I wave from behind the counter. Jimmy, like many of my customers, is almost always jolly when I see him. I often wonder if he and the others are quite so jolly after they have left the shop with their papers and their cigarettes and other sundries that I provide to their lives.
“Turned out nice again, eh Cal?”
Molly never says anything different, and after having her as a customer for nearly ten years I know to simply add a ten-pack of Marlboro Lights to the total for the copy of the Guardian and the pack of sugar free gum that she has placed on the counter as an accompaniment to these unchanging, empty words.
Shopkeepers know all too well that the greater share of human interaction is fleeting and meaningless, but I always try to remember how precious it is to me when I have a regular customer that will actually step beyond platitudes and linger for a few moments to share an opinion or better still, really care about mine.
As Molly and Jimmy leave I tidy the counter and wait for Susan to call in.