England - 2012, My sister

The story of a pen (or two)

When I was over visiting my sister a few months ago, every so often we would get brave and venture out of the house.  Down a steep hill into the little town that seemed all backwards.  Crossing streets where cars come from the “Wrong” direction, and getting used to other unusual things…one of the stores we would pass on our way to the grocery shop was a little craft shop.  Every time Amanda would lean in close and whisper “That man is MEAN!”


I had heard so many horror stories about this “Mean man” that when Amanda suggested one afternoon that we go in there, I considered crossing the street.  There was NO WAY I was going in that store.  But one fine afternoon, I was in desperate need of a new pen.  Don’t ask.  I just needed a special pen.  So off we went.

“He got mad at me!” Amanda said.  And recounted to many times the man was angered by her.  Simple things like opening the door – apparently set him off.  Taking caps off of pens, and flipping through various paper was also one of his “Trigger” points.  I made careful mental notes of all these things.  We approached the store and peeked in the glass windows.

“That’s HIM!” Amanda whispered.  “Let me SHOW you!” she said, a little too happy as she swung the door open with great gusto.

I followed close behind, making sure to give the door an extra tight close.  The man stared.  I scurried off as if he would erupt at any moment.  We browsed the discount racks while his eyes were hot on us.  “Lets get you a pen!” Amanda declared as she boldly marched past the counter to where the pens were.  I smiled a sheepish smile and leaned in.  “You sure?” I asked.  She nodded.  And began popping lids off different pens, I frantically tried to put the lids back on, while stealing a glance at the poor man behind the counter.

After deciding on not one, but two pens, we headed to the cash register.  The store was a small store – most likely so he could keep a close (and evil) eye on all his customers and scold them when they did something less than pleasing.

“We would like to buy these!” Amanda declared.  Proudly.  I plunked my pens down.

After ringing us up, I realized I was almost a pound short.  Fear filled my body.  What would he say when I told him I needed to only purchase ONE pen!  Knowing he would be none too impressed if I asked to put it on my debit card.  I looked at my money.  Then at the pens.  I opened my mouth…no words came out.  I leaned into Amanda “I don’t have enough.” I told her.

She didn’t say anything.  She didnt even move.

Finally, I spoke.

“I ah.  Need to put this one back.  I will just get this one here.  I don’t have enough right now to get that and I don’t think you want me to put it on my card because then you will get mad and kick us out onto the street and I really don’t want to get run over by a British driver!”  I blurted out.  Ok, so maybe I didn’t say all of that.  But I did tell him that I only needed one pen.

He stuck his hand out, and I handed him my money.  He gave me both pens.  I looked at him.  He smiled.  “Don’t worry about it.”

Amanda and I hurried out before he could change his mind.

“Have a good day!” he called out behind us.

Once we were a good distance down the road I looked at Amanda.  Who shrugged and said “He is usually much meaner!”

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