The live band outside was booming for just a second as the door opened and closed. I looked up from watering the plants. It was the other noise that attracted my attention. I could hear the rhythmic thump of a can on the grainery floor. Two older gentlemen came down the wooden boardwalk and stepped into the grinding room where the plants, garden statuary, and home décor was in abundance.
I greeted them with a smile and they smiled back and started asking about the history of the building. We chatted for some time and as more people entered the shop, they scurried on their way to look around at the sale items.
Time passed and I had gotten busy at the register. The old man came slowly up to the antique display counter and put the sign up on the top for me to acknowledge his intent to purchase it.
"Did you find yourself a keeper there?" I asked him. His friend smiled at me. The old man looked up at me and patted the wooden sign. "I have to have this, " he said. I told him it was one of my favorites in the store and he had very good taste. "It's more than that to me, " he said, "It's for my daughter. She is going to get this as a gift. I would tell you the story as to why, but then I would cry and make myself a fool."
I told him no one in my shop was a fool, but I respected his choice not to tell him. He put the money on the counter and while I was getting his change, he told me the story...and he spoke much more and was so mesmerizing that I can't capture it here. Here is the jist of what he said...
"Mam, I will probably cry and I am sorry for that, coming from an old fool. My daughter lost her childhood friend when she was 10 and it was a tragedy that haunts her memory to this day. When they were kids they would laugh and laugh and bid each other ado with, 'see you later alligator' at the end of each day. This sign has 'see you later alligator' on it. See? Right here. And it's about good bye to your friends."
The old man took 20 minutes to tell that story because while he cried and spoke, the tears were running down my face. Pretty soon all the customers had gathered round to listen. They all wiped tears when he was finished.
ME: Thank you for sharing that story. You really made my day. And your daughter is going to appreciate it and she has a wonderful father.
He and his friend wiped their tears, and tipped their hats to me and left, sign in tow. We all watched them exit out the door and when the jingle was heard, you could hear a pin drop in the old elevator.
See...I get these special moments and then I know I am at the right place in my life because I am supposed to be here.