Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Not So Bleak Midwinter

Last Saturday a sometimes freezing, drizzly rain that seemed as if it would never stop, settled over the city like a bad mood.

I had gone through a lot of agony on Monday worrying over how miserable Walker would be in and out of that miserable weather getting carts and helping little old ladies with their bags. I hoped that the bad weather would mean fewer customers and that he wouldn’t have to go out too often. I wondered if we should begin to think about finding him an inside job.

On the way to work, Walker voluntarily put some Vaseline Intensive Care that was in the cup holder on his hands. I was kind of surprised, because he had resisted mightily when I first began pushing it because I had noticed how chapped and leathery his hands were getting once the cold set in. His dad must have had some clout with him in creating a new habit, because the hand cream now seems to be a part of the routine of going to work.

When I picked Walker up after work, I asked how his day had been. “Not too bad.” (This is his stock answer most days, no matter how rotten.) As usual I asked what he had for lunch, just to make conversation. Previously, my question might have been answered, “Uh…you know the same thing I had last Tuesday,” leaving me frustrated trying to figure out what that might have been.

Yesterday, he answered promptly, “A fried chicken tender sandwich to warm my fingers up... What’s for dinner?”

“Some yummy turkey soup that Mrs. Jehl made for us.”

“Turkey Soup, I never heard of that? Gobble, Gobble!”

We rode a few more minutes and then he blurted out excitedly, “Oh, and I got a $5 tip today…from Dr. Soto Viera!”

The good doctor has known Walker since he was five weeks old, and has made it a point to let me know how proud he is of his accomplishments when I bump into him in the check out line occasionally. I’m glad he rewarded Walker for doing his job on a miserable day.

Today, it was fifty five degrees and sunny, and so were my spirits. I’ll bet Walker’s are too, even if the tips are smaller. Wonder what he had for lunch.


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