Allegory of a Texas Man

There was a man who worked at Central Market in South Lake, Texas. His job was a little awkward. He wasn’t a cashier or a bagger or a stocker. He was an attendant. Every time I saw him, he was positioned where the shelves of chips met the end of the chocolate aisle, midway between the best sea salt-almond milk chocolate bar ever made and the finest jarred salsa in Texas. Not once did I see him snacking. It must have been torture.

I don’t know how many times I walked by this man. Ten. Twelve. Nearly every time I went grocering in the evening hours.

Every time I saw him, the man would ask, “Can I help you find something?”

I always said “No,” because there were plenty of signs and I’m an independent shopper type. I have to be utterly lost or in a special kind of hurry to ask where to find something in a store.

It occurred to me the other day what a lonely job that must be, standing there, waiting for someone to need you, offering help, but getting declined for most of your shift.

Then, I thought, maybe he took that job for a reason other than money. Maybe he was lonely at home too. Maybe he wanted to talk to someone.

I have a hard time talking to people I don’t know. Even if they talk to me first, I think ‘Why would they want to talk to me?’ I get nervous and I don’t know what to say. When I do open my mouth, my words are often wrong and only once in a month of Sundays can I think up something clever.

I spend so much time being crazy in my head, I forget that most people are a little unsure and everybody wants to make a connection.

The world can be an awfully lonely place when you let it.

Maybe I should have let him help.

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