Lost Child

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It was a pretty good record. In the four seasons I’d worked on the mountain, we didn’t have to deal with a lost child until the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend of my last season.

Not long after the other clerk went to lunch, I saw Cindy from the parking lot leading a kid up to the Mercantile. They were walking slowly, and it was obvious to me there was a problem.

The kid was big but probably only eight or nine years old. He wore one of those sun hats with cloth hanging in the back to protect the neck. The hat was khaki and too large for his head. When he looked at me, his dark eyes were huge with fear.

While the parking lot in front of the Mercantile had been busy all morning, things inside the store had been slow. Things got busy in the Mercantile right at noon. Moments after the other clerk went to lunch, shoppers swarmed the store. Once the line formed at the cash register, all I could do was ring up purchases. I couldn’t help anyone find a size or answer questions about merchandise, much less watch out for shoplifters. I could only scan barcodes and hope the people in the store would behave like upstanding citizens.

The other clerk had been gone about twenty minutes when I saw Cindy walk up with the kid who turned out to be lost. About five minutes after I saw Cindy and the kid walk up, the other clerk came back into the store.

There’s a lost child, she said breathlessly.

Call the police, I said, reaching for the phone.

No. His family is still here. The car is still here, she told me.

Person Wearing Shirt Standing Near TreeThe car was parked in the main parking lot. The boy and his family had gotten separated on the trail, the boy said, when he fell behind the group. When he made his way to the family car, it was empty. Now it was just a matter of waiting for his family to return.

I’m going to sit with him at the car until his family comes back, the other clerk said.

The Mercantile was still packed with shoppers. I easily had six people lined up at the register. No one was watching for shoplifters. No one was helping customers.

Really? I wanted to ask. The kid couldn’t sit at the front of the parking lot next to Cindy and the other parking lot attendant? He couldn’t sit there fully supervised and watch for his family? He needed a one-on-one adult to sit with him next to the family car? Was this the best allocation of the Mercantile’s person power at a time when the store was packed with customers?

Instead of questioning my coworker, I shrugged. When the wife of The Big Boss Man says she wants to go sit with a lost kid until his parents show up, The Big Boss Man’s wife sits with the kid. I just kept ringing up purchases, not even worried about what might be going on behind my back.

The other clerk/wife of The Big Boss Man wasn’t gone as long as I feared she would be. The kid’s parents were angry at him when they were reunited. (I hope they were feeling relief laced with anger and not anger alone.) I guess they thought he should have kept up with the group. Someone should probably tell those adults that a group is only supposed to hike as fast as its slowest member.

Image courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-wearing-shirt-standing-near-tree-1051321/.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now my (male) partner and I (a woman) have a travel trailer we can pull with our truck. We have a little piece of property, and when we're not traveling, we park our little camper there. I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

2 Responses »

  1. This “Cindy” person sounds really dumb and lazy while you did all the work on that day. I’m so sorry. That must have been rough for you. If she were a subscriber to your blog she would obviously know how you feel about her. Especially on a busy holiday weekend.

    • Oh! I think my writing must have been confusing. Cindy did not work with me at the Mercantile. Cindy worked down the street at the parking lot. She brought the kid down to the Mercantile to see if his parents were there. The boss’s wife was my coworker at the Mercantile. I don’t think she was lazy so much as just had priorities different from mine. I figured our job in the Mercantile was to help the customers in the Mercantile. I thought the kid would have been fine waiting for his parents in the parking lot with the two adult parking lot attendants. The boss’s wife thought her time was better served sitting with the lost child. I just did what I could to ring up the sales where I worked.

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