The lab tech leaned in close as the clamour in the next stall (cries of laughter, joy, and pure, unadulterated mischief raised above the level of what very well could be deemed acceptable patter in the workplace), as the commotion behind the screen reached what I later realized was its absolute pitch (for a while, it seemed that the chatter and babble were on-going, a constant feature of the place itself).
In a most conspiratorial fashion, the tech, an older lady with a severe expression and total poise, told me that the employees there needed to act more professionally while at work. She went on about other Things, Things that were seen but noticed.
“It’s not right, all this, is it?” She leaned back and nodded, confident in the unspoken knowledge that I understood.
“Can you believe it?” whispered the cashier, ostensibly meaning the person who had been in front of me in the line, who had tried to pay with a store credit card from a different store. “This world, I tell you.” She went on, a tall, statuesque woman with kind eyes. She took her time, telling me about the state of things, what was happening. Her held her tongue as a manager walked pass, then continued. “You know,” she said.
“No, no, sweetheart. Not that one,” came the gentle admonishment from the woman behind me. “Put it back. It’s no good, it’s no good.” Her clothes were careworn, her face open and friendly as she spoke. She told me more, slowly, carefully so that I would not lose a word of what she said as we stood there in the open-air market. The smile dropped from her face as she left, neutralizing her once more, giving her cover as she moved back into the milling crowd.
Every time, though never when I expect it: they lean in close, but not too close, and tell me Things that need saying, that are not to be trifled with, or ignored.
Maybe I just have that face.
Same as theirs, but different.
You know what I’m saying? Don’t you.