Today at the drugstore, the kid at the cash register was one of those Oversharers.
You know the type. Most often, it is an older person. Maybe lives alone. Maybe lonely. The old lady at the supermarket who starts by asking you about the pickles you are buying, and ends up telling you about her grandchildren, her arthritis, and how her Uncle Harold used to make, not only pickles, but pickled beets and pickled beans and a bit of moonshine on the side. And Uncle Harold was married to Aunt Helen, but he also had a girlfriend on the side. And they are all passed away now. But how she wishes she had the recipe. For the beets, not the hooch.
But the kid in the drugstore was a young boy, not more than twenty. He was cute, with dark curly hair and red lips.
I walked toward the register with my one pricey birthday card, the kind that doesn’t even say what you want it to say, but if you made one yourself that said what you wanted it to say, you’d look like a cheapskate, so there goes $8.99. (And of course, you know you will screw up the envelope.)
I was still fifteen feet from the register when the boy sprang up from the sunscreen aisle.
“All set to check out?” he asked.
“Well,” I said, “I still need a snack.” I have yet to exit a drugstore without a snack.
“Pick a good one!” he said. And I did. Snacks don’t get much better than potato chips. The kid approved. “I like those too. They’re the best.”
At the register, he told me he had just started his shift.
“I didn’t get a ride today. First time I had to walk all the way here. It’s a pretty long walk. And it would be such a hot day.”
Yes, his brown ringlets and forward looked a little damp.
“It’s nice, though,” I said. “It began to seem like we would need our parkas until the Fourth of July.”
He agreed. “Yeah, no kidding.” I’m not sure any place other than Connecticut says ‘no kidding’ as much as we do. But we say it a lot.
He rang me up. I didn’t have my discount card.
“Sorry,” he said. I understand that Canadians say this even more than New Englanders, but we apologize all the time here too.
“I got my tax refund today,” he said, apropos of nothing. “I’m going to buy myself something nice, and then I’ll bank the rest.”
Oh, I thought, the connection might be my snack. A treat. Maybe it made him think about treating himself.
“Good for you,” I said.
“Enjoy the rest of the day for me,” he said.
Well, that was a sweet way to say, ‘Have a nice day.’
A few years ago, this conversation would have made me uncomfortable. Why is he telling me about his tax refund? Why did he need to tell me about his walk?
But now, after this pandemic year, I think about these conversations differently.
Certainly, he was an Oversharer.
But the Pandemic has reminded me that you don’t have to be an elderly widow to be lonely. And you don’t even need a Pandemic to be lonely.
Too many people have no one to talk to. It is such a little thing to discuss your day. Not only do people have to keep their worries to themselves. They can’t even share their small happinesses.
I am an oversharer too. But I have a blog. I have a Twitter account. I can tell everyone important things, like how hard it is to see my mom in a nursing home. And I can share stupid, unimportant things, like how little girls wore big hair ribbons in 1910.
I have platforms that allow me to share. That makes me a fortunate oversharer.
This kid got his refund check. He’s going to buy something just for himself. He just wanted to share that little joy with someone.
He picked me.
That’s really nice.
It’s a compliment. He thinks I look like a kind woman. Someone he can talk to. A grandma that he can share good news with.
“Make sure you buy yourself something special,” I said.
My great-aunt Lillian’s class photo. She’s the little one seated on the left. Hair ribbons in 1910 were huge. I don’t know how little girls held their heads up. Thanks for letting me overshare.