Every since I've worked in a retail environment, especially in optics, I seem to attract customers that are a "little" different. My best friend will confirm this and probably most of the girls that work with me now will too. It's not that they are crazy people or strange looking creatures (although through the years some may have been) it's just that they decide they like me and I'm the one they want to wait on them. They are usually impossible to please with glasses for some reason or another and they are very time consuming and they make it quite clear that it is ME they want to wait on them. All of us have a few customers like this, that want a particular person to wait on them but my people, well like I said, they are a little different. They are the kind of customers that my fellow associates are "glad" only want to see me. One of my "specialties" seems to be grumpy old men. I can handle them and when I do they usually become so loyal to me that I'm stuck with them forever.
One of these people came in yesterday. When he and I first met a few years back, he was grumpy and fussy and complaining but after he realized I wanted to help him, he's been nothing but a sweetie pie since. He's in his 80's but a really alert, young looking 80 something. As usual he has problems with his glasses. He never fusses, we just discuss what he thinks he needs and I try as hard as I can to get that for him.
We had such a conversation yesterday and then before he left he quietly told me that he was so sorry to have heard about my son and that he'd been thinking about me so much. He then told me this. "I know this is hard to understand and some people can't understand why a person would do this, but I do."
I nodded and thought that was all he was going to say but he went on to tell me this, "There was a time in my young life when I thought seriously of doing what he did. Nobody knows that, I've never told anyone. I was at Hiroshima and I saw things there that nobody should ever have to see. When I got back home and my parents asked me about it, I didn't want to talk,and so they quit asking. I would have never wanted my mother to know some of the terrible things I saw there. I didn't talk to anyone about it,and it ate away at me. There came a time, just to get it out of my head I thought of suicide and I thought hard about it. Somehow, I got through it, but still to this day I've never told anyone about that time.Not what I saw over there and not that I'd thought of suicide. So, you see, I understand how someone can get to that point."
I gave him a pat on the arm and thanked him for sharing that with me. I'd never even known he'd been in the service but then the only thing we usually ever talked about was his glasses. I felt quite honored that he shared something with me that he'd never told anyone else. And when I looked into his milky blue eyes I saw the pain there still, up until then I'd only seen the spark of his sweet spirit.
You want to talk about strength, there is a man who has it. I don't know how his life went after that but I do know he married and had children and held a job down and he is a pleasant, kind hearted person. See, you just never know about people.
You don't know the burdens they are carrying or have carried in the past and overcome.