This is a story about Menard’s, an open can of paint, and a cute girl with Down syndrome.
A few months back, I made a quick trip to the store for some more paint to finish a room in our basement. I took the empty paint can, because, well, I’m NOT handy and I knew I’d forget what to buy at the store, and it actually seemed like more work to find a pen and paper and write stuff down. I put the empty, open paint can in a very old beach bag in the car.
I was set, had my paint, and was ready to make the purchase.
At Menard’s, I found the paint and made my way to check out. In line, I saw a neighbor and we chatted about summer camps; the good, the bad, the ugly. And then, mid-sentence, I spotted a cute little girl who had Down syndrome. She was with her parents (makes sense, she is two; Polly and Evie weren’t allowed to go out on their own until they were at least four . I excused myself from the neighbor (in retrospect, very rude. Should have stayed and chatted with him). I walked over to the family with the child with Down syndrome and introduced myself.
“I have two little girls with Down syndrome.”
“Your paint is dripping,” the mother said.
“Oh, sorry, here, let me get that.” I looked down at my porous beach bag and noticed the opened paint can still had paint in it, and it was spilling out of the bag. It got on me. It got on the mother’s foot. It got everywhere.
“Oh my goodness. So sorry. Just a second, let me find you some paper towel.”
The story gets worse. I should have just said goodbye then. Something comes over me when I see families who have children with Down syndrome. It’s like we already know each other. I have to hold myself back from hugging their children.
I went up to the check out counter and interrupted the person working there.
“Excuse me, do you have a trash can.” I handed her the bag of paint before noticing that she was trying to ring up my neighbor. How embarrassing. I don’t know him well. I’m sure he just wanted to get out of Menard’s and here was his strange neighbor, running around flinging paint all over the place.
I went back to the sweet family with the cute little girl, gave them paper towels and tried to transition into mellow mom, just saying “hi.” It didn’t quite work. I was all jazzed up by then. I should have just complimented their child and moved on. Instead, words tumbled out of me. I got out my phone and showed pictures of the girls. I gave them my card.
The family was accommodating and the little girl was smart as a whip and gorgeous but I think they really just wanted to shop.
Then, Sunday after church, we had to do another coat of paint. Off I went to Menard’s again.
This time, I wrote down the information and left the paint can at home. But we needed sealant for the bathroom. I grabbed that empty tube and decided beforehand to adhere to the advice I give my kids, ”don’t talk to strangers.”
At Menard’s, I found the paint and the sealant and headed to the check out.
“Good morning, did you find everything alright?” The cashier asked.
“Yes, thanks. Oh, could you please throw out this old tube of sealant? I brought it with me to ensure I get the right replacement. I tend to do that, bring empty things to Menard’s, that is. Like yesterday, I brought an empty paint can and got paint all over the place.”
“That was you?” the cashier looked at me in wide-eyed astonishment.
Apparently, she worked yesterday and I was the crazy lady with the empty paint can, bothering their customers.
“Yes, it was. But, look, I’ve learned my lesson.” I held up my scratch paper to show my notes.
The cashier smiled at me and laughed, shaking her head.
“Thanks so much! Have a good one!” I grabbed my supplies and my receipt and high tailed it out of the store.
I think next time I’ll go to Home Depot.