It’s gratifying to hear compliments: “You look nice today,” or “I love your shoes.” A kind word can lift the spirits on days when you really need it. But if I had to pick the best compliment I’ve ever received, I’d have to refer to a conversation I had with one of my coworkers last year.

I work as a cashier at a grocery store, and this particular young man–he’s 17–had just started his job and was asking me some questions about me out of curiosity. I explained how I’d been married for 20 years, started working at that very store at 18 on the register, moved over to the deli, left and waitressed for a while, went back to the store, went to community college and worked for an accountant, met my husband and got married, worked in the beer & wine department, had our daughter and stayed home with her for two years, went back to work at a toy store, then eventually came back to the grocery store–to work on the register.

I’d come full circle, and, I thought, not gotten very far. It’s perhaps one of the nagging regrets of my approaching middle years: I look around me at my young coworkers with bright futures, and think–I didn’t do enough. I didn’t improve myself. I didn’t get far in life at all. I still live in the same town I was born in, never having left it, if that tells you anything.

But this young man, who plans on being a doctor (or a lawyer)–and I have no doubt that he will do just that–this young man, in all sincerity, said to me, “Wow, you’ve had an interesting life.”

I was struck dumb for a minute. No one had ever said that about my life before. I certainly hadn’t believed I’d lived anything but a normal (and slightly dull) existence. In fact, I’d been ashamed at what I hadn’t accomplished in my life. But this young man, with the fresh, undiscriminating eyes of the young, had proclaimed that my experiences had amounted to “an interesting life.” Huh.

That has to rank as one of the best compliments I’d ever received, mostly because it was so surprising, and made me look at my life in a new light. Perhaps it takes someone else’s perspective to achieve this.

Now that I think about it, maybe I do have a pretty interesting life, at least to me. There aren’t a lot of external bells and whistles, but there’s a stack of notebooks and journals suggesting that how I process this life is what makes it interesting.

Thank you, Peter.

be in love with your life
Still trying.


6 thoughts on “Compliment

  1. I liked this post, Tina. I’ve kept it in mind for the past few days, especially after just reading a small recently published Japanese novel titled “Convenience Store Woman.”

    Now let me explain. I really think you should read this novel. Partly because of the young man’s compliment…which is undoubtedly a true statement, but mostly because of your strong creative mind. The author of “Convenient Store Woman,” Sakaya Murata, even now works part-time in a convenience store in Japan. The “convenience” stores in Japan are run somewhat differently than here in the states, and yet there are quite a few similarities.

    I believe you could do the same: that is, write a novel based on your experience as a cashier in a grocery store. You work with the public, which is a story a day! I am recommending this novel because you are a very good writer, and I think it might push you in an interesting direction. And if not, well it’s a good read and I’m sure you’d enjoy it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Paul for your response and recommendation. I’ll definitely check out “Convenient Store Woman”. You know, I’ve written about my experiences in a grocery store, but mostly just writing exercises, characters sketches, that sort of thing. But I haven’t quite figured out a plot yet! I think it may be simmering inside me, and maybe it will come out someday. Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful compliment to get since it took you into a place where you could look at your life from another perspective.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if each of us could accept and appreciate the “very now” with the knowledge that everything changes and nothing is preordained.

    Your life is yours and unique in every way

    Liked by 1 person

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