I had a moment in Target the other day.
Just one of those weird little moments where the universe reaches out and reminds you to get off your high horse and slow down, breathe, and be a tolerable human.
You ever get those?
Last Friday, one of our cats went missing.
I’d been a hot mess. As I should be. It put me on edge and drowning in worry and being frustrated that it was one of those “out of my hands” situations. I had all the worst thoughts (I’ve watched a lot of serial killer beginnings type shows, mmkay?) and it was eating me alive that all I could do was obsessively notify everyone on this half of the planet to be sure if they found him, they’d know to call me — but that I had zero control over whether someone WOULD find him or that zero harm had befallen him.
So my daily mission was endless flyers, endless emails to postings and shelters and rescues and vets, and endless papering of neighborhoods.
I was on such a mission on Monday. All I wanted in the world was to get home so we could assemble giant, laminated, BRING HIM HOME yard signs and then plaster the entire neighborhood with them. But I needed to get gas first. And then I needed to go to Target because we were out of tape for more signs. And I left work behind schedule.
Target was PACKED. My frustration rose. I popped into the only feasible line, the 10 Items or Less lane. There was only a mom and her teenage son in front of me and they were being handed their receipt. I WAS IN LUCK.
Except the cashier, a kid in his mid-20s whose lines I have avoided whenever possible because he will talk to each person for six hours and you will literally stand there for 5-10 minutes after someone gets their receipt, waiting for him to shut up long enough so that they can leave and you can buy your tampons and GTFO.
So he’s asking the kid about his big college plans and the kid is answering, and they’re yammering on, and it’s all I can do to not tap my foot and roll my eyes and sigh loudly and BE THAT PERSON that I never am. I am usually an angel. But CAN YOU HURRY THIS UP BECAUSE OMG MY CAT IS OUT IN THE BIG WORLD WITHOUT ME AND I HAVE SIGNS TO MAKE AND NO ONE CARES. When I hear the cashier say he’ll be moving to another city to attend classes at this one college, because they offer the “best classes for my autism.”
PUNCH to the Be-A-Human-Face.
So this kid, in all his awkward social glory and over-chatting weirdness, is autistic. And, likely, these elongated sort of one-sided weird interactions he has with people and all his stuttering stem from that.
And then I felt like an asshole. And my entire mood shifted to grateful, pleasant, understanding. Just this weird physical lightness and a mental reminder that we’re all human, we all talk too much, and that even without the autism, we should all just calm down a bit and let the little stuff slide.
So I put my stuff on the belt and he grins. I grin. And he goes, “How, how, how is your (makes lengthening motions with his hands and I have no idea where he is going with this), your TALL husband?”
Well knock me over.
He REMEMBERS me. AND Sean. Taken aback, I said Sean was good, and he grinned and nodded and followed it with, “I haven’t seen you guys in FOREVER!”
He rang up my tape, and we talked about his anxiety about his upcoming move to the college 4 hours away – it’s his first time away from home and his uncertainty was palatable — and I hoped the lady behind us would let it slide as well.
And then I told him he’d BE FINE, and wished him luck, and headed home feeling just a little bit better about everything.
(And in case you’re wondering, Runaway Cat is now home and grounded for life!)