I walked up to the counter and waited for her to look at me.
“I just wanted to tell you something.” I said in a soft voice.
“You are smart.
You are beautiful.
You can work anywhere.”
She looked at me with tears in her eyes.
“You can do anything.” I told her with conviction. She wiped a tear from her cheek.
Then in a louder voice I said, “The pizza was really great.”
I directed the compliment to the older man who walked past.
This is what happened twenty minutes earlier:
I was eating pizza with my mom and kids in a lovely little town up north. I had found a groupon for the pizza joint on my phone and inquired about using it. She told me they didn’t accept those. Some big old guy with a foreign accent heard my question and got all worked up. “Where paper? Coupon must have paper! No! No accept.” he told me, obviously flustered. Then he turned to her and spoke rapidly, angrily. When he walked away, I touched her hand and apologized - I didn’t mean for my question to get her in trouble. That’s when I first noticed the tears. “It’s ok.” she whispered and motioned towards him as if she didn’t care.
I couldn’t stop thinking about her as I ate my food. Why was she treated like that? What if that was my teenage daughter working minimum wage and an older adult yelled at her for no reason? Would she have the confidence to leave and believe something better was out there? Did she know she deserves to be treated with respect, even as a cashier at a pizza shop?
I had to tell her. Just one more chance to speak to her.
You are smart.
You are beautiful.
You can work anywhere.
You can do anything.
Then I packed up the kids and walked away.
I don’t know her name. I will never see her again.
Maybe she needed to hear those words.
Or maybe she thinks I’m some crazy lady with loud kids.
It doesn’t matter. It was said.
Have you ever felt a strong need to tell a stranger something?
Did it feel good? Awkward? I’d love to hear any of your experiences….