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Romance Happy Holiday

"Sir? Sir? We're closing."

"I just need a minute. A minute in which to safe my life!"

I look up and see how this man runs inside the store and makes his way directly to me. Oh great, some lazy boyfriend who forgot Christmas is tomorrow. I just wanted to close the cash register. My manager nods at the direction of the man and signals I should serve him anyway. The man looks desperate, he will probably spend a lot of money. I understand, take a deep breath and put on my 'the customer is always right' smile.

He indeed stops at my department and looks through the windows of the displays. Sales were huge today, as they are always right before Christmas. Men mostly, trying to impress their wives, girlfriends or mistresses. I wonder for which of the three he is buying.

"That one. Do you have a necklace that looks nice with it?" He points at a shiny bracelet that has some tiny diamonds in it. It's not the cheapest we have in stock.

"I can show you a couple and you..."

"Just anything that compliments it." I raise an eyebrow and try to hide my surprise. Or is it disgust? But, the customer is always right. While the store speaker is asking the shoppers one final time to leave, I get out one necklace from a display that is not in sight and is meant for special customers. Which means nothing more than customers with good money.

Not that he looks rich, far from it. But it's in his attitude. He doesn't really care what he buys or if it would fit her. He just needs something to impress her. And if he wants to impress, then I got the stuff for it.

"This collier is designed to..."

"Yeah, perfect. I take it and the bracelet."

"Okay."

I turn around, looking for my manager, but she's only giving me an encouraging look. She doesn't care either what he buys, as long as he buys something and buys something expensive. She continues closing up the other registers as I turn back to the customer and smile.

I take both pieces of jewelry and put them in their expensive jewel cases. Two shining pieces on red velvet, each in a luxurious red box. I'm selling these things, I will never receive them. Let alone being able to afford them. I place them on my counter, out of the customer's reach, and reach out for the wrapping paper. The store is now officially closed, but the least I can do is wrap it nicely for whom I assume is his wife. I show him the wrapping paper I want to use. He’s frantically shaking his head. 

“Oh no, no need to do that.” 

“But they’re gifts, right? I can wrap them really nice, so that she is already happy before she’s unwrapped them.” I’m excellent at wrapping. In fact, I can make a 5 dollar watch look expensive, only by the way I wrap. He’s still shaking no. 

“That only takes more time. I have a date at 6.” 

“Ah.” I answer. I know I shouldn’t have responded at all. But this guy comes rushing in one minute before 6 to buy his date gifts, which is at 6. Classy doesn’t even cut it on the sarcasm scale. 

“Besides, it’s already wrapped.” 

“Sorry?” 

“It’s wrapped. In the boxes.” he points at them. “That’s good enough.” 

Wow, and I thought romance was dead. 

“I assume you don’t need a bag either?” 

“No. Now, can I please pay?” 

“Of course. Sir.” Stay polite, always stay polite. I add the total at the cash register and say the total amount. It’s ridiculously high, he doesn’t even blink. One swipe with his credit card and the jewelries are his. I put them on the glass display, and he quickly puts them in his inner pocket of his jacket. Before he leaves he takes one look at me, or rather at my name tag. 

“Thanks Kim. Happy Christmas.” 

“Have one yourself, sir.” He’s the last one to leave the store. He made the biggest sale of the day and my manager is beyond herself and praises me. 

“He’s still a dick.” I say. “He doesn’t even care, just buys something to please his wife.” 

“And she’s a stuck up bitch for not caring about that.” my manager replies and we both start laughing. She’s right. It’s none of my business what kind of relationship he has. I’m just glad I don’t. I may not have a relationship at all, at least it’s not cold and meaningless. 

After we’ve closed up for the holidays, I meet up with some friends at the Olive Garden. I’m late but that’s okay. Nobody judges. No one expects me to deliver expensive gifts either. Life is uncomplicated, and that’s just the way I like it. 

It’s past 10 ‘o clock when we leave the restaurant and all go our separate ways. I decide to walk home. It’s a long walk, over an hour, but that doesn’t bother me. The air is dry and cold. There’s a festive spirit in town and I want to soak it up as long as I can. The town is also lit with festive lights. I try not to think about the next two days. Days I will be spending alone. I’m okay with that, it was my very own decision to move to America. Working in a department store was not part of the plan, but I’m fine with how things turned out. 

“Hey, Kim.” 

I stop walking and turn to my right. Did someone just say my name? 

“You are Kim, right? We met earlier today.” 

A man walks up to me. Normally I would freak out and continue to walk. I remember the man indeed, and that would normally freak me out as well. But for some reason it doesn’t. 

