Today at Ocean State Job Lot, at opening hour, 9am, the inside of the store, with it’s painted cement floors (painted gray.  why bother?) and dusty smell, was surprisingly busy.  People were not milling about.  They were determinedly shopping – and I will not pretend to know why.  No smiley ‘good mornings” to be shared, no kindly moving of the cart to make space for another; just business, baby.  Business.

I was there to get school supplies.  This year, OCJL is giving a 30% discount to educators.  The announcement could be heard on the overhead every five minutes: we all know that educators spend a lot of their own money on supplies for their classroom.  If you are a teacher and would like to hear details of our summer offer, ask a friendly clerk for assistance.  Over.  And over.  Again.

Ah, but I was ready.  I already knew about the sale, waited until the day it started (then promptly missed that date and went today instead), having printed a pay stub and brought along my MEA membership card that both show who I am.  I could pass for a hobo sometimes the way I dress in the summer, I’m not gonna lie.  I thought I’d better cover my bases, lest anyone think I was a homeless woman in need of a serious amount of white lined paper.

I found many things that I needed and by the time I had perused the entire store, had a cart full of useful teachery things.  I also had a few things for home, to be dealt with in a separate transaction.  Little tip for ya:  OCJL is a great place to get toothbrushes.  Good ones.  Cheap.

Anyway.  I am quite an intuitive person and I am always conscious of holding up other shoppers when I have a big ol’ bunch o’ stuff to buy.  I went to a line where I myself had to wait first.  It seemed only fair.

When it was my turn, I explained to the clerk that I am a teacher, showed her my proof, yadda yadda.  She had not yet rung in such a discount, so asked for help.  Two, now, clerks helped me to gather my things, organize them to fit inside themselves for easy carrying and chatted away as we packed.  Inevitably, another shopper came to that line, behind me.  She seemed to be waiting patiently.  I didn’t notice, in my highly intuitive state, that she was peeved in any way…but the first clerk felt the need to explain.

“She’s a teacher!” she yelled.  And I am not being dramatic.   I jumped a little, and looked around for whom she might be speaking.  “A TEACHER!”

I looked up at her.  I realized it was me.  She was absolutely, 100% delighted with me.  Grinned like I was a celebrity.

I was very confused.

Several people in other lines turned to look at me, still dressed, you should know, for the run I went on this morning, unshowered, ratty t-shirt, sweat head…the works.

And then.

A woman two lines over hollered “Thank you!” and started clapping, “thank you so much!”

“Yes, thank you so much!” said the first clerk, then the other clerk, as more and more people clapped and cheered, whistled and woo-hoo’ed.  In the middle of Ocean State Job Lot.   For being a teacher.

I did what any highly respectable public school educator would have done, in my “Ta-Ta Trot” t-shirt and semi-reflective running shorts.  I bowed to those people, like a queen to her subjects.  And didn’t let a tear fall until I was in my car.