For some reason I was able to make the trip from the parking lot to the stack of fruit and vegetables without a pause. I had been given a short list from home so I was searching uncharted territory for oranges and a lime. I even had written down tips to assist in getting the right ones. The words “thin skinned” appeared next to the listing of oranges.
I spied the oranges immediately and made a beeline to them. I admired the entire display for a moment noting that possibly the lighting made them all appear spectacular. It also occurred to me that someone had spent a lot of time stacking them just right. So I started looking for four “thin skinned” ones giving a few a gentle squeeze.
I was in the checkout line shortly after accomplishing my chores in the produce section. I had been inside the store for possibly a total of 2-minutes. 2:20 for argument sake. The teller asked what kind of oranges they were and indicated there were two different varieties and they looked very much alike but were very different. She led me back to the produce section.
It turns out I had the correct ones and as I made my way back to the checkout I recognized a former customer of ours. She used her shopping cart to block me and once she got my attention she blurted out, “I miss your paper!” It wasn’t the first time I had heard that. In fact, both my wife, Brenda and I get that kind of feedback weekly to this day.
The strange thing was that this week marks six months since our final issue had hit the street. It was a week filled with many highs and lows and in a way, this week was starting to be the same. Usually I take the opportunity to get into a long conversation about the interesting things we are now doing in this new chapter in our lives. Only this time I didn’t.
I looked the woman straight in the eye and said as sincerely as I possibly could, “Thank you.” Then I proceeded to the checkout, paid for the oranges and lime, walked to the car in the parking lot and drove home. I had not thought about it again until I shared the story twice afterwards in two different settings with two different sets of people.
While it was so nice to be reminded that our product is still missed, it also reminded me that half a year ago we shut the doors to our business. We have gone on to great things since then, but it still gnaws at me every so often that my business – something I was so very proud of – had come to an end and had to be laid to rest. Yet, I was not losing sleep over it, either.
I think maybe I was taken by the fact that six months have passed already. Surely it had only been two or three. Also, I think maybe I had hoped the six month mark would pass by quietly. What continues to surprise me is how others around us continue to be affected enough about the loss to remind us. Because of that, I say a sincere “thank you.”