Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Magical Moment 584, "Conversation with Willie"

I opened the glass door of the retail store and walked inside, eyes immediately drawn to the mannequins donning outfits I could never pull off. Yet I couldn't keep my fingers from running over the fabrics displayed on racks that were laid out, row after row around me. Months of penny pinching and shopping-deprivation made me like a hungry child in a bakery. My arms were full of clothes in mere moments.

A sales clerk politely offered her assistance and asked my name. 
"Elizabeth," I told her.
"I'm Willie," She replied with a slight southern accent, cheerfully as if we were about to become best friends. She was an older black woman who I noticed was just as attentive to all the customers in her section. Animated and friendly, Willie drew my complete attention as she continued, "Elizabeth, I can remember that. That's my sister's middle name. Her first name is Mary," she explained.
Before I could help it, I told her that my first name was actually Mary as well. She was taken aback, as pleased as if I just handed her the winning lottery ticket.
"You don't say! Your birthday's not February 13th is it?" She asked, her voice full of hope.
"No, but that happens to be my father's birthday," I offered, trying to match her enthusiasm but failing.
It was almost too much for her to bear, "What are the chances? Can you believe that?!"

In a matter of minutes, I learned about Willie's sister, how they grew up together, and where she's living now. I patiently listened with a smile. Willie tapped her co-worker on the shoulder, introducing me as if I were a celebrity, and proceeded to explain the entire story once again from the beginning. Her co-worker didn't find it quite so interesting and quickly moved on.

When it came time to check out, I handed her a pile of clothes over the counter but held back a few shirts, unsure of whether or not to purchase them. 
"Oh these are all great," Willie coaxed. "Just go ahead, you deserve it."
I laughed and gave an explanation, "It's just that my husband might flip out a little."
It was here Willie stopped sorting hangers and looked at me square in the eye, suddenly switching from her exuberant demeanor into something more serious and intense, "Honey, the best piece of advice I ever got was from my daddy. He was a minister."
I was intrigued and leaned in closer.
"He told me, 'Baby, your husband don't gotta know everything!'
I laughed out loud as she continued.
"My husband was a jealous man and he would get so angry when I told him someone made a pass at me. 'Course, I was fly back then."
I now looked around the room to see who else might be listening that I could share a snicker with. But there was no one. The thought of a hidden camera game show even entered my mind at this point. Willie repeated several more times that she was "fly" back then, making me wonder if she was waiting for me to offer a, "You still are!"

We revisited her sister's name a few more times, exploring the possibility of other similarities between us 2 strangers cosmically connected in the universe by first and middle name. We discussed maiden names, husband's names, even shoe size came up - but no more links existed.

I spent far more time in the store than planned, not shopping, but captivated as the one-person audience of Willie's dynamic personality.  I left wondering what Willie's sales record was. And I couldn't bear to dishonor her daddy's best advice ever, so I kept all the clothes. 



24 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

priceless!!! don't you know her co-workers go home exhausted each day!

Linda said...

People like Willie are refreshing. But I'm sure you didn't keep the purchases a secret from Eddie. :)

Deborah said...

I felt like I was there reading this ... I love Willie! Wonderful!! :o)

Steve Gravano said...

Beautiful, I sure Eddie knows you deserve to be spoiled every now and then!

Gary's third pottery blog said...

Hooo hoo!

Busy Bee Suz said...

Oh, this is great!!!! You are such a good sharer....with us and Willie.
I smiled all through this; cause, her Daddy was right!

Out on the prairie said...

What a nice encounter, a good tale to share.

Leonora said...

Elizabeth- thanks for visiting my blog! I originally found my way to yours via Suburban Soliloquy.
Your 'magical moments' are wonderful to read. I loved this random encounter with Willie : ) This sort of thing is what makes a mundane day stand out. (Well, that and clothes shopping.)

Jayne said...

Oh Elizabeth, this made me laugh. Everyone needs a Willie--especially when exercising guilty pleasures! And it's OK, not only is Willie right about not having to tell your husband everything, but if your husband is anything like mine, he won't even notice your new wardrobe. ;)

Great post!

Dave King said...

Coincidences can be magical. Yours is certainly intriguing for us - and I guess magical for you. Excellent post.

laughwithusblog said...

Loved reading about your interchange. People are so interesting. I'm glad you got home with a few new things! ;)

Rick said...

A great story well told, Elizabeth. I could hear Willie's voice throughout. And I learned a new expression too (although I'll likely not try it out here at the general store).

You can meet some interesting people just by being open a little.

Dawn said...

Oh I love this. Don't you so enjoy Magic Moments like this which draws us somehow "unexplainably" closer to another human on this earth?
I am GLAD you took that advice;D

Rob-bear said...

What a charming and delightful soul! Glad you met her. And, I'm sure, you spent lots of money with her.

Hilary said...

Willie is exactly the kind of person who finishes work at the end of the day, happy and rejuvenated, rather than tired and grumpy. She probably loves her job because she loves the people with whom she interacts on a daily basis. She also does wonders for her customers (and her customers' blog readers). What a gift, to be able to make someone's day brighter just by being oneself.

Leontien said...

haha i know when they do that! And you ALWAYS leave with more clothes than you want too! has absolutely nothing to do with the husband in question.

Im Sure Willy has good sales!
Leontien

That Janie Girl said...

Girl.

You are a saint.

And as to Willie - I think I like her! Wonder if she knew me when I was "fly"?? ;)

Kim @ Stuff could... said...

What a story to remember...Same name! It is nice to meet people like that

ds said...

Wonderful! What a lady--I could see her, the store, and you during this conversation. So well done, Elizabeth. Very much deserving of your POTW. Congratulations.

Willie gives good advice, yes?

Anyes said...

She really took the time to make you feel special and I am sure you'll remember Willie for a long time. Lovely :-)

TexWisGirl said...

congrats on your POTW!!! :)

LauraX said...

great story, thank you so much for sharing and congrats on POTW!

Birdie said...

I love meeting people like Willie! They are some fun people out there. Good for you on post of the week!

Jayne said...

Elizabeth- Back to say "Congratulations" on your POTW from Hilary! :-)