Sunday, July 1, 2007

Good with Names

We needed a couple of things, so I took the boys to the shopping center (near the site of the rollover.) We drove there with the windows down and sunroof open singing songs with our hair whipping around into our faces. After we got what we needed we made our way across the strip mall. Since I let the boys browse in Game Stop I convinced them to come with me into Old Navy where I could look at clothes. I was feeling conscious of the ratty denim shorts and shrunken faded T-shirt I had on and would like something new to wear. Well nothing caught my eye so I headed towards the front of the store trailing Jeff when Tim appeared holding a pair of striped shorts.

"I want these!" He said.

I looked up towards the registers and saw a woman with a cute curly hairdo looking right at me. I recognized her as Kendrea's friend Shelly.

"Hi Shelly!" I said and smiled at her.

"Can I have them?" Tim held up the shorts.

"Nancy." She said. Shelly must be bad with names, I thought, since we'd been to the Karaoke Bar for all those hours together recently with the Glenmoor Gals.

"Oh! No, Mindy" I corrected her.

"These are 14's, they'll fall down" I told Tim.

"You're an IP engineer, right?" I wondered why Shelly would be asking about my job, had I even mentioned what I did? I took a closer look at her, and then a wave of recognition flowed across my brain. It wasn't Shelly, it was a woman from work. She was the Product Engineering Manager. (PEM)

"Melinda, right?" She said to me, tilting her head to the side a bit.

"Oh! right, yes! Nancy! I mean, I'm Melinda, uh, they call me Mindy, you know, for real, on the outside..."

"I'll wear a belt!" Tim said.

"Did you know I left there?" I asked Nancy.

"No..." She said. "I think there have been two more since you in that job." She was looking at me strangely, possibly because of the awkwardness, or maybe my windy hairdo.

Tim shoved the shorts into my hands.

"This is what I do now! I announced, gesturing towards my windblown boys with the shorts.

"Buy shorts for boys?" Nancy asked, I couldn't tell if she was kidding.

Then a cashier called out to me: "I'll take the next in line!" And I stepped over to the register, suddenly paying for the shorts I hadn't actually decided to get. I took that moment, with my back to her, to remember what I knew about Nancy. She was Mid-to-late 40's, single, with no children. I worked with her on my second-to-last job, doing continuous improvement, a job I was "put" into but was overqualified for. She was in charge of making engineering decisions for a line of Buicks and Cadillacs, and I would go to her for approval of changes. I respected her as being decisive and professional. My boss at that time had asked her to write an evaluation of me, and she was complimentary even though I found the situation kind of humiliating.

We made it through the checkouts at the same time and arrived at the exit doors. I said some parting comment, I don't remember what, and we headed back towards the car. I marveled at the remarkable physical resemblance between Nancy and Shelly, with the difference being that if this encounter had been with Shelly, she would have at some point smiled at me.


Beth said...

At least they look like they fit.

I am terrible with names. Pitty because I live in a small town and I am a minorty... most people know me. I never forget a face though. I get along alright by winging it.... call people older then me Miss or Mr. those my age Gial or boy, and those younger then me babe, or love.... I love living in Belize!

Susang said...

I'm not particularly good with names, but I'm great with faces, and even better with the BSing. I can make people think I'm their long-lost friend, which, when you consider how anti-social I really am, is quite amazing.

As for the shorts, they certainly are plaid. Still preppy after all these years?

Mindy said...

Well I've noticed that the "cool" preppy clothes that Tim wants to wear now are sort of a version of what I had on in the good old 1980's. Such as these shorts but they wear them "low" or a polo shirt he has that is all frayed on the edges and the collar. Thus implying that it's so dorky that it's cool. Nothing like your own kids sending up the fashions of your youth to make you feel old. (which adds yet another point of wisdom for those who took a pass on the whole preppy look in favor of all things black)