On the counter, I gently placed a few essential oils and looked ahead at the clerk. From the corner of my eye, a sign beckoning a discount for orders $30 impelled me to ask whether I qualify. I knew that I didn’t, but I did so anyways. After all, I am a bargain loving Turk.
With his porcelain white smile, and off-the-cuff, but friendly gesture - the clerk declined. The answer was no, but man - was it the sweetest “no” I’ve witnessed.
Staring at the sparkle of those luminous teeth, I found myself transported to some place - otherworldly. A place that only permits genuine human interactions. No bullshit. A place where we all hold the right to refuse, while emanating love, care, and respect for one and other.
“Sir - with that smile of yours, I feel as though I have been given the greatest discount! I am perfectly happy with this exchange”.
He smiled once again, and pushed a button. And with that, my total was brought down a whole 5%. I found myself once again, transported back to my humanitarian utopia.
This is where the story would end for most people. After a few more pleasantries, I would walk out of the store with my discounted belongings and never see this man again.
But I wanted to make an example of this moment - I wanted to amplify the momentum to see how far it could soar, instead of prematurely hindering it’s flight.
I proclaimed “Just for that - I will buy another item.” Bringing the total up to a legitimate $30 - now, genuinely eligible for my discount. The same one he was willing to give away, even without me purchasing anything extra.
We both smiled at each other. Where else was there to elevate this game of upping the ante? Perhaps a lesson for both of us that every mundane instance has the potential to be greater than what’s at face value. A day’s trivial exchange suddenly became immortalized inside both of us.
When I came home, with the essential oils that I had just purchased - I made a unique concoction - a cologne - for a dear friend who had lost his job a day prior. I assembled the aromas carefully, thinking back to the set of teeth that had just glistened my day.
There was something more than citrus, orange rinds, lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, and anise that went into that creation. There was another ingredient at play, something elusive, something that can’t be bought, but still very much a part of this mixture.
When my buddy sprayed the cologne and inquired of the ingredients - I let the silence of the aroma answer on my behalf.
(Originally published on 1/20/19)