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Excuse Me. Can You Give Me The Time?


I can’t wear watches.

Not that anyone really does anymore, but there is something in my system that makes clocks stop and the inside systems wind up so tight they die.

Creepy, I know.

I have no idea what causes this, but I like to say that it’s my magnetic personality that winds watches to their death. 🙂

That same mythical magnet also seems to draw weird situations my way.

On Friday I was in Savers, a huge thrift store with endless “treasure” potential.

(I should probably stop myself right here.  There is no shortage of strangeness there on any given day.

But I digress….)

Because staging jobs are popping up right and left and I am financially responsible for all of my own inventory, I look for deals on some of the decor pieces I need.

Friday was a particular jackpot kind of day and I had my cart heaping with great stuff.  To the point, actually, where people were concerned for their own safety as they saw me coming toward them.

I couldn’t see over or around the pile, so I was heading to the checkout counter.  Ever distracted by “one more thing”, I noticed a man coming toward me.

He was tattered and smelled a little funny, and looking back on it, he was most likely homeless or darn near close to it.

As he approached me, he was joking about my cart in his heavy spanish accent.  Then he asked me where he could find something that I couldn’t quite make out.  “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that,” I said.

“I’m looking for a pinky.  I lost mine,” and he held up his weathered  and life beaten hand.  Only four callused digits and a big scar where his pinky used to be.

We laughed at the prospect of finding someone’s old finger on the shelf and he told me I needed another cart.  I agreed, but told him I couldn’t push two carts at the same time and so needed to go and pay.

“I will push the cart for you,” he insisted.

“Really?” I asked, and he nodded with such sincerity that I could’t refuse his offer.

So there we were for the next thirty minutes, perusing through other people’s discarded stuff, and laughing at what we were finding.

Two strangers with nothing in common except this store and a little bit of time.

And strange as it was, I soon realized that all he wanted, the only reason he was willing to push my cart up and down all these aisles, was because he was lonely.

He probably felt like any one of the items on the shelves in front of us.

Forgotten.

Discarded.

Ignored.

Seemingly worthless.

But he found value in helping me.  In making me laugh.  He felt like a person because he was contributing.  Because someone was looking him in the eye and actually saying, “thank you,” and meaning it.

We got to the counter, me with my two carts of things for my business, and him with his only purchase – thermal underwear.

I don’t think we ever exchanged names.  I will probably never see him again.

But he touched my life by giving the only thing he probably had in this world.

His time.

And there it is.

Full circle.

This post started with a time piece and ended with time.

Hmmmm….

I can’t wear a watch, but I can still give other people the time.

And maybe for today, I’ll just leave it at that….

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