a case of mistaken identity or maybe not…

A funny and interesting thing happened yesterday at 7 am in Walmart.

Yes, I was shopping there at 7 am. Frankly I think that’s a great time to shop, even for fancies, and especially for necessities. The roads are empty, the usual timepass shoppers are still sleeping, the corridors are clean and everyone’s in a good mood.

Anyways, in our area, seeing desi cashiers/checkout folks at Walmart, Target, Kohl’s and such is not a surprise by any means. Especially more so if they are on the wiser side of 50. There were times when it bothered me to see gray-haired gentlemen, who were once probably sitting in cushy chairs being served coffe/tea by chaprasis and signing files, are now on their feet, getting a hold on the keys and why an item doesn’t ring, or ask for assistance. Things tend to grow on you, and so as time passed by there is an unknown bond that you feel with some. A smile, a nod, and sometimes not even an acknowledgement, but yet, I approve, coz they have their pride and no matter what the circumstances are, they feel they can be worthy and so are. Wonderful!

There was one gentleman in Kohl’s [I shop a lot there] who reminds me of Nagesh. The black&white-tamil-movie comedian. He is short, a small frame, a long nose, lean cheeks, and a pair of interesting eyes that peek out of black rimmed glasses. Hair neatly oiled and combed. He is a pleasure at the checkout. He doesn’t engage you in un-necessary bio-details, just a simple how are you and oh so you are from South India? [yep, am that obvious!] I noticed him last Thursday as I was standing in line as he went out of the way and help another senior citizen cashier [a white american lady] who had trouble keyeing a customer’s check. This man, does such a fine job of explaining, and as he does, I notice the customer[another white senior] sneering at him for it. I was amused, and disappointed. So anyway, I checked out and thanked him and left.

Yesterday I went to Walmart, and here of course I see a 60 year old with a similar description who was still setting up his machine and wasn’t entirely ready, but on seeing me with a cartload, he motioned me to come forward. I recognize him too, but dont always bump into him coz this Walmart alone employs more desis of that age than all the Kohl’s stores in the area put together.

So, I was in a talkative mood, and he felt it I suppose, coz he asked me the usual q’s. So I answer him politely and add my own quip. The conversation went thus

“I am from Madras, are you from Madras too?”
“no, naan Bangalore , anaa nariya uravukaranga irukkanga Madras le”
“oh appidiya.” Pause and then I continue “Unga maadiriye, orthar irukkaru Kohl’s le. ”
“nijamava? Yaaru?”
“teriyaadu, but he is so active you know, he helps a lot”
Oh, so nallavara avaru?”
“yes, yes, very nice man”
He smiles. Fishes into his pocket and flashes a Kohl’s id card on a cord, and says “that man is me!”
“o migod!”
“it’s nice to know. Thank you.” and he stretches his hand out and says ” I am Sundareshan, what is your name Ma’am?”

I shook his hand, and came out grinning.
I made his day, and he certainly made mine.

On a completely different note – am I growing old, or a person must look different in a walmart brown vest as opposed to a regular white shirt and trousers? [btw, brown is coz he is a “star Cashier” ]

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