I’m hot and frazzled, dazed by the dizzying array of choices in Bed Bath & Beyond. I’ve come, overdressed in the under-chilled November air, in search of silver polish to address the tarnish covering an old, intricately etched trivet. Although pressed to make it to my morning yoga class on time, I’m aiming to accomplish this task quickly.
I run the gauntlet of “As Seen On TV” and travel size items before getting to the cleaning supplies, where I find a dozen choices. Creams, gels, foams, wipes… all promising to do slightly different things in marginally different ways. Really? I just want the silver to not be black. I grab the largest bottle for the smallest price, as if I’ll be polishing treasure chests full of the stuff for decades to come.
I have chosen the check out line – one of only two open – with someone who must be refurbishing and refurnishing a palace full of bathrooms, oblivious to my rush.
“These towels are great! What a nice grey!” the cashier sings as she scans each of the four-dozen with glacial speed and attentive appreciation. Really? I shift from foot to foot, sure that this will actually help speed things along, and completely abandon the yoga breathing that I instruct students to use in just these moments.
“Yes, thank you! I am redoing mine and the guest bathrooms and….”
This chatter just fans the flames of my impatience, so I try to tune it out, while secretly hoping that she of the multitudinous towels will spontaneously combust. Gazing over my shoulder, I redirect my attention to the growing line growing hot and bothered. Why don’t they call another cashier?
Directly behind me, a middle-aged man and his more aged mother abide. Their plight engages and distracts me.
“Mom,” the tall, balding, doughy son says. “How many bags of gummy candy do you need?” Slight irritation tinges the question. He is, I notice, clad head to toe in navy blue. Jeans, t-shirt, windbreaker, and Converse sneakers. He cradles an armful of assorted Welches chewies.
She, short, frail, and uniformly cream-colored, holds a bath math that matches her bony hands. Her burden is lighter and less awkward. Her answer has no edge. “That many.”
Back in front of me, the checkout process has come to a near halt over cotton country of origin. “What makes Egyptian cotton so special?” muses the redecorator.
I turn back to the mother and son, who are now silent, accepting their fate in Twilight Zone check out hell.
“Do you need a coupon?” I ask. They look at each other, and then back at me.
“Really?” they say simultaneously, looking like they’ve won the Powerball jackpot.
“Sure. I have a ton,” I assure them, thrusting the blue-rubber-banded bunch of the ubiquitous blue-bordered BB&B coupons (that seem to exclude everything yet never expire) in my hand at them.
“You made her day,” the son says with a softened voice. “You have no idea.”
“That’s so nice of you!” she interrupts. “Mine are at home; I always forget to bring them!”
“I keep them in the car,” I explain.
“In the car!!!” they chime in unison at this Eureka moment.
I spy the price tag on her ecru bathmat: $14.99. She will save $3. Three dollars have brought her joy.
Finally, I check out and look back and wish them a nice day. They thank me again as they begin to explain to the cashier, who now compliments them on their array of Welches gummy candy, “That nice lady just gave us one of her coupons!” And the glowing cashier, “Oh, that’s so sweet!” I’m not sure if she’s talking about me or the gummies, but it matters not. I feel calm and compassionate even in the absence of yoga breathing.
I’ve forgotten how sweaty and late I now am. In reality, they have made my day,