Nudges” reminder. And a (small) suggestion: Knit the shawl!

Comment by Joan 11.20.09 @ 12:49 pm

You have to go back & find him so (as Paul Harvey always said) we can know the rest of the story! What a nice story.

Comment by Cathy 11.20.09 @ 2:06 pm

Do you suppose we could convince you to get a
“business” card with, say, your name and website and whatever else? That way you could have, in this instance, given him one and said, “Lemme know how it works out.” Could it be I’m just a snoop? LOL! Nah! I’ve learned to trust that some day you’ll find out.

Comment by Carol Telsey 11.20.09 @ 3:55 pm

Lovely story – and your SIL? Rcoks! I wonder if he did propose? Somehow, I think he might.

Comment by Lene 11.22.09 @ 8:54 pm

Despite not being a deist, I believe that guardian angels do exist – in ourselves and others. You are proof positive.

Comment by twinsetellen 11.24.09 @ 9:17 am

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>