I had 4 things: a little cardboard carton of food, a bottle of yerba mate, a 1L bottle of lime Perrier, and some Glee gum. Normally, I would have gone through the express line, but this time I had a hunch that the regular line would be faster. So, I got in line and casually observed the woman in front of me as she completed her transaction. But my attention soon shifted to the cashier.
He was skinny with a scruffy face and salt-n-pepper hair that swooped in all the right places. I was taken aback by his toothy, oversized smile that seemed to sweep over is face like stage curtains. He was peppy, energetic, and exuberant,while other employees seemed to be running on fumes as they struggled to make it through the store’s final hour. I looked at his name: Bobby Sunshine. Are you kidding me? I wanted to ask if that was his real name but decided against it. Anyone this happy deserves the name Bobby Sunshine!
When it was my turn to check out, we exchanged the usual pleasantries scripted for cashier and customer. And once that was out of the way, I said, “You seem really excited to be here.” He proceeded to tell me that he was feeling happy in a way he’d never felt before. He shared with me that this past weekend, he worked as a security guard for VIP lounges at Austin City Limits.
“It was amazing! And I finally discovered what I want do. I want to be a security guard!”
I felt my eyebrows lift and my body rock backward in surprise.
I said, “Oh yeah? That’s awesome!” He proceeded to tell me that it’s been so hard to be wandering around without a sense of direction and how incredible it feels to know what he wants to do. He said, “It’s crazy to think about all the little things that have happened that got me to that moment of getting that gig at ACL. Like how everything works together, ya know. I guess it’s about trusting the universe to reveal your path.”
The rest of our short but deep conversation is a blur to me. It was like a scene from a movie where all the external noises become muted echoes and my own thoughts amplify. Something in me was undone. But I was also delighted and inspired. Delighted by the simplicity of his dream and the rarity of such child-like joy. Inspired by the depth of meaning-making and total lack of inhibition in sharing his greatest desire.
We finished our transaction and warmly said goodbye, sensing that something more than money and groceries had just been exchanged. I ate my dinner alone, keenly aware of my hunger for joy and dreams.