Today as I was buying one-dollar sunglasses for the boys at Family Dollar, the next woman in line, with a little baby on her hip, said to the cashier, "I just left my husband a week ago, and I piled everything I have into the car. So I found a place to live, but I forgot socks and towels." She said it with a shaky smile on her face, although her eyes were big like she could cry. She was trying to laugh it off, but all I could do was gaze at her in disbelief with big stupid tears in my eyes and try to comfort her with my own fake smile. Then she asked the cashier, "Do you guys have bottle brushes here?" And was thrilled to find that yes, they were over there on the back wall....anyway, I haven't been able to stop wondering about her today. Did she have to make a fast exit, thereby forgetting socks and towels in her speed? Or was she simply unable to make proper inventory in her emotional state? Something in her voice made me want to say, "I have extra towels! I have socks! You can have some!" It was that you could feel her desperation, and I found that for a moment my own desperation matched hers. Desperation to help her, to provide some sort of soft place for her unbelievably weighty words to fall. I suppose it's strange to divulge such things in a dollar store, but I think it takes bravery to be overtly vulnerable.
Tonight, we went to the seventh birthday party of my friend's little girl. While the kids were outside, one man said to me in a voice that made everyone turn and look: "Want to see my party icebreaker?" I said, "Sure!" And he showed me his left pinky finger, which was missing the top part right under the first knuckle. He continued to tell us the story of how it happened--only a month ago--complete with two gory cellphone pictures. He was not only cheerful, but completely matter-of-fact about it. (Which also made him fascinating to listen to, thereby establishing his "party icebreaker" as the most unusual and captivating I've ever experienced.) "At least I get $2,000 out of it, since it happened at work! Not bad for a pinky tip."