Mrs. S comes in with Bruises on her neck and Make-up smears rolling down her left cheek. She didn’t look at herself in the mirror before leaving her house. She asks for her daily pack of Marlborough lights and pays with a check like always. I throw her a smile ask her how she’s been. I can tell she’s lying when she explains “good, but tired.” As one of my nicest customers I have she jokes with me about one day winning the lottery and leaving her husband. Everyday, during the lag between the beep and the ever-annoying monotonic “sorry”, I pray her joke has a better punchline.
5:00. 30 degrees. The Salvation Army volunteer comes in and asks timidly to use the phone. I explain to her how to dial out and she replies with a story about her boyfriends phone. How it can do all kinds of crazy functions and that they spend their time together reading books and watching movies on it. No Answer. 6:00 She dials out again, she tells me how cold her hands are and that the person she is calling is her boyfriend so that he could bring her gloves. No Answer. 7:00 A lady comes in redeems $4.25 worth of bottle slips from me and asks if I have heard the Lady standing outside. I explain that I have talked to her and she seems very nice. She tells me that its not her talking voice I should listen to, it’s her singing voice. 8:00 I go to put away a cart near the entrance to the store and I hear Joy To The World coming from the sidewalk. She had a lovely voice, a little dry from the cold, but lovely nonetheless. 9:00 she comes in and makes another call. No Answer. She asks me if I can look up the Salvation Army number for her. She dials the number and quietly talks to the person on the other line while I help another customer. She starts getting louder saying, “I have a kid in daycare and now I have to spend more money to keep her there… I just want to get home to my kid.. You were supposed to be here an hour ago.” I assume she must have called her boyfriend while I wasn’t paying attention, but she didn’t. She was talking to the Salvation Army transportation who was an hour late in picking her up. She slams the phone down and I notice her hands as she storms out. No Gloves. 10:00 I get off my shift and stand outside looking around. Daycare money is clutched in my hand in my pocket. I wait for her to come back to where she was volunteering but was pretty sure she was gone as the stand was no longer there. 10:30 Home.
At the Service Desk you can see a lot of assholes, thieves, addicts, drunks, con artist and so on. But then there are those people who are really in trouble, and it’s the most heartbreaking thing.