Last night, I went to a nearby TJ Maxx with a very specific mission—earrings for my daughter. She’d lost hers a few weeks ago and the replacements my mother ordered haven’t arrived. I was worrying about the holes closing up so it was time to get some inexpensive replacements. When I got to the jewelry counter, the clerk was busy with a woman and her friend. Main Woman is really into a ring when I get there but I’m really trying to find the kid jewelry so I don’t really register much about what’s going on. It’s after I’ve found the kid jewelry and have had enough time to come to a conclusion about which ones I want to see and the clerk is still very busy, that I can’t help but sort of pay attention to what’s going on right next to me. I should mention, I did not choose where TJ Maxx stored their kid jewelry and that it was right next to this woman but in a way I’m grateful because otherwise, I wouldn’t have had this bizarre experience.
The woman decides she’s going to purchase the giant ring she’s looking at and says something along the lines of “Add it to the pile.” I’m relieved cause I can go now. Except, she’s not done. She drifts behind me to the counter next to me and says to the clerk, “Hold on, I’m making my rounds. I want to be sure I don’t miss anything.” And this is where things get uncomfortable. Friend had lagged behind the counter opposite Main Woman looking at some earrings. So Main Woman starts speaking quite loudly but I’m not sure who she’s talking to—the clerk, Friend, me, everyone around her? The following is a recap of what was said by Main Woman:
“I do this every time there’s a tragedy. I shop. I’m burying my husband and this won’t really do much but it’ll kill the pain for a few hours. I did it when my father died too. Went to Lane Bryant and bought hundreds of dollars of clothes I later returned because it was just too much.” The clerk engaged her a bit, but was too soft-spoken for me to pick up. The woman explained her husband had been in an accident and had been killed by a bus driver while he was “cycling for exercise”. On and on she went, very loudly pouring out all sorts of little details to Friend and Clerk. The husband died Friday. She had to go to the store to buy three new black dresses “one for the viewing, one for the funeral, and one for when we go to the islands.” She needed to get her hair done. She hadn’t been able to sleep since this had happened on Friday. She kept all of her jewelry in the vault because she was tired of being robbed. Her friend and her chuckled at some of the louder pieces in the cabinet and wondered who on earth would wear a giant spider pin. She said she’d lost her best friend and not just that, but her armored car. Finally, she was done. She bought Friend the pair of earrings she’d been drooling over the entire time. She dropped over $300 in cash and left.
Here is a basic rundown of what was going through my head during the above monologue:
“What?!” “Oh these are totally cute, how’d I miss these?” “Holy crap!” “Oh my god I’d kill you if I was the clerk.” “Oooh hoops!” “That doesn’t even make sense” “Really?” “Oh my gosh, little flowers!” “What!?” “Did she really just say that?” “What does that even mean?” “Aw these are so sparkly and pink” “This is crazy.” “I would totally wear that freaking awesome spider brooch.” “She’s crazy.” “Seriously, I just want to buy these tiny earrings and run away.” “But why are you buying jewelry for a vault?”
I have a confession to make. This came across incredibly contrived and heartless. As a matter of fact, I was so convinced this whole story she was spinning was fake, I looked it up. And there’s no news mention anywhere, not even in blogs dedicated to tracking these types of things, of this accident. There is a man who was struck by a runaway car while getting off a bus, but he was 91 years old and on his way to visit his wife in a nursing home. He’s also totally not dead. Pedestrian, and especially cycling, accidents have become a huge deal down here. We’re a really dangerous city to be on foot or bike in and every time there’s an accident involving one, especially one that ends in death and one involving a county vehicle, there’s tons of coverage. Not to mention, my father has recently taken up cycling as commuting and this was just bothering me that if she really was lying, she was being so casual about such a realistic tragedy. There were just so many things wrong with this experience! I just can’t imagine a woman losing her husband/best friend going out in public not even a week after his death. I can’t understand it. I can understand shopping to ease the pain, but not in a store, not so soon. Then again, why lie? Why make up this totally horrible story? I was completely baffled. Totally and completely baffled. Any insight? Anyone going to chide me on this? I feel so wrong and yet at the same time offended. Wrong because if she wasn’t lying, that totally sucks but offended because if she was lying—what the hell?