An 80-Year-Old Business Man Gave Me This Shocking Advice as a Teen
I never forgot it — no matter how hard I tried.
I was 19 years old, home from college for the summer, and helping out at my family’s coin shop, as all teens do (Hold on — does your family not have a coin shop? That’s weird).
One afternoon, an elderly man entered, and he ambled over to a showcase filled with rare coins. I was sitting in the back room, watching him through a smudgy glass window. I didn’t work on commission, so when a customer appeared my technique was to get up from my chair in slow motion, giving coworkers enough time to beat me to it. Despite my best effort, it didn’t work this time, so I was forced to go talk to him.
“Hi,” I said as I approached. “Can I help you with anything?”
The man wore rumpled slacks, a baggy button-down shirt, and faded Oxfords — an outfit I’d classify as “grandpa casual.” He asked me if we sell Silver Eagles, and I gave him the long, elaborate answer that I can no longer recall because I don’t know 90% of the things I knew when I was 19. I also knew all the words to “Frosty the Snowman” in Sign Language and could eat a case of leftover McDonald’s chicken nuggets without even thinking about botulism. I’m not half the woman I was back then.
Once I had finished giving him the Silver Eagle scoop, the man cleared his throat and got wistful glimmer in his eye.
“You know, miss, you must be careful,” he began. “There are a lot of bad men in this world.”
I figured I was about to receive some profound advice on life — old men have so much wisdom to impart! And I was ready for it. I leaned in a little closer to hear him better.
“I want you to know,” he continued, “that I couldn’t follow anything you just said because I can’t take my eyes off your chest.”
I let his advice wash over me, like a trash-riddled tide on a Long Island beach. “Excuse me for just one moment while I get someone who can help you,” I said.
I retreated to the back room, bringing with me the aggressive spectacle that was my chest. Once on the other side of the closed door, I found my mom and grabbed her by the elbow.
“I need someone to go help that man,” I whispered with my lips so still that they could have tricked a ventriloquist. “He just told me he can’t take his eyes off my chest.” My mom looked down at my shirt.
“Well, you are looking pretty busty today,” she said. So it was true!
I never forgot this man’s valuable lesson for me: that on any given day, when I’m simply trying to do my job, men might have a hard time following me because they are transfixed by my mammary region.
Now, I exclusively wear old potato sacks to work.