I'm amazed at how Billy Coffey is able to observe people -- their actions and conversations -- mostly without being noticed unless he chooses to be noticed. He's like a ninja:
Conversely, when I attempt to observe people, I am also like a ninja, only more like this:
This was the case when I attempted another ten dollar challenge yesterday.
Go to the nearest Toys R Us, sit in the parking lot and look for an older car (perhaps in disrepair) then seek out the person of persons emerging from said car, purchase a gift card and slip the card in their shopping cart while they were still shopping.
Abort Plan. There were no older cars in the parking lot. It was a sea of late model SUVs and mini vans.
Drive across the street to Walmart, buy a gift card and slip the card in someone's shopping cart.
Abort Plan. This is a pretty fancy Walmart...
Drive to the Walmart on the other side of I-10 which is located in an area that is not quite as affluent as my local Walmart.
Went to cashier and purchased a Walmart gift card. It was more than $10, but that's not really the point, right? It's about being blessed and passing the blessing on. But I digress...
After purchasing the gift card, I walked around the store, ninja like. After walking around with no real plan for about 20 minutes, I remembered this book (due to be released in the Fall of 2010) I read recently which, among other characters, had a secret Santa roaming around the toy aisles of a major box store. (Snow something...) Anyway, I figured that was as good a place to look for someone to bless as any, so I made my way over to the toy department. I spotted several candidates, all with groceries in their carts. It seemed that the toy aisle was their last stop. Hmmm...not really feeling the Holy Spirit leading me in any of these situations.
And then I spotted them. Hispanic couple, 30ish pushing an empty cart up one aisle and down another. Their first stop was at the scooters. They looked at them closely, looked at the yellow price sticker on the shelf and moved on. I then followed them (still ninja like) to the aisle that contained the boy toys. They stopped at the RC cars and trucks. They pulled out the biggest monster truck from the bottom shelf. Pulled out several, actually. A hushed conversation in Spanish ensued. I assume it was hushed because A) I was standing pretty close to them and B) Everyone assumes I'm hispanic and therefore able to understand Spanish. After about 5 minutes, they put the bigger trucks back on the shelf and settled for a smaller version which they placed in their cart. They moved down the aisle to the matchbox cars. The woman picked up a Lightning McQueen car, said something to her husband, then returned it to the shelf.
They moved on to the next aisle: Barbies, Bratz and all things girly. At this point I have already decided that they would be the recepients of my little plastic blessing. I had also decided that I'd better do something pretty soon, because as much as I was trying to be ninja like, I don't exactly blend and I was wondering if I was creeping them out a bit. They had parked their cart in front of the princess costumes. That's when I approached the woman.
"Excuse me", I said. "Do you speak English?"
"A little", she said.
Pulling the gift card from my purse and handing it to her I said, "Merry Christmas to you."
After the briefest look of confusion, her eyes lit up and her lips curled into a big smile. "Thank you, and Merry Christmas to you."
And then I got a great, big Christmas hug. Awesome.
Now, a seasoned writer may have ducked behind the next aisle and waited to see what else the couple put in their cart, thereby making a much better blog post. But me? I just hightailed it out of there straight to the front of the store and out to my car.
But my hope? My hope is they went back and got the big truck.