i have been working part time at pier 1 and hadn’t really been looking forward to my shift on monday night. i was scheduled to close and that means you clean the bathrooms and mop the floors. two things i don’t even like doing in my own house. the night had been slow but steady, with people trickling in every hour.
around 8pm i held the door for two elderly sisters. the sun, still shining brightly as they tried to heft in a large box.
“i need to return this glass!” said the one wearing a baseball cap with dance across the front in neon letters.
the three of us coaxed the heavy box to the cash register while she explained she had bought the table top glass for her niece but it was the wrong size. after i took care of the return, sister #1 confessed she is a professional shopper and she is always having to remind her sister to buy things. she promptly turned to her sister and somewhat commanded her to buy the buffet she had been yapping about.
i helped sister #2 place the order. while i was getting her information to have on file for when the furniture came in, i commented that i also lived in maple valley. she described which neighborhood she lived by and i mentioned being near witte road. i pronounced it whit, like the majority of people do around these parts.
“witty. honey, it is witty road.”
i admitted we had first been instructed that was the pronunciation but we quickly abandoned it once we realized we seemed to be the only contingent referring to it as such.
she informed me the wittes (wittys) are one of the big pioneer families here. she, is not a witty. she is a cavanaugh and they go just as far back. she taught me about how the landscape has changed since 1935. she related how she and her sister would often be walking home, late, and passing the telephone operator’s home. the operator would always tell them who had been calling looking for them. she reminisced about how she and her sister, just 15 months younger, were inseparable. she said teachers would always write on her report card, “phyllis needs to let janice think for herself.” and they’d write on her sister’s “janice needs to learn to be independent of phyllis.” she giggled as she dished on meeting her husband. she confessed her romance would be a no-no now days. while walking home with friends from a school game a car full of boys pulled along side them. phyllis eventually hopped in the car. and the rest is history. filled with the korean war. babies. death. family. and her sister. her sister who was prodding her along. begging her to stop her gabbing.
i teased janice and asked if they were going dancing later (remember, neon letters spelling dance on her hat). to that she said, not tonight even though she had been a professional dancer.
i watched the two sisters leave as the sky was starting to dim and i looked forward to seeing them again.