I had a busy day of doctoring in Gresham today and didn’t really want to stop at the store on the way home. Then I found out that Louise was going to be at work till 8:00 and I changed my tune. Milk and bread? Check, no problem.
Fred Meyer at 6:30 was a bit of a daunting prospect, but it actually wasn’t as crowded as I expected. Once I finished my shopping I started roaming around the store, checking out the customers. My shopping cart had a funky wheel or something, so as I walked it went “kadjakadjakadjakadjakadja”.
I’d been sitting all day and it felt really good to walk. I made at least three loops around the (huge) store.
There was quite a diverse crowd. Lots of piercings and plugs, an elderly woman with a Santa hat, hippie couples, two guys with GIMONGOUS beards, and lots of well-dressed women of child-bearing age. I kept walking, looking for the right person (not too well off) in the right place (alone).
I fell in behind what seemed to be a young family: mom, dad and two young boys -one in the cart and the other walking close beside. The man was smiling and laughing with the woman, playful and happy. I got a little closer.
They were moving pretty fast and I was now hot on their trail. It seemed like any minute they would notice the noisy cart and turn around. I figured they would have to stop sooner or later, so I just rolled along. Kadjakadjakadjakadjakadja followed them all the way to the meat section, where they came to a stop.
I hung back for a minute, making sure. “Am I in your way here?” the woman asked, starting to move her cart. “Oh, no. You’re fine,” I said. The man dashed off to grab something from one of the shelves. Then the little guy in the cart caught my eye and gave me one of those baby waves, opening and closing his fist.
“Hi,” I said. “Say ‘hi’,” prodded his mom. He nodded his head slowly, smiling shyly through his pacifier. “Did you see me following you?” I asked him. He nodded solemnly.
Dad came back with a package of sausages and now the five of us were gathered around. I told them that I had something I wanted to give them, a gift. The man smiled and shrugged. “Sure, why not?”
I put the hundred in the woman’s hand, although is was folded up pretty small and I’m not sure she saw what it was. “Really?” she asked. “Wow, thank you!” said the man. The woman reached out and gave me a big hug. The man said, “I’d hug you, too, but I just got off work and I smell bad!” I wanted him to know I couldn’t smell a thing, but instead I just wrapped my arms around him.
The guy was wearing a name tag from Petco that said “Tony”. She said her name was Leigh. They’ve been foster parents for the baby for over a year, since he was two days old, and the older child for three years, since he was five. The adoption process should be final any time now. Because of that, they asked me not to post the kids’ pictures. They’re cute – trust me!!
“This is so awesome!” said Tony. “Thank you so much!” Leigh just smiled and smiled.
As we were saying goodbye, I told the young boy to have a great Christmas. He was smiling widely. “Okay, I will,” he said. His mom quickly stepped in. “Thank you, ma’am!” she corrected.
PS I got a pretty random email a few weeks ago from someone in my hometown of Oakland, NJ. Charlie McCormick and his wife Caron put out a pretty nifty online news journal and wanted to do a little story on Hundreds of Hundreds. You can check it out here.
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