My Grocery Store Stripper
It was Sunday afternoon, the Falcons were playing in an hour, and we had nothing to eat during the game. Which in our family is a big deal. I headed off to the grocery store to gather some last minute snacks.
I happened to park at the same time as another girl, about my age, that was, well, almost naked. Maybe worse than naked. She was only wearing her ‘undergarments’ that showed off some recent work she had done. I don’t know that all the work was recent, but her lips were swollen like they were freshly injected and the only part of her that looked real were her blood shot blue eyes. Regardless, she was attractive, and it was very obvious that she is paid for something involving her sexual appearance.
My brain uttered some thoughts to itself. You know, like…
I’m so glad Tripp doesn’t see this.
She’s probably really ugly without makeup.
Of course stripper girl is at the deli counter, my first stop. She was one of two people in front waiting to place an order. I didn’t catch who got there first, but an older woman behind the counter took the other guy’s order first. In the meantime, several other people lined up behind the stripper. Another employee came out to take orders but looked right past the stripper and took the order of the man behind her. Surely this was an accident.
At this point I’m ready to get my wings and dip and get back to my couch. I stood in line behind everyone, but stripper girl is still in the very front. She’s starting to get upset not understanding why no one will even look at her.
Now I am close enough to her to see that the blood shot eyes I noticed from earlier are actually tear stained eyes. Her leftover mascara from the night before lined her cheek in the shape of dried tears.
The deli employees help the two people in between her and I, and now it’s obvious to me, they want nothing to do with her.
Is there some sort of dress code here? Surely not, we are in Los Angeles, pretty much anything goes. I get that her appearance is a bit offensive, but she is still a human being. Stripper girl politely tries to get the attention of anyone behind the counter. They hear her, and look past her to me, then motion for me to come to the front to give my order.
My heart broke in a way that I have never felt before.
The stripper girl, let’s just name her Holly, starts walking off, frustrated… I grab her hand and tell her to wait (you would have too). I walked Holly up to the woman taking my order and told her to go ahead. In a hoarse voice Holly said, “I just need a half pound of chicken.” The employee turns her head to me and asks me what I want.
I was so angry.
But I was also about to burst into tears and didn’t have the courage to say anything other than “I want a half pound of chicken.”
I got it and handed it to Holly. She was shaking. She said thank you. She told me that she was really hung-over from last night and was having a bad week. She told me some story about her friend’s husband that hired her (she didn’t say what for) but she did say that she could never speak to her friend again. She started to cry and changed the subject and told me that I had pretty hair.
For the first time in my life I was speechless.
I said, thank you (to the pretty hair comment) and I told her she had pretty hair too.
I know, brilliant.
There are so many great things I could have said to Holly, but I couldn’t find them.
She listed off some other things she needed to find in the grocery store, and I told her I hoped she felt better.
I left the store, got in my car, and lost it. I cried the whole way home, which was actually only 2 miles away but thankfully traffic gave me 20 extra minutes.
On my drive back, while I tried to blame my emotions on abnormal hormones, I realized how much I relate to Holly. I’m not a stripper, nor have I ever been (or whatever it is that Holly does). But, I have been treated like I am not worthy of love. I have felt like the only thing I have to offer is my body. Because of the consequences of some things I couldn’t control as well as some things I could, I have made some really stupid mistakes that landed me in situations where people belittled me and treated me like I was trash.
Thankfully, I had other people in my life to tell me that was not true AND they were people whose lives were examples of wisdom to me. I was luckily within reach of really good people that loved me and consistently told me I was worthy of love to drown out the sound of the people who told me I wasn’t. Those people helped me chose a better life. I can’t help but think, is anyone telling Holly that? Does she feel stuck because everywhere she goes people treat her like dirt unless they want something from her? Who is drowning out the voices in her life that tell her she is just an object?
Sunday was a powerful reminder to me that people need second chances and sometimes that second chance comes in the form of someone just telling you that you are worth it.
What did your second chance look like?