Sometimes people go to work and don’t come home.

Saturdays are about a variety of things for a lot of people. Some folks do their laundry, take a spinning class, go on a hike, meet friends for coffee, take the pup on an extra long walk and get groceries. Others work at places where folks do these things.

Saturdays always seem particularly alive in Los Angeles. Especially between the aisles of the Trader Joe’s location in Silverlake. Different characters hum and sing along to the store’s 80’s playlist. Friendly mates in casual and mostly Hawaiian inspired attire, greet you with a smile and the question if you need any help. You get free coffee and snacks, and someone might also hand out the featured fruit of the day.
This past Saturday this place of familiarity, great customer service and employees who never seem to have a bad day, got violated. And for one person who worked there, it should be the last time to hear the melody the credit card reader makes, once you remove your payment.
 
Never ever have I spoken a single word to Melyda Corado, nor do I know anything about her. Yet, I can’t get her out of my mind.

I moved to Los Angeles about 13 years ago. The reasons why I left Germany back then, seem to fade more and more into the background. It’s not about why I moved here anymore. Now I’m just here.
It’s the same day to day life as anywhere else — filled with work, chores, friends coming and leaving and projects that hopefully won’t lose it’s fight to procrastination. Topped off with lots and lots of traffic and thankfully an extraordinary amount of sunshine. 
One of my first memories arriving in LA , is a trip to the store with a girl named Nicole, who I stayed with for the very first night. She took me to the neighborhood Trader Joe’s for a bottle of red wine. 
“This will help with the jet lag”, she said.
I was so excited and amped-up, I must have been a real annoyance to her. 
“It’s nothing special, only a supermarket.”
“Yes… but a supermarket in Los Angeles!”, I squealed. 
Nicole zoomed through the aisles to get to the wine, while I couldn’t take in all of the items on the shelves fast enough. The music was blasting and the cool temperature was one of the many reasons, why I came to love this store. I was even more intrigued when I found out, the mother company is based in Germany.

L.A. can be a lonely place if you lose track of yourself and your purpose. Often, relationships are tied to partying and to creative endeavors and become non existent with the finishing of such. 
Most are here for the entertainment industry, and the joke that even your dentist has got a headshot and an agenda, is only funny until he pulls out his SAG-AFTRA card and tells you, that he wants your agent also to be his. If you’re not careful, your entire life becomes about commercial success and how many gigs you’ve been booked or rejected for. I’m not making it a secret I’ve been struggling with these aspects. I imagine tons of people do.

Every day I work on appreciating the normal things in life. Recognizing that I might never be fully happy, even if I was commercially successful. That contentment can only arise from within. And that going to the grocery store, can be the most uplifting experience of your day, when in the middle of a dark patch. 
In the grocery store everyone is the same. It doesn’t matter if you make a lot of money or if it’s barely enough to fill your basket. No one cares if you just worked out and are drenched in sweat. No special treatment if you’re a producer or the one who gets the coffee. The cashier will be friendly to you, no matter if you’re sick or healthy. You meet old friends with their new babies and sometimes you even hold them. Accents are more than welcome, as half of the customers are from all over the world anyway. And if you’re lucky, the handsome guy in the produce section will pay a little extra attention to you while you pick your avocados. 
Trader Joe’s is a constant in the midst of the L.A. lifestyle. It represents community and a bit of safety. What has been done to it, puts a lump in my throat.

Never ever have I spoken a single word to Melyda Corado, nor do I know anything about her. Yet, I can’t get her out of my mind. 
I wonder, if she lived with roommates or alone. I wonder, if she had animals at home. I wonder, if she preferred coffee over tea. Wonder, if she loved the mountains or the sea. I wonder, if she had any idea this past Saturday would be her last. 
I hope she was content with where she was at. Hope she was happy to have been alive. I hope she has loved and been loved in return and I pray, that’s what lastly occupied her mind.

I’m outside Trader Joe’s. Multiple camera teams from multiple TV stations are gathered at the curb. The wall is plastered with hundreds of colorful post-it’s and cards, expressing the community’s grief, condolences and love. Red heart balloons are floating in the hot breeze, which carries the scent of all the flowers Melyda received.

A young man stands next to me. He cries quietly. His nose is running and behind his sunglasses, tears make their way down onto his white shirt. I only glance at him shortly because I’m too scared to intrude on his grief. But not much time is needed to see, Mely meant a big deal to this boy. And for a second I meet her through him. The reporters approach and I hush away.