… but it was a memorable encounter for both of us.
I saw her coming and wondered if she was the one.
I studied her as she approached. She was in her mid-30’s, about my age. She was attractively dressed in the style that we then called “preppy” — oxford cloth shirt, chino pants and loafers. I had been prepared to feel instant disdain when I finally saw “the one”. I had pictured someone hard and foul-mouthed, or someone slovenly — certainly someone without any social graces. But this was a very pleasant-looking, well-dressed woman. She was probably very pretty when she looked you in the eye and smiled, but she wasn’t doing either right then. She looked uncomfortable and reluctant to meet my eye.
From her demeanor even as she was still walking toward me, I’m guessing she could feel me watching her. I’m sure she wondered if I knew she was the one.
As she got closer, she said without preamble, “Were some earrings found?”
I said, “Yes. Can you describe the ones you lost?”
She described the earrings that I had found exactly — she was the one.
I handed her the earrings and our eyes met briefly.
She said thank you and hesitated as if she would say more. But in the end she just gave me a guilty little smile.
Several things ran through my mind to say, but (totally out of character) I didn’t say any of them. Seeing her discomfort made me think that was enough. The fact that she knew I knew was enough. So, I just said you’re welcome, and she walked away.
What I would really have liked to say to her was, “Didn’t your mother teach you better?!”
I was working part-time at a department store. About an hour earlier I had gone in to do the routine pick-up of any clothes left hanging in the dressing rooms. But, when I opened the door to one room, I was shocked.
There was a huge pile of clothes thrown in one corner of the little room, and a pile of hangers in the other corner. I couldn’t believe that someone had treated all those new clothes they had tried on like trash they had thrown away. I immediately started re-hanging, buttoning and tying. But as I worked, I noticed something on the little shelf in the corner — a pair of earrings. I immediately thought, “So … I wonder if I’m going to get to meet the person who did this when she returns for her earrings?” And I did.
I like to think that it was uncomfortable enough for that woman to have to come face-to-face with the person who knew what she had done and probably had had to clean up after her, that she never did that again.
And seeing her was a good reminder to me “not to judge a book by its cover.” I had a preconceived notion of what kind of person would do something like that. A notion that was dispelled when I finally got to see “the one”.