A Bag, A Man, A Card

To live well, we must see.

But some days, life demands listening, too.

Consider yesterday.

At the grocery store, I laid my blue recycled bag onto the short conveyor belt. Beneath the bag scooted a pair of soup jars, cornbread muffins and bananas, plus a bag of greens. Dinner.

I turned to my purse. On the phone, I tapped the grocery app then reached for my wallet. I heard a male voice and looked up.

The checkout person — millennial, I assumed — repeated his question, “you like books?”

I smiled.

Compadre! I love when this happens!

Love them actually.” I shook my head, wondering why he had asked me the question. He held up my bag, returned my smile.

My grin broadened. His friendly blue eyes returned kinship. On the conveyor belt, his hands slowed. Both palms now clutched the bag of greens as if they offered secret treasure. I looked to my left. A growing line behind me. Here we go.

I write books, too,” I said and, without pausing for his acknowledgment, volunteered, “My first novel, it’s in progress. Agents awaiting completion.”

Really?” his eyes alit with new interest. “What’s it about?”

My mind raced. What do I tell this reader about a book targeted at older women, female readers who’ve lived longer lives than his, many who’ve raised children and worked for older versions of himself? 

A brain flash. Elevator pitch then the blog. I sped-talked through my novel plot then soared to here, the RoadBroads blog. I was on the road here at the grocery store.

You might check out my blog.”

He cocked an eyebrow. My left hand clawed through my purse, scrounging for a RoadBroads business card. Holding one aloft like an envious prize, I elevator-pitched the blog.

(An explanation for non-writers: an elevator pitch equals a short summary of a story-in-progress. The concept riffs off the image of a writer and agent riding an elevator together, giving the former only a few quick floors to tell her entire novel to the latter.)

Mr. Checkout took my card and listened to my generous pitch. WIth kind eyes and matching generosity.

In our brief exchange, he taught me much.

When you listen, you see people, discover opportunity, and, sometimes, find a fellow reader.

Translation: listening builds Life.

Plus, we’re never too old to learn.

A day later, I wonder: did the grocery store exchange begin with my t‑shirt? Pardon the sloppy selfie but consider the sentiment.

Like listening, words matter, too. Now. More than Ever.