#24 In Roads-Brandie


Today has been the hardest so far. Partly because I seriously do not want to talk to anyone and partly because I’m in a city of very busy people who seem caught up in their lives. These are the days that I prove to myself that it’s ok to be self-contained. I actually reach out to and am rejected by several people before I decide to cruise the grocery store aisles.

A man with his arms full walks by and I offer to give him my cart. We laughingly exchange a few words before his scowling wife descends upon us and makes it clear that he escaped his leash. I see a young employee sitting at a table and ask if I can visit with her. She looks panic-stricken and tells me her ride is pulling into the parking lot and she has to go. I finally wander into a sandwich shop. I figure the lone employee can’t escape so I take a chance and ask if I can take her picture. She puts her hands on hips and asks why and what I will do with the image. She makes me laugh.

I tell her she’s the first person who’s asked why and she beams as if she’s won a prize. “Yes,” Brandie says with a pronounced lisp, “you can take my picture even though I didn’t do my hair and makeup today. I’ve been here since 11:30 this morning and I’m sure I don’t look too good.” I point out that a 12-hour shift makes for a big day. “Yeah, but I asked for it so it’s ok. I have to make up for my vacation to Las Vegas. I haven’t had a vacation for three years so it’s totally worth it.” She doesn’t look of age to me. “I’m not that much of a baby. I’ll be 21 in four months but really, it wasn’t that much fun because I kept getting kicked out of the casinos and I didn’t even get tan. I got to walk through the shops and all though, so it was ok.”

She tells about her siblings and being raised by grandparents who are retired railroad workers. I ask what her older brothers do and she stares blankly at me. I take a guess that they are in jail and she shrugs and looks embarrassed. “I’m trying to be honest,” she says and I can tell I’ve put her on the spot. “Me and my little brother are the only ones in my family who haven’t been in jail. All I do is work and go to school. I want to be a nurse so I’m taking the classes I need for now but the nursing programs are so impacted here that I’ll have to move to get the classes I need. I grew up just down the street, all my life and I don’t hate it, but I will have to leave.” I ask if she’s ever ridden a motorcycle. “Yes, but just on the back of one. It was green.” She laughs and apologizes for being so boring. I thank her for her time, tell her she’s doing just fine and to stay in school.


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