Archive for January, 2016

Held Up By The Toothless Gram Gram

I’m waiting at the crosswalk for the signal to turn. I shift the strap of my bag to my other shoulder as the weight of a dozen guava yogurts promised to Addison causes it to pinch my skin.

An older woman wearing white socks and plastic flip flops, gym shorts and a several sizes too big gray sweatshirt approaches me. She has silver stringy hair that hasn’t been recently washed or brushed, but is carefully swept to one side and held in place with a battered barrette.

She stops directly in front of me, drops her bright yellow Don Quijote plastic shopping bag near my feet and tells me she’s going to steal all my money. I look at her, thinking maybe I didn’t quite hear her right, this woman who moves as slowly as my boys’ 83 year old Gram Gram, and say, “I’m sorry, what was that?”

“I’m going to steal all your money,” she answers, and begins rummaging through her bag.

She pauses briefly to look up at me, and I notice all of her front teeth are missing as she says, “I have to scare you first. I have to find something to scare you with,” and continues searching through her bag.

The signal has changed, and people beside me who were looking on with interest now cross the street instead. She keeps rummaging through her shopping bag, muttering something I can’t quite make out.

I ask her how much she hopes to steal from me and without looking up she answers, “Ten dollars, so I can buy my man a present.”

I raise my eyebrows in surprise, both at the small amount of money she wants and at the idea of her man.

“Hmmm…” I say, “I don’t have $10 but I do have a $20. Would that work?”

“Oh,” she says, “I could get him something real nice for $20. Maybe even some dinner.”

She’s stopped searching her bag and is now squinting up at me. “Don’t you want me to scare you first?” she asks as I open my wallet.

I feel ashamed at the laughter rising through my chest, straining my lips, and do my best to stifle it. “Well…. I don’t think so. I think we’re probably good. Unless you really want to,” I say as I hold the money toward her.

She grabs it, picks up her yellow shopping bag, and turns to walk away. The signal changes and I laugh to myself as I cross the street to my hotel.

Who knows what present she’ll buy her man, it’s not really my place to say, but this little old toothless gram gram in Honolulu has certainly made my day!

**********Edit to Add********

Thank you, all of you, for getting as much of a kick out of this little old lady as I did. And just so we are all on the same page, I was never in any danger. It was so funny to me that she announced her intention, then started looking for something to scare me with, and all the while moved with the speed of molasses. I could have rounded the block twice (she may not have noticed), had I needed to make a getaway!
Also, as far as the money goes, it wasn’t at all that generous or kind hearted of me. I had, admittedly, passed many people in need without offering help to them as well. I had my bag full of yogurts and a purse full of money that I could have used to help many others, but didn’t. In this case, it took being held up by a toothless gram gram with a shopping bag for me to open my wallet. Perhaps she could be my motivation to do better next time.


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