Summer break and a Safeway story.

Hi crew!

It’s been a while and a half, hasn’t it? I decided I was going to take a summer break, primarily because I did the Classic Lizzie Thing in which I totally overload myself with two classes, thirteen discrete projects at work, a slew of visitors in town every weekend, and a social life that has been nothing if not overcommitted. Oh and also trying to go to the gym regularly and get a new car (my lease was up) and plan out the NEXT several months of my life. So some things had to give, and my blog was one of them. Alas! Alors! Anyway!

I’m hopping back in with a happy little moment from yesterday, involving me being a scatterbrain and the world being kinder to me than I deserve. I’ve been a bit homesick lately, after a rough month or two in general, and it was such a great reality check.

It started with a Sunday afternoon trip to my local Safeway, which is generally a mistake. I’m actually coming to think that going to my local Safeway, period, is generally a mistake (someday I’ll tell you all of my passionate love for Trader Joe’s, oh dear). Sunday afternoons at my local Safeway are overcrowded, understaffed, and always frenetic, and I am never at my best when faced with that combination of circumstances. I was also post-gym and pool on this particular Safeway trip, which meant salty hair, minimal makeup, and a “weekend T-shirt” (my designation) of the variety that really shouldn’t see the light of day. This particular “weekend T-shirt” was a just-because gift from my mother with the old Dayton’s department store logo on it. This is relevant, I promise!

After gathering all my ingredients for coconut curry chicken meatballs, Mexican corn, and a week’s worth of salad lunches, I popped the prettiest bunch of perfect white hydrangeas into my cart on a whim. The checkout lines, per usual, were minimum five people deep, so I settled in and whipped my phone out to read while I waited. The guy behind me had different ideas, and struck up a conversation:

“You’re not from Minnesota, by any chance, are you?” he said. I goggled at him, completely dumbfounded. I hadn’t said anything, so the accent hadn’t given me away. I wasn’t wearing any sports gear or anything. So I affirmed, cautiously, “I am – how on earth did you know?”

“It’s your shirt,” he continued, “it’s the Dayton’s logo. I haven’t seen that forever.” And I laughed, and we started the most pleasant conversation about where we were from, how much we missed Minnesota, et cetera. He had just been home at a family cabin on the Whitefish Chain, and he hailed from a suburb right by mine. I was having so much fun chatting with him, in fact, that as I unloaded my cart I completely neglected to grab my hydrangeas out of the child seat basket.

So I got all rung out and the cashier had already started scanning my new friend’s items, and all of a sudden as I was wheeling my cart out of the lane I spotted my flowers. In typical Lizzie form, I spazzed, offered to go to the back of the line, offered to go put them back, and all the while the cashier and bag boy are looking at me like, “what the eff, lady,” which just made me more self-conscious and embarrassed.

My Edina guy, cool as a cucumber, swooped my flowers out of my cart and said, “Don’t worry about it, let me buy your flowers.” Guys, I could feel myself turning beet-red with mortification as I dug through my purse looking for cash to offer him and came up empty-handed. And again, he goes, “It’s no big deal, it’s just a nice thing to do – let me buy a fellow Minnesotan a bouquet, seriously.” And I’m simultaneously utterly charmed and incoherent, so there was much stumbling over words and profuse thanking and bumbling around like a dork.

I’m not sure why this was such a monumental big deal to me. Maybe it’s that I’ve been a little cynical lately about humankind in general and Californians to be specific. This is not the sort of thing that happens here, and I realized that I took all of that very much for granted at home – the door-holding, the bag-carrying, the general demeanor of pleasantness and assiduity. It felt, for just a minute, like I was home and surrounded by people who cared, just a little bit, about making other people’s lives easier and happier and brighter. And that, in that moment, was not only nice, but kind of essential. So we said our goodbyes, and I headed to my car, smelling my hydrangeas all the way and feeling just a little more faith in the goodness of humanity.