Her stories are short and exciting; bite sized, intriguing tales that start as she bags my groceries and end with the slam of the tailgate on my car. Like many of the baggers at our market, this precious girl, probably in her mid twenties, has a mild, cognitive challenge. I’m not really sure what it is, but I do know that if I pick the check-out aisle she is working, I’ll be regaled with yet another installment of her latest adventures. She rides horses, travels extensively, makes jewelry and has a fiancé. I hypothesized that she must have an amazing family that has dedicated themselves to providing her with a rich and fulfilling life. Her bubbly personality and interesting stories always fill me with hope that in spite of physical or mental challenges, a person can craft a blessedly ordinary, or even an extraordinary, existence.
Last week, as we walked to my car, we talked about the different places we both had lived. I told her that our family had lived in Miami many years ago. She said hers had too, and then proceeded to tell me about a “take your daughter to work day” experience she had with her dad who was a cop there when she was about 8 years old. He took her on a drug raid in a “bad neighborhood on South Beach.” There was a gun battle inside the home and one person was shot dead. The chief of police showed up and found her in a child’s room having rescued a small boy who was hiding in the closet. “Of course the chief didn’t know that I spoke some German” she said matter of factly, ” and I was able to question the boy and calm him down.”
Drug raid? Gun battle?
“The boy spoke German?” I asked.
As if to add credence to her unbelievable tale, she broke into rapid Germanic sounding gibberish.
Of course she didn’t know that I too spoke “some German..”
and just like that, but unbeknownst to her, the curtain fell and exposed the fantasies about her life that she..and then I..had both created.
We said our happy goodbyes and she hurriedly pushed my empty cart through the lot, smiling broadly and talking to herself the whole way back to the front door of the store.