In the window of my favorite thrift store are a row of amazing, brightly-colored papier-mache lamps. I admire them every time I visit and have always wanted to buy this neat turquoise one but I’ve always thought they were just for display. Today I stood in line behind a chubby, black kid of about ten or eleven who could have just as easily been a boy or a girl and this kid was holding the turquoise lamp and a wrinkled dollar bill.
A stooped old woman, wrinkled as a raisin, was complaining to the cashier that there used to be a vase that matched the sugar and creamer set she was buying and she wanted to know where it had gone.
“There’s a purple one over there that would match,” the kid said, helpfully and pointed. I decided that she was a girl.
Everyone ignored her.
“That’s a cool thing you’ve got there,” I said, nodding at the lamp.
She looked proud. “There are a bunch of other ones in the window, did you see them?”
I told her that I had. The grouchy old woman finally left and it was the little girl’s turn to make her purchase. She pushed the crinkled dollar bill across the counter and the cashier eyed the price tag under the lamp.
“Did you know that this was $7.50?”
The little girl looked dismayed and shook her head. She took back the lamp and the dollar bill and walked away. The cashier told me my total would be $22.50. I pushed an extra $7.50 across the counter. “I’ll pay for her lamp, too.”
The cashier took my money and eyed me curiously. “Do you know her?”
I shook my head. “She just seems like a nice kid.”
As I walked out the door, I tapped the little girl on the shoulder. “You can go ahead and take that lamp, it’s paid for.” I started to walk away.
I shrugged. “I don’t know, I just thought you picked out something cool.”
It’s funny how I’m only nice to people that I don’t know.