Finding Humanity in a Food Court

I had bought my Father’s Day gifts and went on to do what any reasonable woman would do with a $10-off coupon at a Macy’s fifty-percent-off sale.  I shopped till I dropped.

Ah, the perfect beige top; something a little dressy but comfortable. It matches the skirt I found. And a pair of crazy white jeans. I haven’t had anything fit so well in a decade. Plus a few more tops that make me look—shall we say—not boring?

Exhausted, I went to the food court for Japanese noodles and plopped my two bags of incredible savings across the table.

I missed my girls. They used to make me watch them try on every pair of jeans in the juniors’ department. If I ventured away even an inch they came out of the dressing room eyes glaring. “Mom! Where did you go!”

I never felt so loved in my life.

I sucked up a noodle and looked at all the strangers. Then it hit me. I was sitting in the midst of a miracle. I grabbed a receipt from my purse and began scribbling – Blacks and Whites, Hispanics and Asians are eating and talking in twos and threes—every one of them colorblind. I bit my lip and tried not to cry. This was no ordinary Hallmark moment.

The dad in the tan shirt and pants loves his kids. Just watch him. He’s so young, but I can tell they feel safe with him as they eat their Chick-Fil-A meals in a box. My God, there are four and here comes Mom with another one on the way. The little one in the sundress sits on her knees and sips from a straw. She’s the big girl, now.

A young man with a tray of food in his hands walks up to a teenager standing at a table, “Were you sitting here?”

“No, man. Go right ahead,” the teen says. And the young man and his girlfriend of another race take their seats, ready for their dinner. 

Every girl under the age of twenty fidgets with a cell phone and wears flip-flops.  One in particular, at the table to my right, rubs her eye with the back of her hand. It’s been a long day, but she and her friends, all beauties of a different shade, manage to gab incessantly. 

On the other side of my table two young Hispanic women sweep in wearing platform shoes and Capri pants. Their larger-than-life purses shimmer with pink sequins. One of them opens a Brooks Brothers box and inspects the contents. It’s an iPad and she is way too cool to be excited.

A little girl sitting at the long table in front of me wiggles out of her chair. She dawdles for a moment and then tip-toes away. I watch as she looks back and then ventures further. She’s near the trash cans now and the open floor. If someone doesn’t hurry and—swoop! Her big sister picks her up and carries her back to the table, where she settles into her mother’s lap. There now, eat your taco.

I dumped my trash and headed for the escalator. Down on the first floor I looked around for the north entrance. A girl at the jewelry counter asked if she could help. “Yes,” I said. “I’m ready to go home.” FFG

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