Here’s How it Happened …

Here’s How it Happened …

I’ve always heard there were three sides to every story: his, hers and the truth (or hers, hers and the truth) (or his, his and the truth).


I’m at Sears, shopping for a socket wrench. 

I look to the cash register and the lights in the store dim as a female cashier glows in the spotlight of a single beam from heaven. Through the chorus of singing cherubs, the cashier beckons me. 

“Next in line!” 

That’s me!

Joy radiates from her small frame. Her gentle voice reveals an inner kindness to match her outer beauty.

Well-formed sentences in my brain crumble and a nonsensical series of syllables stumble out of my mouth. 

The cashier stares at me with pity and confusion, patiently ringing up my purchase. Our transaction occurs wordlessly since vocabulary, my usual weapon of choice, fails me.

In an effort to redeem myself, and let’s be honest, to see the lovely cashier once again, I go back the next day. I grab a tool I already have and wait in line for the same heaven-sent cashier.

Despite the arsenal of witty conversation starters I have prepared, vowels and consonants once again fail to fall in line and therefore fail to land woo-ingly onto the cashier’s ears.

Another silent transaction and I’m headed home with a tool I don’t need.

Days 3 and 4 follow the same format of great thoughts thwarted by failed execution.

Day 5, yet another unnecessary tool in hand, I reach the cashier.

This time, 4 days’ worth of clever conversation are culled together and with my eloquence, I successfully invite this lovely cashier, whose name tag says “May,” on a date.

This is how my dad answers my question, “How did you and Mom meet?”

Each time he tells the story, it gets more and more dramatic and I swear strolling minstrels will be involved in the next version of it, so I stop asking him.

I turn to hear Mom’s version, “Mom, how did you and Dad meet?”

Yawning, Mom rolls her eyes in an attempt to recall what seems to be a forgettable event. “I was working as a cashier at Sears in the tool department.” 

OK, so far her story lines up with Dad’s.

“This guy came up and had just one item and I rang him up.”

OK, still sounds the same. No mention of earth-shattering chatter, but missing are the dimmed lights and spotlight from above.

“Then, the next day, he came back for another tool.” Another yawn from Mom, exhausted by the memory of these weary interactions so many years earlier. 

“And then the next day he was back” says Mom, on the verge of falling asleep while telling her own story.

Mom continues wearily, “I think he came by every. single. day for about 5 days in a row, never saying anything, just buying one tool at a time. Then on that last day, he asked if I wanted to have lunch.”

Mom punctuates the ending of her story with a shrug.

Each time Mom tells her version of their meeting, it gets more and more underwhelming to the point that I’m surprised they ever ended up together.

Of course, I’m grateful they did, because, well, I probably wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the matchmaking services of the Sears tool department.

And since I am here, it’s funny to compare the evolutions of the slogans for Sears to my own evolution:

- “Sears has everything”

- “There’s more for your life at Sears”

- “Making moments matter”

They ring true for me because Sears had everything my dad needed for his life. And, the vastly-different accounts of that 5-day moment that mattered helps me realize that the same event can be analyzed from multiple viewpoints.

Just because the sound of silence is deafening in one version doesn’t necessarily silence the singing cherubs in another version.

Those varying accounts of the same situation bring a valuable diversity to our lives. At least they did for the couple who would become Mr and Mrs Barrett, AKA Mom and Dad.