It happened this morning. (*Ok, Saturday morning. I don’t actually write these bad boys the day they’re posted.)
Abby and I set sail (on the good ship Subaru) to West Hartford to pick up her new glasses. We got there, hopped out of the car and she turned on her typical stranger charm, making passers-by smile as we walked through the Center to the optical shop. The usual hi’s in the store – they know us well. I guess not many parents have had a need to bring both their kids there since infancy.
Fitted and ready to go. (Note: Abby was unimpressed with her new found visual clarity. Surprising, given her old glasses were so scratched I could barely tell when they were dirty)
We hopped across the street to the jewelry store. I propped my 5-year old up on the counter simply to prevent her from touching anything, attracting the two available saleswomen like magnets. I explained I was just there to get a necklace fixed. Expecting them to be disappointed to not make a sale, I found myself surprised for the second time today as they happily explained I’d just need to see the counter in the back.
Then they followed me back there. Then they offered Abs a lollipop. Then they’d decided the 30 seconds I’d been waiting was too long. One fixed my necklace herself while the other took Abby to see the music boxes. Free candy, free entertainment and free (not to mention eager) kid supervision in a store full of priceless valuables for 10 minutes… when I was only spending $10? Not bad. High five for the kid on our way out. The almond eyes get ’em every time.
Back into the car up 91, I determined today would be the perfect one to browse my favorite Target. The one in Windsor.
It’s like a secret (because it’s consistently clean and friendly) Target in plain sight that most people don’t know about… because who goes to Windsor when they don’t live in Windsor? (I’ll tell you who – people like me who used to live in Windsor. A mile away from Secret Target.) I used to frequent this store often. In fact, it was the first public place I took newborn Abby to. It’s got a special place in my heart. (And my wallet.) Don’t tell anybody about it.
Abby hopped out of the car with a “MOMMY, LETS RUN!” I obliged. At 5 years old, Abby’s run is more like an 18-month old’s. I say that because my 2-year old could lap her easy. Works out well for me. Additional gushing by random strangers as we went through the store. Got our stuff and worked our way through the registers and back outside.
As we were out there, we saw the girl rounding up the carts. If you’ve ever been to this Target, you know the girl I’m talking about. I believe she’s got some sort of disability. She’s out there rounding up the carts in any temperature – in the January snow and August heatwaves. Always smiling.
In fact, I saw her that first time I brought Abby as a newborn. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t get a pang in my stomach that day. Was this my girl’s future? Would she be out here pushing carts, day in and day out? Is that any kind of life? I know I held back tears.
Fast forward to today.
Abby, 5 (and a half) years old, stood in awe watching this girl round up the carts on the magical cart-mover thing. The girl waved her over. I asked, “Can we watch how you get the carts together?” She says, “Sure!” Abby’s enthralled.
“Want to see how it works? Come with me.”
She takes Abby to the end and shows her the remote control. “Here, hold this and put your thumb right on this button.” Abs has a little trouble. “It’s okay. Here – you put your thumb on my thumb.” The carts start to move and they walk them all the way back into the store.
What I didn’t realize that day back in 2010, but have come to know in the time since is this: That girl is the hardest working employee at Secret Target. She clearly loves and takes pride in her job and likely also her life. She’s not sad.
I wish the me of today could’ve gone back to the me of 2010 and shown her this picture.
It’s a wonderful life.