Cotton Boy doesn’t know her name, nor does she want to reveal hers to me. I despised her the first time I met her; I dislike her the second time I served her; I reacted nonchalantly the third time when she snapped at me. Yesterday she came to the drugstore again with her guide dog, usually around the same time, 5 p.m. She repeatedly threw demands at me with a harsh and blunt coarse voice, “Double the bags, young man!” I gazed at her sympathetically this time and pondered, “Doesn’t she have any families or relatives to help her conduct some daily shopping errand?” Of course, I didn’t inquire, but hurried to place the merchandises into several bags. I, then, doubled each bag to assure that she wouldn’t drop any goods out of these frail plastic bags on the way home during this frigid gloomy night. I showed my concern, “It is slippery outside after the snow. Be careful. Have a good night.” As usual, she didn’t reply with the common phrase, “Thank you!”, or even give me a glance. She ambled out of the store entrance and continued her lonely walk. I don’t know where she lives. Yet, I know she will be back very soon!
I recalled her first appearance about a month ago. I was busy scanning the items, bagging the produce and collecting customers’ money. Then, she came in the store with a brownish Labrador guide dog sticking its tongue out as if he was exhausted or thirsty by walking too much. She has a big head, huge boots and a humongous butt, wearing a pair of fist-size thick-rimmed glasses with a confined sour look. I placed small items and a pack of potato chips nicely in a bag; I separated the half gallon milk into another sack. Before I claimed how much the total was, she slanted her eyes at me through the super-thick glasses and shouted, “Pack this and that together and double all the bags!” I was confused and withdrew all the items back to the counter. “I am sorry. Can you repeat how you like your things to be packed?” I discontented and continued, “You should have notified me before everything had been bagged.” She ignored me. I re-packed them into four separated bags which were doubled. She was grumpy and muttered some curse words which I couldn’t recognize the meaning, but I heard, “Double the bags, young man!” I handed her the merchandise. The dog led the way solemnly; they both disappeared admist the dark. I sighed, “People here misuse and overuse plastic bags. If she were in Hong Kong, she would have to pay almost 10 cents per plastic bag. If she were charged 80 cents, she definitely wouldn’t abuse using many bags.”
Several days later, she appeared at the cash register and was ready to check her produce out. I greeted her, but expectedly, she did not greet back or either her statue dog. She howled, “Double the bags, young man!” “Okay, okay! They are all double!” I made a sharp reply. She stared at me; I stared at her back. Through the thick lens of her glasses, her eye balls emerged blurry and fuzzy. Her mouth shivered, but she didn’t say a word, picked up her stuff and exited through the door.
A week ago, while she was wobbling her butt, she knocked off some goods from the shelf without placing them back. I followed her, gathered the fallen pieces and located them back to the right spots. I wondered if this was her intent to make a mess or in fact, she couldn’t focus or see things clearly. She collected what she wanted and reached the cash register area. Before she unclipped her mouth, I stated, “Okay, okay. I will double all bags.” She looked dismal and commented the following, “I can’t see well. I don’t want my goods falling out of the bags while walking home.” I nodded. She left.
Next time when I see her, I should ask her some caring questions. Perhaps, she will thaw her hardened heart and tell me where she lives and what her dog’s name is.
Cotton Boy wants to be her friend!