My first job as a teenager was at HEB Hancock Center, when it actually faced Red River. Actually, I briefly had a job at Mr. Natural on Cesar Chavez, the vegetarian Mexican food place, but was fired when I spent too many late nights with my boyfriend out on Lake Travis (story of my life). HEB is a grocery chain in Texas and this one catered to the UT crowd, and was filled with college boys and girls. You can imagine the trouble I got into there, with the college parties, crushes, and bands I just had to go see. I made lifelong friends at that HEB, and continued to shop there well into my marriage and when I bought houses in Windsor Park and later in the Cherrywood neighborhoods.
One of my good friends there was an odd girl (we were all odd) who would sack groceries with me. She was a thin white girl with a shaved head and had escaped a small Texas town. She was 19 (so much older than me) and was blunt and to the point and we really got along. She’d go outside for a smoke then run back in before she got found out. What really fascinated me was that she’s been engaged to a young guy her age and had run to the big city of Austin with an older (35-40 years old) man who was way into her. She didn’t have to work, the man was trying to take care of her but she knew he was controlling and she had no skills so had to do something. So she bagged groceries at HEB and she dodged him if he came up to the store to check on her during her breaks.
I was really energetic and motivated (yes, people, about bagging groceries) and always talking, talking, talking. My new friend would smile at my frenzy and humor me. I made a game of bagging things and would talk about people, my latest crush, school. And she would point out how I was always bagging groceries better than anyone, and I needed to be in the HEB videos they taught us with during our daylong training. She’d say “You are taking this waaaaaay too seriously, Gloria!”. And then I would say “I can do this better next time, watch!” just because I wanted to make the time go faster so I could make off my shift and make the next party or band that night. Her favorite line for me was to come up after one of her stolen cigarette breaks and tell me as I was bagging furiously and checking out the hot guys was “Gloria! Bag like the wind!”
I thought of her today as I was yelling at Aidan running on the trail with my imposed index card system (10 cards at 2 minute running intervals each), timer and instant reward. My ex and I have been trying to make this kid run, walk, bike, WHATEVER, for years now with little success. And yes, we’ve had him in special needs leagues, too. It’s really disheartening to just hope that your kid will make it to the base with his buddy holding his hand and without crying. Not the sports experience some of us parents think we will have. But as I watched him today, I thought, not so bad Aidan, he may have some of his mami in him after all. Run like the wind, Aidan!