An Easier Way

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I always smile when I think of the lady with the amethyst ring.

In the days after I graduated from college the only jobs available were retail, so I found myself behind a counter ringing up clothes in a department store at the local mall. It was definitely an interesting place to work from a people-watching standpoint. When the store was mostly quiet I would take notes on the conversations I heard and the funny stories customers told me.

One evening a woman walked into my department. Her white hair, glasses, and large beige purse reminded me of a younger version of my grandmother. Her husband wandered behind her making a series of bad jokes about the clothing she was browsing while she pretended not to be amused. Eventually he moseyed off in the direction of the men’s department, a terrible pun and a boisterous laugh echoing behind him. She sighed with mock relief and continued looking through the blouses.

I took a “hands-off unless you ask” approach to sales, so it wasn’t until she came up to my counter that I noticed her ring.

“That is a beautiful ring,” I said. “It looks very special.”

She wore it on her right ring finger. It was an amethyst heart surrounded by tiny diamonds set in a delicate gold band. The deep purple was striking against her pale skin. She grinned and gave me a very slight eye-roll.

“Well, my husband was wounded in the war, and they gave him a Purple Heart for it. A few years ago he said that after being married to him for so long, I deserved one, too,” she said. Her lips turned up in a wry smile, and she raised an eyebrow.

“I told him there had to be an easier way to get a purple heart.”

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