“You look tired,” I said to the young woman scanning my groceries.
I’m not one to just spit out the question, “How are you?” Maybe because I know people just say what they think you want to hear.
“Oh, I AM tired,” she responded a little surprised. “I haven’t slept in days.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“We’ve had 3 break-ins in the past couple of weeks. I’m afraid to sleep.”
Her words pierced my heart
“How awful.” I replied. “Why don’t you move?”
I knew after I asked this young woman my question, it wasn’t a good one. If she could have moved, she would have.
“I can’t afford to,” she said, confirming my thoughts.
And so I asked, “May I pray for you?”
A big smile covered her face. “I would love that.”
She finished scanning my groceries and we exchanged email addresses.
“I’ll pray,” I promised, as I left with my daughter.
Clutching her email address, which she scribbled on my receipt, I tucked it into my pocket.
I’m so glad I took a minute to talk to her. I’m so glad that I saw her.
One time at a function, someone asked my husband the traditional, “How are you?”
Mike didn’t miss a beat, “Rotten,” he responded.
But the person kept talking without a pause.
No one heard my tiny gasp. Mike grinned at me.
The way things were
I liked it better when people talked to each other.
I’m trying in my own way to bring that back. Like that day with Tequila.
She actually did email me a few days later. I knew it was her, she was the only Tequila I had ever met.
“My mom named me,” she had explained at the store…”everyone always asks me about my name,” she smiled. She had a sparkle in her brown eyes.
Her email warmed my heart:
“I want to thank you so much for talking to me that day. It really encouraged me and gave me hope. I could tell you and your daughter must know God. Thanks again. P.S. Please don’t forget to pray for me.”
And so I wrote Tequila back, asking her a couple questions. Do you have a lease? How big a place do you need?
Maybe the mission I knew in town could help her.
Someone needed to help her
But I didn’t hear back from Tequila.
And weeks turned into months, and those months turned into a year or more.
My husband and I finished watching a mindless sitcom when he asked, “Can we please watch the news, just for a few minutes? I need some reality TV.”
“Sure,” I said, biting my tongue. He knew I hated watching the news.
Finally the Anchorman shared one story that caused me to jump off the couch and run to my computer.
It was a name I had not forgotten.
Typing the name into my computer, my stomach tied in knots. Up popped my emails with Tequila.
I trudged into the living room.
It was Tequila. The woman they just found in a dumpster.
I felt like someone kicked me in the stomach.
She stayed on my mind for days. And this is what I’ve come away with.
People feel invisible
See that person in front of you? The one who’s scanning your groceries?
You have no idea what she’s going through. Nor do you know what your neighbor faces each day.
We need to open our eyes and make eye contact. We need to see others around us. To let them know we see them.
Someone may just need to talk.
Someone like Tequila.
Life is hard, so I write words to make it softer.
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