"Please buy something"

I heard the voice before my eyes focused in the dark little gift shop in Waldport. It was a man’s voice, rather high-pitched, explaining that he only turned on the lights when he had customers. Well, I thought, we’re here. Turn the lights on. But he never did. I guess he meant customers who might actually buy something.

Given some lights and a different attitude, we might have. My brother, visiting from California, was looking for a hat for his wife. He didn’t find what he wanted and hurried back out to the light, which left me, Ms. Guilt, listening to the man’s tale of woe. People came in and looked but never bought anything, he said. Business was so bad he didn’t know what he was going to do.

I felt sorry for him, but a lot of people are in the same fix. I don’t know what I’m going to do when the money runs out, but I tried to find something affordable that I might actually use. I didn’t need another hat or a tie-dyed tee shirt. How many key rings and refrigerator magnets does a person need? Postcards of the Oregon Coast? I can see the real thing every day. The more the shopkeeper whined, the more I told myself, you silly co-dependent, go already; it’s not your problem to fix.

“Nothing?” he asked as I headed toward the light.

“No,” I replied.