[ DISCLAIMER: Blunt Bites break away from my normal, detailed laugh-out-loud (right?) posts. They are like snapshots of a significant part of my life. Sometimes, they’re serious. Sometimes, they’re funny. But they’re always gonna be delicious. Yum. ]
It was my very first day of work, and you offered me some of your lunch even though you barely had enough to eat. Although it was a struggle to understand you through your thick accent, your laugh was desperately contagious. Your husband also worked at the same company. You would get so excited every time he walked by. I later discovered that you moved your family here from Poland to make a better life. You taught yourself English, graduated with honors, and moved to a tiny house down the street with your three kids and five relatives.
You always carried hot pink lipstick from the Dollar Store in your apron, and the only thing cheesier than your constant smile was the Harlequin romance novels you read every day on your break.
Five years later, I recognized your voice instantly when you called into the bank. I confirmed your name, but didn’t reveal who I was. I could sense that you had been crying. Your account was overdrawn because you had been trying to support your three kids on minimum wage ever since your husband and sisters had left for the grocery store and never returned. Two years had passed since then. You mentioned that you had just celebrated your 40th birthday by making a cake out of flour and water, then you started laughing just like you always did. As I was fighting back tears, I don’t know what alarmed me more: the tragedy of your circumstances or your positive attitude toward them. You responded, “As long as I still have a choice, I’d rather laugh than cry.”
Her name was Renee. I wish there were more of her in this world. She epitomized love. And she taught me more than high school.