In years past, twice to be honest, I have gone out with my wife to go shopping the day after Thanksgiving. After hours upon hours of running, squeezing, yelling, and fighting, both times at the end of the ordeal I told my wife, "Never again."
Last year I actually got into a tug of war over a Care Bear with a woman at one of the stores as she yelled at me, "I saw it first!"
I simply responded, "I pulled it off the shelves first!"
In fact, I had already taken a few steps away from the shelf when the woman put her mitts upon the toy in my hands and began tugging.
So, yesterday morning, as I lay in bed with chapters of my book dancing in my head, my wife says at five in the morning, "I need to go shopping. I have a few things to get, and I was hoping you would go with me."
"Oh,no, not this time," I replied in terror.
"No, no," she said. "This year I am not going to Wal-Mart. This time it is just Target. I promise, it won't be as bad."
Hesitantly, I agreed.
After shopping amidst a mild crowd, while waiting in line to pay for the items (which is where the real shoving and pushing seemed to be), I struck up a conversation with a gentleman a little older than myself, and with a woman in line behind him. The dialogue primarily revolved around how things have changed (I tell my kids the only consistently in life is that everything changes - holy cow, sounds like a David Bowie song). We told stories about when color television was a new thing, and about life without the modern conveniences of today.
I recounted a conversation I once had with my daughter, when I once told her that when I was a kid we didn't have microwave ovens. Well, she about gasped. "How, then, did you heat up your food?" was her innocent reply.
The story received a chuckle, and then we paid for our items and departed.
As my wife and I walked out of the store, it occurred to me that I should have given the gentleman one of my business cards which has the URL of my main site on it because it seemed to me he was the type that was a reader. My wife agreed, took the bags, and I returned to the store only to locate the man standing near the exit examining his receipts. I approached him, indicated I enjoyed the conversation, and offered my card.
The ensuing conversation revealed that he used to work for NBC, and something about his son's business being connected, I think. Anyway, I gave him my card and then he asked that question everyone asks. "What do you write?"
You know, after hearing that question as many times as I have, you would think that I would have a consistent response for it. Usually it's, "Uh, books."
This time it was a little better. I said, "I write political thrillers."
"Oh, how so?"
Hmmm. "Kind of a cross between conspiracy thrillers and international thrillers. A host of an internet radio show compared my writing to David Baldacci's."
The radio show sparked more conversation, and then eventually we parted ways, and the gentleman seemed sincere when he said that he would visit my site.
The fact that he has television connections made me feel fortunate about bumping into him.
As we drove away from the packed parking lot, I asked my wife if she wanted any breakfast.
But I desired something new. Something different. Then I realized that we have lived in Murrieta since 1989, and there is a small cafe in Temecula that has been there the whole time that we have never visited. So off to Penfolds we went.
While there, I thought it interesting that another couple that arrived just a little after we did, declined a booth for a table. My wife and I always prefer a booth, and actually we will wait extra time if we have to for one.
Then I heard the gentleman tell the waitress that it was because he wanted to keep an eye on his truck. Instinctively, I looked out the window and parked with its nose up to the window was a fire-engine-red antique truck.
Being the talker that I am, I said, "I don't blame you, it's a nice truck."
The couple chuckled, and then explained that the truck they wanted to watch, the one that belonged to them, was beyond the red truck, across the way. It was a normal, everyday truck, with their luggage packed in the bed.
The woman laughed, and the gentleman began to talk, explaining that they were on their way to Mexico on vacation.
As the conversation between our tables bounced back and forth, it turns out that the man at the other table was a lot like me. He about jumped up when I said that I am a writer that works construction until the day I make enough money as a writer.
He is a construction worker as well, writing at night, leaving his wife alone as his hands dance on the keyboard.
We exchanged information, and vowed to stay in touch.
As we left the cafe, my wife said to me, "And to think you didn't want to come with me this morning."
"Yeah," I said.
She added, "The Lord works in mysterious ways."
"Yes," I agreed, "He does."