Face time

The woman behind the counter at my corner convenience store was dressed up in a fancy satiny red dress, all lace and beads and gold edging. Her dark hair was styled and up. Her make up was impeccable. In the center of her forehead was a tiny, shiny red gem. The buzzing fluorescent lighting did not do her justice. I wish I knew more about the culture from which she came. The way she was dressed and decorated had a purpose and a context, about which I was stupidly, insensitively unaware.

As she rang up my purchase of two small donuts and a beer, she kept poking and waving at her phone, a white older iPhone. From the phone came the sounds, clipped by digitalization and the tiny speaker, of a man’s voice speaking a language foreign to me. When she put the phone down on the counter to count back the singles of my change, I could see the screen filled with a man’s face, handsome, middle-aged, much like the woman.

She was laughing and giggling, and she would wave at the screen, distracted from her job. I was patient and smiled. I kept the thought in my head that I was in no hurry to keep her from her conversation, that the two glazed sugary treats were of far less importance than the man she was clearly infatuated with.

“Are you FaceTiming?” I asked.

She bubbled out a yes, her eyes still fixated on the tiny 4 inch screen laying on the counter just above the lottery tickets.

“Thank you, my dear. I hope you have a lovely evening.” Her eyes lit up in laughter in response to something the man had said and she swept the phone up in one hand and spun away from the register, her other hand coyly covering her mouth.

I walked out, clutching my bag of fried dough, setting off the buzzer as I left, into the dark rain soaked sidewalk.