Not If I See You First
I have lots of experience lacing shoes but he works here so I’m guessing he’ll win.
“Are you a runner?” I ask. “Or is this just a job?”
“Why not both? But yeah, I run.”
“You ever run track in school?” I ask. Very smooth.
“Still do. Well, if I make the team, which seems likely. Tryouts are next week.”
“Where do you go?”
“I’m a senior at Adams, now. What about you?”
“Ah, you’re one of the immigrants. I’m a native.”
Now I wonder if he’s playing me. Not to be conceited or anything but what are the odds that he’s never seen me and my blindfold tapping around school?
It’s too much to let go. “You haven’t seen me around?”
“No, I guess we don’t have any of the same classes.”
“Or walk the same halls, or eat in the same cafeteria.”
He laughs. “I just walk the track with a granola bar at lunchtime.”
I finish lacing. “Time. You finished already?”
“Uhhh …” he says. “Yeeeeeaaaaaah … finished … Here.”
“I won, didn’t I?”
“You’ll never know.”
Wow, taking advantage of my blindness in a safe, playful way in the first five minutes.
I put on both shoes and stand.
“You have about three or four clear steps in front of you. If you want more, I can clear out an aisle for you.”
“No, this is fine.” I bounce on my toes and run the shoes through some paces. They feel odd but in the usual way new shoes do. Otherwise good.
I pull the credit card from my pocket and hold it out. “I’ll take them. I’ll be up to the counter in a minute.”
“No need, we just got these portable scanners.”
While he scans the shoe box (beep) and types (click click) I change back into my old shoes and pack the new ones away.
“You sign on the screen. I’ll put the tip of the pen where it goes.”
I hold out a hand and it finds a pen. I grab on and he’s holding the other end in space until it clicks on a hard surface.
I sign my name and he takes back the pen.
“I tucked the receipt in the box.”
“If you check it later, which you should, it actually cost only sixty-eight dollars, or seventy-three seventy-eight with tax.”
“They’re on sale?”
“No, I have a Friends and Family discount. I think we’re friends now. It’s just a code we enter—we don’t flag your account or anything—so whenever you come here you have to ask for me, Jason Freeborn.”
“But if my boss asks, I’d better have a name to give him.”
“What’s your name?”
Oh. What an idiot. “Parker. Parker Grant. Just like on the credit card.”
“I didn’t want to assume. A lot of people use their parents’ cards.”
“Here are your shoes. Promise me you won’t run at night, even though you can.”
“Good. Maybe I’ll see you in the halls at Adams. And since we’re friends now, I want to see you run in these sometime.”
Strangely enough, I’m thinking I might let him.
he Doctor is IN.
Except there are no patients in the room, or rather the table where Sarah and I are sitting outside in the Junior Quad. We provide easy access to our patients but not much privacy. Sarah says we can’t be overheard if we talk softly but people still have to struggle with whether they want to be seen with us since most people know why we’re out here every morning. Well, most Adams natives know, not the Jefferson immigrants.