I love all things pumpkin spice. Well except those fake scented candles. They give me a migraine. Once fall begins, I make it my personal mission to eat as many pumpkin flavored things as possible. This is my first October since going gluten-free which has put a real damper on my pumpkin pie consumption. So when the cashier at Fred Meyer asked me if I found everything okay, I mentioned I was bummed but not surprised that they don’t have any gluten-free pumpkin pie. I expected some sort of negative reaction since I didn’t respond with the traditional “yes.” Instead, she told me how complicated it is to safely operate a gluten-free kitchen. Turns out, she grew up working in the bakery her parents owned.
A look of pleasant nostalgia lit up her face as she talked about getting up at 4am during the Missouri summers to start prepping the dough. I should have known by how friendly she was that she wasn’t a Seattle native. During her prep time, flour soared freely around the kitchen, giving the illusion of a light snowstorm. While a little wheat flour wouldn’t hurt me, it could cause harm for celiac patients. In order for her parents to provide gluten-free options they would need a second kitchen stocked with its own dedicated pans and utensils. For small business owners like her parents, this just wasn’t feasible. This was brand new information for me. I’ve had flour poof and spill a little on my kitchen counter while baking, but I had no idea it could fly. Before leaving, I thanked her for teaching me more about being gluten-free. She thanked me for indulging her trip down memory lane. I bet she gets so bored when all the Seattleites fail to acknowledge her ability to speak while she bags their groceries.
I would love to read a blog about the people Uber drivers meet. I can’t even speculate on just how ridiculous and random some of the stories would be. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when my most recent Uber driver turned out to be quite the storyteller.
My lower back and hip flexor sprains had kept me mostly housebound for far too long. Since I struggled to stand for more than 5 minutes at a time, I couldn’t walk the two measly blocks to the bus. But I was determined to actually make it to the pinball arcade bar that my boyfriend and his coworkers often frequented. Of course I would be consuming some sort of alcoholic beverage, because, you know, it’s a bar. That meant I couldn’t drive. Thus the Uber. As I sat waiting on the curb, feeling pathetic that I couldn’t stand for the 4 minutes it would take for my car to arrive, the familiar anxiety that comes with being confined with a stranger grew. As soon as I got in the car I told my driver about my injury. I expected the socially mandated “I’m sorry to hear that,” followed by silence. I was pleasantly surprised when he asked me how I hurt myself. I blurted out cliff jumping, and then explained that it was only about a 10-foot jump and therefore doesn’t really qualify. Since I usually hurt myself tripping over my own feet, I was just excited to have a semi-cool story. Then my driver pointed out that he never would have known the difference. In fact, he thought we should come up with a far more fascinating story. So the silliness began as we thought of far more interesting ways for me to get injured. First I was a MMA fighter. Then I was a skydiver. At one point, I was even bucked off a mechanical bull. We actually arrived at our destination before we ran out of ideas. I hope I get to ride with him again some day. Maybe we will even invent reasons for bad traffic. I bet he has some stories.
It was a brisk but sunny fall day when I decided to get a long overdue haircut. I used to scour Groupon for the cheapest possible way to get a quality cut. Then I discovered student salons. Before you start picturing me with mangled hair, let me assure you that has never happened. No reasonable person pays tuition to learn something they don’t care about. Every student stylist I’ve had was thrilled by the opportunity to cut a real person’s hair. Plus those dolls they practice on are creepy. Their enthusiasm is demonstrated by the superior quality and detail of each cut. In case that doesn’t dissuade your concerns, an instructor checks the progress of the haircut several times throughout the process.
I could sense the nervous excitement when my stylist, J.R. greeted me. While she was washing my hair, I told her the story of when I inserted my first catheter in nursing school. She visibly relaxed after learning I had also experienced the emotional minefield unique to students in practicum classes. Then we started to chat. A lot. We covered hometowns, rent prices, pets, boyfriends, and hobbies before one of her classmates, A.M., needed a pep talk. Apparently some of the other students decided A.M. studied too hard and was therefore a bitch. As soon as that word left her mouth, she made the face I would expect from someone who just realized they had toilet paper stuck to their shoe. She apologized to me for being unprofessional. I just smiled and said, “Every successful woman gets called a bitch at least once.” She high-fived me with a big smile and a new found bounce in her step. I was happy to be the one who removed her toilet paper.