Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hello My Name is Betty

Betty is not her real name. She is in her mid-fifties or early sixties. Her mostly gray hair is sprinkled with black, shades of her youth. No evidence of a visit to any of the salons that dot our community. Her wire-rimmed glasses rest on her nose. No make-up for Betty.

I first encountered Betty on a Saturday morning, picking up my newspaper at a local WaWa (regional version of 7-Eleven). She mustered a smile as the transaction was completed quickly due to the line.

Around noon, I stopped in my local Whole Foods to pick up my groceries. I get to the checkout and there was Betty, sporting the Whole Foods Green apron. She worked efficiently, and asked the mandatory question "Did you find everything you were looking for?"Not waiting for my answer, Betty looked through me as she rung up my order.

After hanging out with some friends, the time is about 11pm, I needed to stop at the Rite-Aid before calling it a night. I grab what I need and head to the checkout. Due to the hour, no one is in sight. The sign at the counter reads "Really, its OK to the ring the bell."

So, I give the bell a ring. Out from aisle four, here comes Betty.

I'm sure I could not hide my surprise. For the first time, we really looked at each other. 

Betty apologized for keeping me waiting. What I felt was sadness, not annoyance.

My God, I wondered, how many jobs does this woman have and why? Was she a first wife? Was she taking care of sick relative? Insurance? Survival? What is her story?

At her age, I'm sure she is not working at these places for the love of the work.

Upon completing the dialogue in my head and the transaction, I looked at Betty and said,"Thank you Betty, have a good night."

She smiled wearily and returned to her duties.

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