Posted by: pendrops | December 4, 2006

peppermint bark


As I entered the shop at the mall and was greeted by the man in the wheelchair, I told myself not to stare, at least not at the shriveled shells of his legs, bent awkwardly and motionless. And don’t gawk at his hands, I demanded, as I noticed the random markings of un-pigmented skin splattering his otherwise tan hands.

He extended glistening tongs with a piece of glorified white chocolate and I extended a smile.

“Would you like to try some of our Peppermint Bark?” he asked.

“Thank you.” I took a bite. “Oh, my stars, that’s good! Where can I get that?”

The man, dressed in loose black dress pants, a white collared shirt, and a black buttoned-up vest, smiled and sat a bit taller in his chair. Pointing with the tongs, he said, “Right here, ma’am. And if you buy two tins of our Peppermint Bark, you get them for just $39.”

“Is that right?” I said, noticing his blue eyes behind the wire rim glasses. “Thank you so much.”

For the first five minutes I was in the store, I didn’t see anything. My eyes, my mind, my heart were still with the greeter, as he reached his deformed hand up to offer overpriced sugar to the bee-lining masses. When my soul finally caught up with my body, I was halfway around the perimeter of the shop, staring at a shelf of cake mixes, holding two tins of peppermint bark.

I wanted to buy it so the store would see what a wonderful job this man was doing. That it didn’t matter that he was in a wheelchair or that he had strange marks on his hands. That I was one satisfied customer and it was all because of this fantastic greeter.

You don’t have $39 to spend on chocolate, I thought as I finished making my way past the ornate bundt pans and posh food processors. So I set my items down and decided to smile at the greeter as I left. Smiles are free, after all. But he was gone. And my hands were empty.


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