In this story from her life, Sara Olivia Garcia tells of an unexpected encounter while browsing in a small shop on her lunch hour. It's a tale of misunderstanding and mistrust, of compassion and forgiveness—and of what can happen when a person chooses to open themselves up to one or the other.
It started like a regular ordinary lunch hour, a time to get a bit of fresh air, relief from sitting in an office.
The day was mild in Boston, and as I strolled down a street away from the Boston Common, I saw a window, which interested me a great deal. It had rolls of fabrics and there were a few dummies with dresses. I thought it must be a dressmaker or a tailor shop where they make ladies dresses to order. I came from a family where my Grandmother sewed often, and I grew up spending hours watching her cut and sew…while I learned that my Grandfather had once been a tailor in Mexico and that he had been the one who taught my Grandmother to sew, so sewing has been and is a love of mine, close to my heart and filled with warm familial memories.
I went into the shop. It was a narrow, long shop and there was only one man behind a counter on one side and in the back of the long room there was one rack filled with dresses. I looked through them, and saw that they were unusually small. I chose a couple and went into the only dressing room, which was at the very end of the narrow store. I had my purse with me, which was a large bag, the kind that nowadays could carry a laptop or something of that size.
Both dresses were far too small and I left them quickly and left the dressing room. As I started walking forward and towards the door to leave, the man came out from behind the counter, his eyes blazing, and angrily told me to give him what I had stolen. As he said this, he came towards me threatening and yelling loudly. I became very frightened, and tried to tell him I had not taken anything. Nevertheless he continued accusing and coming towards me, raising his arm and lunging towards me ready to hit me. Without thinking, I threw the bag at him, and pleaded for him to look for himself. He did.
When he saw that I had nothing, he became very quiet and hung his head. By this time, I was crying, and as fast as I could, I ran out the door. As I was leaving, I got a close look at his face and looked into his eyes. I remember thinking that he felt very bad.
I went back to the office, shaken. I told my office colleagues what had happened. I continued to think about him and what he must have felt like, having accused me, seeing me shaken and crying. So I decided that I needed to go back and let him know that it was all right.
The next day, I returned. When he saw me, he looked up in surprise. I said “ Hello." I looked around the shop and stopped to look at hats and spent a few minutes there. Neither one of us said anything. We were speaking silently, I believe. I was saying that I forgave him. He was saying he was sorry.
He took out a picture and said, “Look, this is my wife.” He showed me a picture of a young woman, and I seem to remember she was pregnant. I admired it. After a while, I said goodbye. As I did, he went to the door and opened it for me and I stepped out. That was all. Sometimes words are not needed.
After all this time, I remember him, and what happened. I wonder if forgiveness perhaps comes to be with us. And we then are able to give it life with no need for words.
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