Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sometimes You Just Want to Hug a Customer

This morning, a woman bought a copy of J.D. Salinger's Nine Stories.  I told her about how I buy copies of this collection and hand them out whenever I feel someone needs it.  She told me about her favorite edition (the entirely white cover with the rainbow corner) and how her favorite story was "The Laughing Man." I had to comment--that story haunts me every year, and I always read it as slowly as possible. Upon every re-read I find something new, and it's always connected to some new life experience I've had that allows me to interpret a bit more of the story to fit my evolving idea of 'adulthood.'  I wish I could go back to my sixteen-year-old self and see what she saw upon reading that story, because that point of view is long gone.

I told the woman about reading it again in a college English class and being startled by what it contained.  Things I had previously glossed over popped to the forefront, holding my face in its hands and forcing me to look it in the eye.  Much like the story itself, I had been reading without bothering to notice there was a storyteller with a life of their own behind it.

It turned out the woman was a professor getting ready to teach "The Laughing Man" to one of her classes. As she left, she smiled at me and said, "You've affirmed my faith in everyone under thirty."

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