You don’t get into Connie’s aisle if you’re in a hurry. They never, ever, put her in an express lane – there’d be a riot. I put my stuff on the conveyor, just as she walks away to wrap flowers for the guy at the front of the line.
“Hey, Gary, you need these wrapped separately?” She waves the two bouquets in the air. “You got two different girls?” She cackles at her own joke, and, luckily, he thinks she’s funny, too.
The woman in front of me, but behind Gary, is tapping her foot. Connie waves good-bye to Gary, tells him it was nice seeing him again. Gary tells her not to be a stranger, call sometime. Then, Connie focuses on the woman in front of me.
She scans the woman’s flour, chocolate chips. “Oh, someone’s doing some baking, hey? Gonna be good, I bet. And real butter, too. None of that low-fat, I don’t trust the low-fat, there’s always some fad, ain’t there, next thing you know they’ll be telling us to live on air! And love!” The woman smiles, but only with her mouth. She’s got a little girl with her. Connie likes the kids, none of them leave without a sticker. This kid’s shy, though.
“Oh, little cutie don’t want a sticker, huh? The shy ones, they’re so cute. What’s your name, cutie? She’s so blonde, look at that blonde hair. I used to be like that. But you know, I dye it, now, to get this color.” She points to her head. Yellow blonde, with 2 inches of black roots. “My daughter was blonde, like that, too. She just had a little one, 3 months ago, her hair’s really light, too. But I guess it changes, doesn’t it, you never know how they’ll end up, as long as she don’t end up a GD…” Connie looks around, lowers her voice to a whisper, “vegetarian! Her daddy’s a vegetarian, don’t know what my daughter was thinking, they’re not together anymore, of course. Those folks just ain’t right, all pale, and you know what, they even smell a little off, if you ask me.”
The woman’s mouth isn’t smiling anymore, and she’s not making eye contact, and she’s holding her money out, willing Connie to be done, to take the cash.
Another worker comes up to the till, tells Connie to go on her break, she’ll take over. Connie tells the woman thrusting the cash at her that she needs to go for lunch, she’s been on her feet since 10, so if you don’t mind, this lady’s gonna finish up your order. The woman looks relieved, finishes, points her kid to the door.
A supervisor sees Connie leaving. “There’s already 3 people gone. I’m not losing another one. You’ll wait.” Connie stares at her for a minute. Opens her mouth. Closes it again.
She slips back behind her cash register.
She smiles at me. “You know, I could stand all day in these shoes. They’ve got these insoles, they’re like pillows…”
And it’s her register and it’s her story, and I’m not in a hurry.