Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Regulars

Some people like to be regulars at a place. Alex has a coffee shop that he goes to sometimes twice in one day. At Christmas time they gave him a free mug just because they know him. He is abreast of who works there and where they're going to go to college. He loves it. It is my worst nightmare.

I, on the other hand, would sort of prefer to only see people once and then never again. I spread out my purchasing so people at stores and restaurants don't get too used to me. Sometimes though, it doesn't work out.

I get a refill on a Big Gulp every day at 7-Eleven and even though I have two or three key locations, the one closest to my house sees me more days than not. The other regulars and I will sometimes give nods to each other. The cashiers know me and joke with me. One even proudly showed me a photo of his daughter's wedding in Bangladesh after he returned from a visit there. Occasionally there is a new cashier who rings up my refill incorrectly, so one of my usual cashiers will step in to help.

I mentioned the other regulars. There are the lotto players and the drink fillers like me. There are maintenance and landscaping crews who get their daily drinks and lunches there. There are also sometimes the homeless, who come in to get coffee or food.

There was one lady who's been a regular on the 7-Eleven corner for a while now. I first met her on January 1, 2019. I remember that date because I was running past the road island where she was asking for money.

"New Year's resolution?" she asked, referring to my run. "My resolution is to get off the street this year."

I told her good luck and headed down the sidewalk, but I continued to think about her. I don't know her story. She usually wore a sign that said, "This is what domestic abuse looks like." I would see her in the 7-Eleven sometimes and I gave her money a few times. I always remembered the first time we met and although I'm sure she didn't remember me, I always wished I knew what to do to help her keep her resolution.

I went to the 7-Eleven today and drove past a couple of men talking in the parking lot as I parked. As I stood in line, the cashier—the one with the newlywed daughter—was talking to another regular about the woman.

"She died yesterday," he said. "That's her boyfriend out there. She had trouble with her kidneys. God bless her."

I feel sad. I wish she had made it. I wish that whatever her story was, that it hadn't been so hard, that it had a happy ending. I wish I had helped her more. I didn't know her name and she is gone now.

Her loss won't have a big impact on my life. Someone else will move into her spot. I will continue to give money sometimes and not do it other times. When someone who clearly needs help asks me to buy them food in a 7-Eleven, I will buy them whatever they need. But I won't have a big impact on their life either.

No matter what though, we are connected. Due to place, time, or even a need for cheap food or soda, we all orbit each other and we all affect each other. I'm not sure what the point of this is, but I felt the need to write. I wanted to say that I remember her. That she mattered, not just to her boyfriend, or the dog she sometimes had with her, but to others as well. I wanted to say that we are all regulars in each other's lives, whether we know it or not.

1 comment:

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