As I walked up behind them, it was clear he was having problems with the credit card machine and was getting frustrated by it. The young woman cashier looked antsy as he inserted his Target card over and over only to have it beep and decline. Finally she said, 'Let me try something different', and took the card from him. I was trying to formulate a plan for a graceful (and non-violent) escape when a new mother with a baby seat on her cart pulled up behind me; oblivious.She started piling her stuff on the belt, realizing too late that there was a kerfuffle happening at the front of the line. She clued in after she had heaped her Enfamil and Huggies high and it was too late to get out unnoticed.
I looked down the the guy's arm and noticed one of his tattoos was a bear with a star. I asked if he was from California (because it looked like the CA flag). He said 'YA', in a 'what are you going to do about it' voice. I replied, 'Cool! I love your ink.' He kind of looked at me funny, and I said that I loved to look at tattoos. I told the girlfriend that I liked hers too. Their whole demeanor changed and they started telling me about all of the symbols and what they meant. There wasn't one single gang or white supremacy one to be found, just designs symbolizing places they had lived, family and friends and, in one odd case, a 'special' love that Winnie the Poo has for Eeyore. I confessed to having a wimpy tattoo and stuck out my wrist to show the tiny pink paw print, star, flower, raindrop, and semi-colon I have grouped there. He grabbed my wrist and looked closely and said that it was 'dope' and that he had never seen an all-pink tattoo. 'You should get a pink one, Mommy', he crowed to his love. At this point, the cashier pulls up her sleeve and reveals a colorful kitty cat tattoo on the underside of her forearm. It was a bonafide mutual admiration society!
I asked the girlfriend if she was having a boy. I felt safe asking because they were purchasing a huge amount of blue, infant clothing, and she said that they were as she beamed. I asked the lady behind me how old the baby in the car seat was and the pregnant lady squeezed back by me to look and coo. The minute she said that the baby girl was adorable, the two ladies were off to the races; besties in the commonality of motherhood/impending motherhood and all that that entails.
Finally the clerk made the card work and got them all checked out. When they left, they told us all to have a nice day in a genuine, enthusiastic way. The clerk looked relieved and sighed, 'That didn't turn out like I thought it was going to!'
After she checked me out, I strolled over to Starbucks before I headed out. The 'gangstah' couple was in the back of the line. They smiled and said 'hi' when I walked in and the guy asked what I was having. I thought he was trying to decide what to get so I told him that I was getting green iced tea and that it was one of my favorites. As they ordered, I was drawn to pastry case, pressed my face against it and said 'hello' to all of the pretties inside like I usually do. I stepped up to order and the clerk said, 'I've got you.'. I thought I had been caught leering at the cake pops in a particularly lascivious manner and started to protest that I meant no harm and hadn't drooled on the case (this time), when she said that the couple ahead of me had paid for my green iced tea..size Venti!
I thanked them as they were leaving and wished them good luck on their impending little one. The incident stayed with me all afternoon. Such a lot of lessons; not judging a book by it's cover being the biggest and being kind to strangers thrown in for good measure. People are inherently good. All you have to do is push into their airspace and give them a nudge!