He asked me on my lunch break. He asked me what colour and where to find them. He asked me, "6 or twelve?" I told him he wasn't obligated. I told him, "One," knowing it would do no good. 6 of them were in the bouquet he brought me. This was a first for me. Red, pink, and white.
3 o'clock was his scheduled time of arrival, yet by 1:30 I was already eagerly glancing out the window to see if he was there. An overjoyed, overexcited smile was glued on my face for an hour and a half while random giggles escaped my already eager lips.
“Hello there, what can I get for you?” I asked a customer, beaming.
“I think I’ll take a carrot cake, please.”
“Excellent choice,” I exclaimed. I rushed over to the deli case with a small brown paper bag in one hand, tongs at the ready in the other. I stuck the closed tongs inside the bag and opened them inside of it so it would allow room for the thick; pineapple, raisin, shredded carrot and walnut-filled; cream cheese icing-covered cake. I bounced back over to the till.
“Is there anything else I can get for you today?”
“Nope, just the cake, thanks.”
“Oki doki! Then that’ll be $3.00, please.” He handed me a five and I gave him a toonie. “Thank-you very much!”
“Thank-you,” he replied.
“Have a great day!”
Another customer came in. She looked at me as she walked in and that’s how I knew she came knowing what she wanted. You can always tell when someone is new to the place if they wander through the room, looking up at the menu board, then looking down at the floor to make sure they don’t bump into chairs or step on any children or old people, mouths hanging open, hands scratching and grabbing at their empty, growling bellies, saliva dripping down the sides of their mouth, and their eyes open wide, seeking something to satisfy their deep-felt hunger or sweet temptations as they browse the delicious offerings in the deli case and mumble to themselves the words on the board.
“What can I get for you?” I asked the woman who knew what she wanted.
“A medium coffee to go, please.”
“Anything else for you today?” I got her a cup.
“No, that’s it.”
“Okay, that’ll be $2.00 please! And you know you can come back with your cup any time today and get a free refill!”
She gave me what she owed, took her cup, and filled it with drip coffee, cream and sugar. Just as she was leaving the cafe/bistro, with an exceedingly “teethy” smile that must have lasted a good ten minutes after this happened, I wished her a wonderful day! A wonderful day.
I don’t think I’d ever been so friendly in my life.
It was nearing closing time and I was putting away and sealing food, just as I usually do at that time on a Saturday. Only this time I was persistently smiling, half-dancing to the soft rock playing (which I was beginning to detest around the 8th time it played,) and skipping around the kitchen, rather than walking my usual hurried walk. I have to admit, I was multi-tasking quite well. I was not forgetting things or giving customers the wrong drink even though I was constantly looking outside to see if he was there.
Had there just been a small, though definite movement outside? It could be him! I looked out the window. He wasn’t there.
Zero movement, though the possibility of his appearance any second? I’d better check to see! He was still not there... but before I knew it, he walked inside.
And if I had not already surpassed the amount of red-cheekedness allowed for the day, nor already abused my daily limit of maximum smiles, I surely must have when I saw him come in, backpack over shoulder and a bouquet of beautiful flowers in hand.
I wanted to take them and go home with him where we’d be First Mate Oris and Captain Tentacles for the rest of the afternoon.
In the end, that boy travelled from Langley to the ferry in Tsawassen, arrived in Victoria’s Swartz Bay ferry terminal, took a bus for another hour, maybe more, until he got downtown from where he proceeded to walk up the hill towards my workplace, purchased flowers – white, pink, and red, and patiently waited for me to end my shift. We walked home together, all 8 of us. 6 roses, me, and him.