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Somebody Is Watching You: Part II

When I am rehabbing houses, my shopping involves hitting all the fine emporiums, such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, Surplus Warehouse, Sherwin-Williams and even the dollar stores. I have purchased enough paint, just from the Spring to now, to paint a foot-wide line that would go from New Jersey to Salt Lake City, Utah. So ,they know me in Sherwin-Williams, but not by name. I am sure I am memorable, if for no other reason, then the incident where one of their customer/friends took off, mistakenly, with my keys.

The folks in Surplus Warehouse love to greet me by name when I walk in. You’d think I was a celebrity! I am not one of their bigger customers as I mostly purchase laminate and tile for flooring from them, but we always have a great repartee. One of the men takes joy in reminding me about the time I locked my keys in the car and had to wait for Triple AAA. (There seems to be some evil karma involving  my keys.)

That said, most of the time and in most of the places, I am anonymous when I shop. Or, at least I thought I was. But there are always people watching.

Recently, when I was checking out of Home Depot with some small purchases, and brooding about a broken boiler in one of the properties I manage, the clerk said, “Is everything okay? You always look so happy and today you are not smiling.” If you had asked me if I ever saw her before, I would have said “no”. Yet, this woman remembered me, and remembered me as cheerful and friendly. I really felt like I had let that clerk down by not being a bright spot in her day on that occasion.

Generally I try to treat people with respect and appreciate what they do for me. I strongly believe in that old, worn out saying “what goes around comes around.”

Year ago, I had a small monthly newspaper (a good news newspaper in New Jersey), and was calling on an advertiser. On that particular day, he  was nasty to one of his workers. I said to him, “You just made that guy feel badly, and now he will take it out on someone else, maybe one of your customers.” He looked at me quizzically and asked, “You really think so?”

I asked him to think about the last time his wife was nasty to him and how that affected how he treated the next person. “Nouf said,” as they say.

Any way, yesterday I was in the dollar store looking for some wire for hanging pictures. After exhausting my patience and not finding it, I approached a woman restocking the shelves. She stopped what she was doing and walked me over to point out what should have been already obvious. I looked her in the eye and smilingly thanked her for helping me.

She was ready to walk away, but then said, “You don’t remember me (she was right), but you showed me a house and my circumstances changed and I was not able to rent it from you.”

My husband always says that he would not want to be in a police lineup with me choosing the criminal because I don’t look for details. I guess he is right but I have no recollection of ever having seen that woman but I was so happy that I treated her with respect since she “knew” me.

There is no hiding. Someone is always watching. For me, I try to remember that it is the Almighty. That usually keeps me on my toes.


This painting is now framed and hanging on the walls at Amma’s Kitchen in the Roselawn neighborhood of Cincinnati