My dad died last Thursday, and on Friday morning I met my mom and my two sisters at the Derby Street Shoppes to find some clothes for the wake and funeral. We found what we needed at Talbots and were waiting in line to check out. A woman told us there were open registers on the other side; when we got there, there weren’t, but a salesman appeared and told us to follow him. He took us right to an open register.
He rang up my mother’s order first, and as he did so he made conversation, asking something to the effect of whether we were skipping work for a fun day. My mom smiled and said that we were buying clothes for something we’d rather not be. After a slight, and slightly awkward, pause he asked her if she’d be wearing her dresses soon. When she said yes he wrapped them painstakingly in tissue so when she got home they wouldn’t be wrinked.
She went to sit outside when her order was complete. It was my turn next and I told him that we appreciated how nice he was being because we really needed it. He said that obviously we were going through something and went on to ask me if I wanted my clothes steamed. He didn’t take no for an answer and even sent one of my sisters out to retrieve my mom’s dresses so he could steam hers.
When my order was done I left to sit outside with my mom. Soon enough my sisters came out of the store with smiles and bottles of water for us to drink while we waited. They quickly explained both, relaying what happened after the final order was complete. The salesman asked where we’d be so he could bring us our steamed clothes. My sisters said we’d be outside, thanked him, and asked him for his name, because he had been so helpful. “John,” he said, smiling. John was our dad’s name. My sister told him what we were shopping for and why we were so sad, thanked him again, and they went outside to wait.
Earlier that morning my sister had been advised that my dad would be all around her and to look for the signs. We are sure that the kind, gentle, compassionate salesperson named John is the first of many signs we’ll be getting. Without knowing what we were going through, this man knew to treat us sensitively, he progressively grew nicer as the sale went on, and it made us all feel better.
When the clothes were done, they were “delivered” to my waiting sister—along with a card addressed to “Connie & Family.” How this man treated us, without hesitation, without prying, and without making us feel self-conscious, was exactly what we needed in a dark moment.
We all now believe a little more in signs and are more attuned to my dad’s presence around us. If you ever wonder, when you’re going about your everyday business, whether your actions can profoundly impact others, they can. John the salesman at Talbots at the Derby Street Shoppes proved that, and gave us a smile when we needed it most.