I find that even in life, conversations between people can often hold a different meaning for each participant and I think this will be the first in a series of those conversations as they happened.
I heard the woman behind the counter say,
“up to 21!” as she handed over the coffee
to the person who was standing
in the line in front of me.
I knew her story vaguely
and as a woman of large stature
I thought I knew what her reference
was saying about her success.
When my turn came at the front of the line
I smiled and wished her well.
I said, “congratulations on your achievement,
I think you are well on your way!”
She stopped with the coffee still in her hand
and her face turned to stone.
She looked at me across the counter
as if I had just hit her.
She said, “Really how would you know
anything about me?”
“You who don’t even own a pair of boots
knows what it means to work?”
I stood there stunned and amazed
and realized she had no idea.
And that I had no idea either
of what she had actually meant.
I took the coffee from her hand
and laid the money on the counter.
I turned around and walked away
with my mouth still hanging open.
Not more than a few steps down the street
did I hear steps following me.
I braced myself for what would come
and slowly turned around.
She took me in her arms and said,
“I’m sorry, I’m losing my mind.”
I said, “I’m sorry as well, I thought
you had meant you were losing weight.”
“I had overheard you once before
saying that was your goal.
When you mentioned the number 21
it sounded like success to me.”
“I’ve been there”, I said,” I know how hard
that particular battle is.”
She said, “I wish it was that easy
my battle has a different name.
When you called it out to me
it did not sound the same.”
The battle she was fighting was
very different indeed.
She was saving money
to buy new shoes for her kid.