Something really touching happened at work the other day. And it just kept getting better and better as I observed.
Which is nice, on a shit day at work. This was Monday number 4 in my work week, in case you were curious.
I was in our D concourse store, ringing.
See? That’s pretty shitty right there, since my job description isn’t heavy on the cashiering responsibilities.
I’d received an urgent text from Giggles about an emergency potty break, groaned and headed out to the D store – go ahead and make that dirty, you reprobates- which is conveniently located as far away from my then current position as possible. Actually, it might be a toss up for fartherst, but it was still damned not where I wanted to be when Giggles’ Aunt Flo hit town – sometimes I know too much about my co-workers. I was grumbling to myself along the near quarter mile trip to the store when I realized it was actually minutes past the end of her shift and checked my grumble because she had officially entered the realm of “beyond” in what she does for us. Hard to be mad at that. Plus, apparently her body was well enough trained to not drop an egg until the end of her shift. That’s pretty impressive.
Or at least an impressive coincidence.
So, I get into the store, chuck a thumb over my shoulder to let her know to GTFO and handle her business.
Of course, in typical smart assed Galby-style as I’m moving the customer in her line to my register, I crack wise to her current customer who returns my sass with a bit of his own…even addressing me by name as he does so. This all has the effect of both confusing and intriguing Giggles, distracting her from the natural phenomenon trying to occur within her enough for her to ask whether we know each other.
We both continue to chuckle it off as I say something along the lines of, “We go back minutes, literally. Get out of here!” and start helping my line of customers.
None of that was my feel good moment.
I’m often wont to notice men in team sweats and military uniforms moving about the airport. It’s my own little pervy-ESP. I was vaguely aware of a guy in the store wearing his desert camo fatigues as I was helping a customer…
Here’s my aaaaw moment.
He’s over by the wall of magazines and a little old lady walks into the store and – slowly – bee lines it for him. Walking up, gently extending her hand and saying something I couldn’t quite hear. He takes her hand in his, replies and she quietly turns to leave.
I’m aware of this out of the corner of my eye and also realizing what a lil cutie this GI is at the same time. Giggles distracts me by walking in and demanding an explanation as to the customer I was cracking wise with earlier.
Girl, go! It’s your Friday!
But she persists and counters her presence with the fact that she had an emergency but didn’t want to bail without completing her end of shift responsibilities. Another aaaw moment, albeit it a boss versus human aaaaw moment. Especially since she was being considerate of an associate who was now 15 minutes late to relieve her.
I had basically walked into the store to kick her out as she was soliciting a customer donation to our airport’s USO lounge. It’s my driving focus at work, so it was enjoyable as a leader to walk in and catch one of my team in the act of doing something right.
Especially right before one of our servicemen happened into the store.
“Was he a friend of yours?!?”, Giggles is probing. “You seemed to know each other! Was he from corporate?”
“I’m sure I don’t know”, I reply wondering if this was actually someone I did know and had forgotten about versus just someone who read my name badge, “But if he was, aren’t you glad you asked him to support our Troops lounge?”, I taunted.
Speaking of troops, our handsome GI was now in my line, ready to check out.
I’m not the best at soliciting Troops donations, I probably ring an hour or less per week. Still, I’ve got about $550 in snack and travel items donations for the year. I think that’s pretty good for about 50 hours of jockeying a register.
I give some pretty good side eye to Sales associates who work 40 hours a week and haven’t managed to surpass my results…thinking that I’m on a team at work and in their world, they are the team.
But I’m conflicted asking the two customers in front of our cute GI, “Woild you like to send a snack or a travel kit to our USO lounge?” while making furtive glances at a sorta grinning GI in my line.
I’m sure a negative response is uncomfortable in this scenario and that’s not my goal…but let’s call it a fringe-y type benefit.
When our cute GI reaches me, he drops a razor, shaving cream and toothpaste on the counter.
“Have you been to the USO lounge here? They probably have this stuff.”
“I actually haven’t, but there’s no time”, he tells me, “my family is picking me up!”
He tells me about a journey of delayed and rerouted flights, but finally making it home to Portland.
I wish him a happy holiday and he’s gone.
The Mulligan is kicking around my brain as I watch him leave and keep running that register until my Tardy Boy employee finally arrives.
This coincides nicely with Giggles’ departure, and while we leave a few minutes apart, I catch her with my long-legged gait handily.
So, here’s Giggles and I, walking through PDX. She’s trying to determine the veracity of my ignorance claim regarding her last customer. I’m just chatting. She’s fun to shoot the breeze with.
Suddenly, I realize that we’re standing outside one of the bathrooms and I find myself looking for a way to let her out of the conversation thinking there’s some ovary pong issues still to be resolved. Then I realize that we’re outside a men’s room. I get all neurotic thinking that this is an area rife with distraction for me but also cognizant of how tacky it is to hang out outside a men’s restroom.
It’s an airport, not a rest area.
I suggest we move.
We head toward the exit, still chattering away.
We get through the exit lanes – which are new to a PDX and apparently the most up to date and secure in the country…they just remind me of the final scenes of Love, Actually – and there’s a group of people waiting to meet their loved ones as they arrive. One group in particular is holding a homemade sign saying “Welcome Home!” With a picture of our cute GI on one side and a second picture of him as a boy on the other.
Little sister is standing in front of the sign, Dad is flanking and Mom is holding the sign. They are excitedly speculating what could be the hold up.
I casually pull up alongside Mom and whisper to her that her son will be along shortly, he’s shaving and brushing his teeth before coming out to meet them. She beams back at me briefly with a mixture of relief and what I assume is pride and love that only a mother fully understands.
I move on with Giggles, wishing I could stop and lurk to see the homecoming scene but completely in love with this family’s Christmas Present.
I hit my pre-security store and as I’m heading down to my office on the baggage claim level, I see our GI and his family boarding the escalator. Our GI lifts his shirt casually to huck up his fatigues, exposing a rather fit soldier physique and I can’t help but think what a nice package this guy is. Wherever he lands, his chosen family will be getting a guy with roots, a sense of duty and a darned nice looking patooty, to…boot.
Regardless of any fleeting lurid thoughts, I was happy to know that someone so naturally good was out there representing our country and I mentally thanked him for his service.