I'll Tell You One Thing
Have you ever heard someone say that about another person? "Well....her heart is in the right place." Which means, yes, she's insufferably rude and intolerably opinionated and hopelessly judgmental, but she doesn't mean to be. It's just her way. It's all she knows. She's really a very nice person deep inside.
She wasn't a member. She was with a friend, who was trying to weigh in unobtrusively, as the meeting had already started. The friend must have known it was a futile endeavor with her larger than life gal pal in tow, but she tried. While she perched calmly on the cold square of metal, her companion barged up to the scale and peered at it suspiciously, with no apology for the blatant invasion of her friend's privacy. Then her gaze shifted to me.
"I'll tell you one thing..." she began, looking at me over the top of her gold rimmed glasses....
Usually a statement of that sort is followed by something unsavory, such as:
I'll tell you one thing, I had no idea a wart could get that big.
I'll tell you on thing, I never thought my vagina would be the same after that.
I'll tell you one thing, I've never seen anything like that come out of a dog.
I'll tell you one thing, a thong is certainly not ideal for Zumba class.
So you can understand why I was prepared for the worst. I couldn't have been more surprised at what came next.
"YOU are absolutely beautiful. Your haircut is just darling, your makeup is exquisite and that dress is the perfect color for you."
I was quite taken aback by the barrage of compliments. I had the distinct feeling that she was buttering me up for something, but I couldn't imagine what. I managed a feeble thanks and tried to usher her out of the weigh station. She was having none of it.
"Now tell me something...how much weight did you lose? The reason I ask is because I have never met anyone who did Weight Watchers that lost any weight." She turned to her friend. "Kathy has been doing Weight Watchers for her whole life hasn't she? And she never loses an ounce! And look at that! You stayed exactly the same this week. Now why is that??" She turned back to me with scarcely a pause in her questioning. "Don't you think that's strange? I mean, why pay all that money to stay the same size? And all you Weight Watchers people are thin. I mean look at you. You have a darling figure. You've never been really very fat have you?"
Only then did she stop peppering me with questions. She skewered me with a gaze that could have broken the most hardened criminal (I learned later that she is the Mother of seven boys) and awaited my response.
I did the best I could to answer her questions. I showed her my before and after picture and told her an abbreviated version of my story. She was very impressed. I explained to her that people can follow the plan and still not lose weight. It's all about the choices we make. I told her we have people that show up week after week for years, who never make any discernible progress. But they usually don't get bigger either. That's it's own kind of progress, I told her. Then I pointed out various people seated in the meeting room who have had great success, one of whom has lost an astounding 130 pounds.
Suddenly, we were bosom pals.
She leaned in closely, placed her sharp elbows upon the desk and rested her chin in her hands. I noticed she had a healing gash across the bridge of her nose, upon which her glasses rested. It looked painful. She began to ask me less confrontational questions about my life, my family, and my job. Since everyone had weighed in and I had no customers waiting, I indulged her. I was pretty sure she wasn't the sort to be brushed off and her friend would be occupied for the next thirty minutes anyway. In for a penny, in for a pound, I decided.
We had a nice little chat she and I. Which is to say that mostly she chatted and I listened. Even when she asked me a direct question, I scarcely got a chance to answer before she charged on to the next question. But she was entertaining, and I get paid to listen, so I didn't mind. It turned out that she gashed her nose tripping over her garden hose and she felt so stupid that she didn't go to the doctor for three days, during which her broken nose had partially set and had to be rebroken and set properly. She told me that she feels terribly isolated now that she and her husband are retired. She doesn't get out much these days and she was terribly excited that her friend was taking her to some kind of political rally called The 9-12 Project after the meeting.
"Isn't that just crazy? An old lady like me going to a political thing? I'm 70 years old! It's very conservative, so I don't think it will be all wild and subversive, but it feels very rebellious to me!"
As we neared the end of our chat, she said, "You have been so blessed. So very, very blessed. So have I. God is so good. Now I'll tell you one thing...(oh no, here we go again)...YOU are a lovely person. You're very patient and kind to talk to a nosy old lady. I'm going to go out on a limb and say you're a Christian. But maybe not! I don't know and I don't care. Because you're a lovely person. And we are both so blessed."
I honestly wasn't sure if I should be offended or honored, so I simply agreed.
"Well goodness, I should let you get back to work. Give me a hug."
I'm not a hugger folks. You all probably know that about me by now. I don't like to touch strange people and I don't like strange people to touch me. But before I could even process the request, she had embraced me. It was a real hug, with both arms wrapped around me; a long squeeze, and then another shorter one, followed by several astonishingly tender caresses on my back.
She released me and joined her friend in the next room where the meeting had just concluded.
I stood there, somewhat stunned, almost in a state of shock at what I had just experienced.
I was helping another customer when she and her friend began making their way to the door, so she waved and then blew me a kiss. I couldn't help laughing.
The she put her palms together and placed them under her chin.
You're in my prayers.
Now I'll tell you one thing...
People like that stay with you for a very long time.