It was a fairly routine trip to the grocery store. I had my thrown-together list that I was still adding to as I walked down the aisles noticing what other people had in their carts – “oooh, soft rolls with soup would be great”“oooh, I definitely need a big bag of tangerines”, “oooh they bought brownies, I definitely need those too!”.  Yes, sometimes I am the most organized, list-ready, grocery shopper ever but frankly sometimes it’s just fun to wing it and live a little bit ‘list-less’. I happened to be enjoying that middle ground with this particular grocery shopping trip – a little bit list, a little bit less.

As I checked out I was enjoying being pampered by two employees at the register: one tallying up my items, the other bagging them and all three of us relishing in the luxury of having time to talk about everything and nothing. It so happened that while I was there the store was giving away relatively large bouquets of flowers to any shopper who spent more than a certain amount. And I most certainly did. So technically I qualified to receive the flowers, which were quite pretty and looked surprisingly ‘unfree’ and of high quality – this was not a skimpy bouquet. As the two grocery employees and I talked, I explained that I could not accept the flowers because my cats would demolish them in a matter of minutes. To Bridgette, Thomas, Echo and Pine Cone, the bouquet would simply act as an amuse-bouche before they received their evening meal and I explained to the personable employees that there would be no reason for me to accept the bouquet.

And then the three of us, practically simultaneously, had what we collectively thought would be a great idea. I would indeed accept the free bouquet and give it to someone on my way out of the store or in the parking lot.

                                                        And therein squats the toad. 

I’m really uncertain as to whether or not it was my poor delivery skills or bad reception skills by my fellow shopping patrons but giving away a bouquet of flowers is sadly not as easy as one may think.

As I left the store, filled with a sense of wonder as to what would happen, who would I choose to gift with the flowers, who would receive them…I was filled with the excitement of anticipation. I walked to my car with my grocery bags, carefully swaddling the bouquet in my arm without seeing another person. 

The day’s light had begun to fade, the street lights were softly glowing and the reddish sky was quickly losing the fight against the impending grey darkness. I loaded my bags and purse in the car but had yet to actually see another person. How could it be that there were no pedestrians around me? Finally a young man approached and then I noticed, he too, had a bouquet in his hand. Finally, I decided to wave at a car driving by – she was driving slowly in the parking lot and I stood on the side waving her to slow or stop – me holding the flowers, she driving her small, red car. We caught eyes as I waved and she drove away.

I tried again. This time it was a black SUV. I stood with the flowers in my arms waving for the vehicle to slow and this time the driver sounded the car’s horn for me to move out of the way.

Again I tried and at this point I was, if nothing else, curious as to whether or not I was absolutely failing at delivering or if this was beginning to be a reception problem. And just to clarify…I was dressed professionally, my hair was as tame as it’s ever gonna be, my ensemble one that could hold it’s own in many places, matching accessories and proper coat for the weather all in place. I wasn’t making aggressive gestures, I was simply trying to give away a bouquet of flowers in a grocery store parking lot to a random stranger. 

                                                   And it was not an easy task!

The next motorist drove the exact model vehicle that I drive and I felt sure that we would somehow connect through some sort of kindred, osmotic connection. I waved at the little car that looked like mine as it drove away. So much for kindred, osmotic connections…I guess those don’t exist, at least not in grocery store parking lots.

Finally, a white mini-van approached. I stood there with my flowers and waved as I had become accustomed; after all at this point I was on a mission to give away this beautiful bouquet of flowers! This time the driver stopped. I slowly approached the passenger window and the driver rolled down the window…I felt as if I had won a prize, excited but containing my joy as to not scare him away. The driver looked at me with suspicion as I asked, “would you like to have these flowers?”…and he paused for what seemed like a very long time and then replied, “yes”. In my mind, confetti had begun to fall from the sunless sky and I handed him the flowers and said, “then they are yours to have”  and I stepped away to let him know that all I was doing was giving him something for nothing. He looked puzzled and confused and I give him credit for his reply,“thank you”.

I continued backing away and replied “you’re welcome”  and stepped toward my car to drive home.

I felt a whole lot of happiness that I gave a stranger a beautiful bouquet of flowers and the fact that he accepted them with gratitude was a nice bonus. Isn’t that is good as it gets? Gratitude from a total stranger?  Yet as I drove home, I thought back to the drivers who saw me standing there and drove on by, one actually beeping at me to step away. What happened there? We’re they afraid of me? Had they lost their sense of wonder or were they simply too busy, too pre-occupied to consider why the woman holding the flowers would be waving at them in a parking lot.

Perhaps I am not skilled at giving away a bouquet of flowers.  But I wonder, are we only able to receive gifts from those we know or deem safe or vetted in some way? Have we erected so many barriers around ourselves that we aren’t open to wondering why a woman would be standing in a parking lot holding a bouquet of flowers and waving at us to slow or stop? And what about the driver who stopped? He is the one who makes me smile, who continues to give me joy as I write this. What happened next? Did he drive home and surprise his wife or partner with flowers? Did he walk in and say, “you’re never gonna believe this”…or did he just say,“honey I’m home…surprise!”.

The experience has me questioning whether or not I’m the silly one for thinking I could simply give a bouquet of flowers to a stranger. Why was that act so difficult? What was happening for those drivers who saw me but chose to drive on. Was it my poor delivery skills? Was it their poor reception skills?  Ought that not to have been easier? For us both? Have we lost our sense of wonder?

                                                          Therein squats the toad.

Thanks for reading,
~ Haven

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