Every other Saturday morning, my husband and I go to a small bakery that's been serving the area for over 100 years. We've been doing this for long enough to be recognized as regulars (though not as regular as some, like Ted, a supremely cantankerous, wheelchair-bound octogenarian who stops by daily for coffee and toast).
My husband and I have constantly joked about never being allowed to go behind the counter, in spite of the numerous people who wind their way around the display cases to get into the back of the store. Most of them are employees, but some are patrons. The store's bathroom is somewhere in the back, though in spite of my drinking 4 generous cups of coffee every time we visit, I've never dared seek it out (I almost peed at the carwash because of this, but that's another story for another post). Last Saturday, the woman working behind the counter said, "Hey, Erin, I
want you to come back here for a minute." I replied, "Really? I
actually get to go back there?"
I walked past two glass cases filled with Easter cookies and walked into the surprisingly generous back of the bakery. The room was monstrously huge, filled with industrial mixers and huge wooden tables, and illuminated by an old light-up beer clock on the far wall. There was a fine patina of flour on everything, and the floors were the original 1900s hardwood: long, narrow planks, almost bare in appearance. The lady who beckoned me back gestured to two black plastic garbage bags on the floor and said, "Do you want to take a look through these? They're full of expensive clothing."
Visions of Valentino, Missoni, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci filled my head.
She opened the first bag and started pulling out shirt after musty shirt. Evidently, her idea of "expensive clothing" was St. John's Bay, Lands' End, Arizona, and Merona. Even more puzzling was the fact that she thought I might be interested in the items in the bag: plain t-shirts in every size from M to XL, enormous bouclé sweaters, maternity jeans, and various items I couldn't get away with wearing unless I was pushing 80.
"Are these things you're taking to Salvation Army?" I asked.
She replied, "No, the woman who dropped these off, well... she didn't want to give them away, you know? She gave them to me instead. They were her mother's, her mother who just died of cancer."
OH GREAT. I've spent the last 10 minutes rooting around in a bag of a dead woman's clothes. I found two nicer sweaters, so I folded them and set them on top of one of the bags. I really had no intention of taking anything, but I wanted to at least make it look like I was kind of interested. I walked back to my table and my husband noticed my grimace. I gave him the abbreviated version of the story, while vigorously rubbing hand sanitizer all over my hands. He said, "Well, they're free clothes, why not just take them?" So, just before we went to pay, I slipped back and grabbed the two sweaters I had set aside. We brought them home after our day of running errands had drawn to a close, and I threw them in the hamper.
Yesterday, my husband went to do laundry and while he was emptying out the hamper, I heard him exclaim, "AHH! Dead woman sweater!" ಠ~ಠ