Many months ago, I walked into a store and met Bob and my life has not been the same ever since. Thanks to Bob, I find myself looking at life these days through a pair of slow-motion spectacles where all frantic movements have trickled down to mere frame-by-frame motion sequences.
Bob was one of the two sales people in that store that day. He had a sweet smile and kind eyes so naturally I picked him over the other salesman. Wearing an answering smile myself, I walked towards Bob and asked to see a few products in the store. What followed was the longest 2 hours of my life.
It is important to mention here that I dragged my kids in to that store with me after assuring them that I will get them both an ice cream cone as soon as we got out of there. ‘Just a few minutes’ I promised my kids. I didn’t know that Fate was holding its jiggling tummy and laughing at me right at that moment.
Watching Bob go to work was a revelation. I learned that Bob did not believe in rushing things. Have you ever watched words take a slow tumble out of someone’s mouth, letter by letter? I did. I almost cupped my hands in front of his mouth at one point to catch those precious words but luckily caught myself in time.
Our conversation mirrored a chess game between a chess master and an amateur. My mouth opened, hurled out the words and shut itself while Bob had to think deep and hard before he would allow a word to form in his mind. I felt tears of joy burning at the back of my eyes every time we were treated to a full sentence. My daughters had to pinch my sides to keep those tears under check. It has been many months now but the fading pinch marks in my side still brings dear Bob to my mind.
In my heart, I know Bob meant to show us the products before Sun went down the horizon that day. I have to believe that. He had no meanness in him, you see but seconds stretched to an hour as Bob walked between the stock room and the sales desk. He had such gentle movements. It was like watching a swan gracefully sway through the room. The carpet heaved a sigh of relief beneath his shoes each time Bob glided over its surface. Why, you ask? He left not a single shoe mark, that’s why.
After the 8th trip back from the stock room, Bob seemed a bit tired. Sure, who won’t? I wished the other salesman would bring Bob a glass of water to drink. After all, he hadn’t moved an inch in the last hour. Standing in the same place and chatting easily with the 10 or more customers I had seen come in to the store in that hour. It just didn’t seem fair. Sure, he sold stuff to those 10 people, but hah, big deal! .
Glaring at his colleague for his lack of compassion, I suggested to Bob that he take a break to rest his legs for a while before resuming his 9th trip trying to bring us the product we actually wanted and not the ones that he could find. He looked at me with such gratitude.
As the clock ticked by and crossed 90 minutes, Bob managed to walk out at last holding what I was looking for. If it weren’t for my creaking knees, I would have leapt over the sales desk and kissed him in sheer happiness. Instead I broke out the 10,000 watts smile that I usually save up just for my husband. Waking up from their naps in the corner sofa, my kids were now looking hopefully at me. I smiled at them reassuringly and whipped out my wallet to close the sale and be on my way out. Not so fast, said Bob.
Apparently computers puzzled Bob. It was really sweet the way he looked at the tip of his pointer finger carefully each time he used it to push in a key on the keyboard. After each push, he would gently lift his eyes to the screen and smile as he saw his hard work translated on the screen. The whole thing was nothing short of a well-choreographed waltz. There was a rhythm and a beauty to it. He was gentle with those keys. Every now and then, the fingers will hang suspended in air while he would look confused at the computer screen. Fearing the wrath of my daughters who were drilling holes in my back, I decided to step in and move things along. Gently, I scooted over to the other side, peeked at the computer and walked Bob through the steps of running my credit card and closing the sale. The sheer joy on his face at the end was well worth the wait, I thought. My daughters somehow didn’t think so.
Aren’t you happy you met Bob today? :-)