This morning, I was at the grocery store shopping for a few last minute items for the weekend. A store clerk with special needs was stocking the shelves and saying hello and trying to give high fives to all of the patrons coming down aisle 9. I gave him a big hello and handshake. He then followed me down the aisle and starting commenting about all the things in my cart, telling me if he liked them or not.
I realized that out of all of the busy customers rushing around the store, I was the only person thus far who acknowledged him. Everyone else just pretended he wasn't there when he said hello. Some even went out of their way to avoid him. Just as I was putting my Nature's Valley granola bars in the cart, a beautiful blond lady came down the aisle in her workout clothes with a cart full of snack foods.....I immediately thought...mom of teenage boys. The young store clerk gave her a high five and she stopped and asked him how he was and told him he was doing a great job and that he should enjoy the sunshine. He told her that he wanted to go get ice cream later and she said it was the perfect day. They both agreed that mint chocolate chip was their favorite flavor.
As she spoke, I noticed her thick southern drawl and I had to chat with her. I asked her where she was from thinking Texas. "Born in Kentucky, darlin'. Lived there until 6 years ago and then Atlanta and now here....I hate it. I know you all have this city pride, but I am itching to get out of here. 2 more to get off to college and thankfully all the boys (I was right!) are choosing southern schools and then my husband and I are heading back down. This place is breaking me. No one is kind, nice, or real. No one can slow down and say hello to a man who needs a little encouragement. I need me some sweet tea and some sweet hearts."
I told her I was moving south in September for love and a better life and she gave me a hug. Told me the little city I will call home is her favorite city in the south. Asked me for my number, just in case she ever came down.
As we exchanged niceties about our weekends, she looked me in the eye and told me, "Honey, you have a southern heart. I feel it. Do you realize that you and me, we are the only people who spoke to the young man stocking the shelves? Just us. What is wrong with this world? We should be building up and we are only breaking down. You just made my day, don't you forget it. Someone raised you right. I see good in you. Best of luck and tell your man, he got a good one with you, honey." She then gave me a big hug and went on with her day.
So, she noticed me, just as I noticed her.
As she walked away, I smiled and my eyes welled up with tears (I am such a softie these days!). The world keeps giving me signs, now that I am ready to receive them.
And she is right, there is nothing better than sweet tea and sweet hearts.
The store clerk saw my tears and told me "DON'T CRY!" and I let him know that they were just happy tears and he giggled. "HAPPY TEARS!" and continued doing his job with his sweet heart.