Some of you may recall that sometime ago I wrote about an unusual night at work that involved a particularly unhappy stranger in the post She’s Alive!
Since then I had seen her a couple of times out and about, because as it turned out we lived in the same part of the city. But she tended not to recognise me and I thought it best just to leave her to it as she had considered our first encounter an embarrassing moment in her life. So she has remained a stranger to me. This is not unexpected and I was happy to continue on my life just knowing she hadn’t succeeded in her attempted suicide.
A few days ago, as i usual for me, I was working another night shift. I had a lot of sorting to do so had spent a lot of the time in the warehouse (Actually working that night, not just hiding). This meant I hadn’t been on the shop floor all that much. But as luck would have it the tannoy system requested my assistance at customer services just as I stepped onto the shop floor (I would not have heard it in the warehouse). I sighed and grumbled to myself a little bit because usually when this happens it’s some infuriating person who is umming and arring at one o’ clock in the morning about whether to buy sale item and I have to run around the shop like I’m on Dale’s Supermarket Sweep just to keep the customer happy. Nevertheless I did the responsible employee thing and did not just turn around and head back into the warehouse to pretend it never happened.
I quick stepped across the shop to the customer services desk and was greeted by a couple of ladies. I put on my big customer ready smile and asked how I could help. They did not greet me with smiles, this isn’t unusual though because customers that call me down at one in the morning are usually grumpy dicks so I didn’t think anything of it. The colleague who had put the call out for me then asked if I remembered the girl I found in my department, and she gestured a pretty low height. This confused me because I do not remember finding any girls in the shop, if I had I would obviously have helped them but I hadn’t. But then something about the way on of those ladies looked at me made me realise they were talking about my suicidal stranger. Well of course I remembered her, still remember her name, her daughters name, what kind of lager she was drinking, what items she bought that night, which medical centre she goes to. I remember her.
Then they asked if I’d seen her that evening. I had not. Not at all? Sadly not at all. She had gone missing again and they had hoped she might have come down to see me again. We got the ladies to leave their number with us just in case she did stop by. I searched my department hoping to find her hiding away somewhere, but no such luck.
I was so disappointed. And not disappointed in her. I know how hard it is to deal with depression. I was disappointed with myself. I hadn’t helped her enough before. I hadn’t said hi when I’d seen her outside of work. I hadn’t been on the shop floor. What if she had come to see me but couldn’t find me because I was in the warehouse? What if she just felt too embarrassed to come and find me again? I should have made her feel more at ease. I was so disappointed to know that somewhere my stranger was struggling and I couldn’t help her.
But life isn’t without it’s strange quirks. I had been out and about yesterday and was bloody starving. I thought about getting KFC because who doesn’t love chicken? but couldn’t be bothered to go too far out of my way so I settled for a disappointing trip to McDonald’s. And while standing in line, who should I see but my stranger. She was standing out in the sun, talking away on her phone and a felt real relief that she was okay. She was still on the phone when I walked past her so I didn’t say anything, I just smiled in acknowledgement and saw absolutely zero recognition in her eyes… I apparently have a face only memorable when drunk.