“Yeah, I remember you. You’re the guy who rushed in at closing time. Did she like the gifts?” Always polite, even after closing time. I’m betting that she did. But instead he is giving me a sad smile. 

“I never got to give them to her.”

“No?”

“I was late. Turns out she was also seeing someone else, and she invited us both to the same restaurant. Whoever would show up first, she would spend the holidays with.” 

“Oh. I’m sorry.” I’m not sure if I am, but it seems the appropriate thing to say. At least I judged the relationship right, cold and heartless. From both sides. 

“Yeah, I enter the restaurant and I see her kissing that guy. I walk up to that table, sit with them, trying not to create a scene. You know how that is.” I nod, but I don’t. There are a couple of sarcastic remarks I’d like to say, but I hold back. I want to know if a scene eventually had folded out. 

“So she just looks at me and tells me it’s over. She’s with Fred now. Someone who knows to show up on time and actually has time for her.” He makes a dramatic sound. 

“And Fred was okay with the fact that he was two timed as well?” He gives me a puzzled look. He squints his eyes and looks like he is thinking about the sentence I just said. 

“Oh yeah, she cheated on him as well. No, he didn’t seem to mind. Told me to leave. And I did. I went to this fancy fast food place and ate something there.”

“Fancy fast food place?” I repeat. 

“Yeah, you know, where they serve fast food but then on a plate.” I smile at him. “Better food than what I had planned with her anyway.” 

“I’m sorry to hear your date didn’t turn out great.” 

“Ah well, she probably wasn’t worth it.”  He stops and then says. “You are.” 

“Excuse me?” 

“You seem sincere. I saw the look on your face, you thought I was a total snob. Not caring about what I bought and how much it costs. But despite that, you did your job. You judged, but that’s okay. I judged myself as well. I knew that this would be my last date if I wouldn’t impress her. Thinking of it, I’m not even sure why I bothered. She’s a bit of a moody bitch to be honest. Always nagging. Well, I am always late, and I hardly have time for her. I rather hang out with friends and watch sports or play games.” 

“Not exactly strange behavior for a guy.” Or for myself for that matter.

“I know, right!” he laughs. “But you, you’re sincere. Here. For you. Merry Christmas.” He reaches inside his pockets and hands me the two boxes he had bought from me just hours ago.

“What? No. No, I can’t.” 

“Yes you can. Just put them in your bag, I don’t want you to get robbed. And while you do that, I jump into a taxi and gone I am. Then you need to keep them.”

“And when do I wear something like that? I know what’s in there, remember.”

“Tomorrow. When you have Christmas dinner with your lovely boyfriend.”

“I don’t have a boyfriend.” I snort. “And if I had one, he would be very suspicious of the jewelry. Asking me who gave that to me. Telling me I cheat on him and then leave me on Christmas day. Nah, not a good idea.”

I stretch out my arms and want to give the boxes back, but he refuses. He even puts his hands into the pockets of his jeans. 

“Please Kim, put them in your bag.” There’s something in the tone of his voice that makes me comply. Something soft and caring.

“But I’m not accepting it. Seriously, when do I wear this?” 

“Like I said, tomorrow, on your date.” 

“What date?” 

He smiles and gets a piece of paper out of his pocket. He asks for a pen. I hand him one, and with that he scribbles down an address and a time. He hands the pen and the paper back to me. I recognize the piece of paper, it’s the receipt of the jewelry. 

“Seems bad to write it down on that, but you already know what it costs anyway, so what the heck.”

I stare at the address and the time. It’s a dinner date. At a place where the jewelry wouldn’t look off. 

“I have that reservation, but not a date to go there with.” I wonder if I have anything else to wear that would be suitable for that place. It’s as if he can read my thoughts. 

“You have a black dress?” I nod. “Okay, then I see you, the black dress and your gifts tomorrow at 1PM.” He turns around and holds a taxi. Before he gets in, I raise my arm. 

“Wait. Uh, to what name is that reservation? You know, in case you’re late.”

He signals the driver to wait a little and casually leans over the door. He gives me a big, bright smile. Actually, he looks quite handsome.  

“I’ll be late. But after that, I will show you that I’m not that rich snob you think I am. The reservation stands on the name Kevin. And their fried chicken is really excellent, by the way. See you tomorrow.” He raises his hand before he gets in, and the taxi takes off. I stand on the side of the sidewalk and wave after the taxi until I can’t see it anymore. 

I have no idea what just happened. But I know that I have a date tomorrow. It’s not like I had plans. The least I can do is give him a chance. Maybe he isn’t that bad after all. And if he is, at the very least I had fried chicken on a plate. 

December 21, 2021 16:14

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