“I’m trying to guess which size I need without having to try them on,” I answered.
She, like me, was an older, roundish woman and after looking me up and down, she pronounced that I wasn’t as big as she was (a common fabrication of female solidarity). She told me what size would work and said that it was more economical to buy five pairs than two.
Then came the choice of colour; how many white, black, beige or grey.
“Oh, I just don’t care”, I said, sighing at the tedium.
“Whuh! Attitude!” the clerk corrected. “You have to care.”
I laughed at her command and remembered my bad teenage habit of retorting to my big brother, “I don’t care!”
He would joke back, “But somebody has to care.”
I took the clerk’s picks to the checkout. She followed me, apparently appraising my behind, and commented,
“Oh you’re much smaller than I am.” I snorted at the personal evaluation.
While she rang up the bill, I made conversation, telling her that I was buying clothes for a Texas wedding this summer.
I moaned, “Can you imagine the heat, Texas in July?”
A second of silence passed before we met each other's eyes and said together, “Attitude!”
Laughing again, I said, "You are so right about focussing on positive stuff. I think I need you to come home with me."
I left the store feeling sky-high.
I stopped into the clothing store on the off chance that my “Attitude" life-coach was working, but no.
Since I was wandering weirdly through the quiet store, hoping to recognize her but not knowing her name, I stopped to explain my behaviour to another worker. She tried to figure out who I meant and by the time I’d described my previous saleswoman’s friendly, joking personality, her colleague said,
"Oh, that must have been Jane. She’s the manager but she’s not here today.”
Jane's co-worker happily offered to hand on the mini thankyou note and was effusive about my small gesture.
From now on, when any negative thought tries to escape my lips, I think I'll hear Jane’s bold reminder, “Attitude!” And I'll smile at the memory.