Three Words I Hate
“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 you want to hear.
“Oh, I am tired,” she responded a little surprised. “I haven’t slept in days.”
“Why not?” I said.
“We’ve had 3 break-ins in the past couple of weeks. I’m afraid to sleep.”
My heart hurt hearing her words.
“How awful.” I replied. “Can’t you move?”
I knew after I asked the 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 my order and we exchanged email addresses.
“I’ll pray,” I promised as I left with my daughter.
Clutching her email address scribbled on my receipt, I tucked it into my pocket.
I’m so glad I took a minute to talk to her.
Too often we look at people but we don’t see them. They talk and we don’t hear them.
One time at a function, someone asked my husband, “How are you?” Mike didn’t miss a beat,
“Rotten,” he responded.
But the conversation continued flawlessly. No one heard my tiny gasp.
Mike smiled at me whispering, “See?”
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 emailed 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 told me with a smile.
Her email was full of thank you’s, “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.
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 finally asked, “Can we please watch the news, just for a few minutes? I need some reality TV.”
“Sure,” I said, biding my time.
And so I half-watched the anchorman reporting the Peoria news that night. Until he shared one story. The name caused me to jump up and run to my computer.
Typing in the name, my stomach tied in knots. And up popped my emails with Tequila.
I trudged into the living room.
It was her. Tequila. The woman they just found in a dumpster.
She stayed on my mind for days. And this is what I’ve come away with.
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.
Someone may just need to talk.
Will you take a minute?
About Anne Peterson
I write words you can feel, sometimes they rhyme. If I'm not writing, I'm telling stories from my head, to little ones who call me grandma.