short sticks…

She got the job nobody wantsassisting all the tried-on clothes from the fitting room as they spawn to hangars then back to headwater racks on the floor of a Target deemed Super. No one was trying on clothes at 9pm on a Thursday except my daughter so as I waited for her I watched this lady who’d obviously drawn the short stick and I wondered if she was well acquainted with sticks of that lengthShe sighed a hundred sighs but spoke aloud once inviting me into her labor with a tired laugh: boy, people sure make a mess. She was not pushing a red wheelbarrow but I did think in that moment that so much also depends on red Target carts laden with messes that boy, people sure can make. As she pushed past me with her load I said thank you, and the lady who got the job nobody wants looked at me as if I had spoken in Vulcan or Cantonese or some speech used by a tribe hidden deep in the bush. It was like she had no context for this simple coupling of words; I might as well have said white chickens. She went on about her duty and I stood beside a display of two ladies in capris looking seductively at me and thought we the people are quite social these days but I fear we are missing the mark for we are not kind, and in a world that was and is and always will be built of short sticks so much depends upon daily kindness for without it we are little more than sheep or goats or salmon who spend themselves against the current only to finally die in the shallows. My daughter found what she was looking for, we exited automatic doors, and before bending to get in the car she said thank you for taking me to Target. As we drove away I felt my cheek glazed with rain. 


Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,067 other subscribers


  1. Developing A New Image on May 25, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Ah, it makes me want to know more of her story, but I am that way with all that I pass on to road that goes nowhere, but it sure is crowded. We all in a hurry to get to a where no one knows…..shalom en theos….jim

    • thebeautifuldue on May 25, 2012 at 9:30 pm

      Thanks, Jim…I’d like to have known more of her story too.

  2. Tim Bergren on May 25, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    I had a Kenyan friend tell me one time, “Americans have lost the ability to blush.” I think we’re taking it to another level: we’re losing the ability to love. Love is shrewd. It gives away the long sticks…Or should I have said, “Love ‘white chickens’ the long sticks?” Thanks for the reminder of where we are.

    • thebeautifuldue on May 25, 2012 at 9:32 pm

      Tim, I’ve been a blusher since I was born…I just can’t shake it.

  3. pastordt on May 25, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    I have often thought of that thankless task when I try on clothes. Thank you for noticing, for saying thank you, even if she could not hear it. It’s the saying it that will open ears, and maybe hearts.

    • thebeautifuldue on May 25, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      Diana, it is a thankless task, isn’t it…there are many such short stick jobs in this life.

  4. Lyla Lindquist on May 25, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    What’s Vulcan for thank you, John? Because I’d sure like to say it right now. 🙂

    • thebeautifuldue on May 25, 2012 at 9:42 pm

      Lyla, in Vulcan its ‘nemaiyo’…that sounds weird, huh?

  5. HisFireFly on May 25, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Thank you for your “thank you” in a world when most would not even have seen her. Even if the words seemed unreceived youwere speaking from the heart of God.

    • thebeautifuldue on May 25, 2012 at 9:45 pm

      Thank you for your comment…I’d love to say that’s par for my course, but I am often the one who overlooks, distracted by the ten thousand things…

  6. charitysingleton on May 26, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    I love that you have captured the story of a stranger right from where you are. I’ve been trying to do that more, see things through others’ eyes. I really love this, John.

  7. Jody Collins on May 27, 2012 at 1:11 am

    John, I ‘found’ you via my recent acquaintaince of Lyla L. Wow. This was beautiful.
    I noticed on your Facebook page you posted a video clip of Judy Collins singing send in the clowns…now, there’s a song.
    hence, I’m an instant fan.

    I look forward to reading more of the ‘beautiful due.’

    • thebeautifuldue on May 27, 2012 at 1:40 pm

      Thank you, Jody…good to meet you, and thanks for taking the time to comment.

Leave a Comment