A Caroling We Go

              She was so excited because she finally had the opportunity to go caroling on the square. She had been trying for years, but always had to work. This year she had asked at least a month in advance and got her request. Now, as she walked around the square with her friends she hardly noticed the crowd gathering and following them. When they approached the fourth store, he noticed her.  She had such a beautiful smile and she was so engrossed in the singing and seemed so truly happy. He thought to himself, “She is so lovely. She looks like an angel as she sings.” After a complete tour of the busy, festive little downtown square, the group disbanded. He stepped forward to thank many of them for their talent and he expressed his gratitude for how their singing had added to his increasing faith in the season. He then turned to thank her but she was hurrying away and he overheard her call out that she was late to work. “Oh, that explains the rush,” he thought. Other girl called out to the first that she and a friend would be coming by the pub a little later. “She works at the pub? That’s nice. Wonder if I should run home and change clothes first?” he thought.
                She flew in the door and threw her boss, Kelly, a furtive glance. She hoped her boss would not be upset with her tardiness. The boss looked up as she entered, frowned, but then just as quickly smiled. Kelly knew her faithful employee loved to sing and had wanted to do the caroling for years. She was happy to finally be able to accommodate the young ladies’ desire to share her passion and her faith. Kelly nodded her approval and set the girl to work.
                He walked slowly up the stairs suddenly feeling anxious. “What is wrong with me?” he thought. “You were married. You know how to talk to pretty women. Becky said you did a good job picking her up that day so many years ago. WAIT! Wait a minute! I am not picking anyone up. I am just meeting a new friend.” He walked in and found a seat where he could watcher her discreetly. He thought he had calmed himself till she approached his table. He ordered a Paulaner and before she turned to walk away, he said, “My name is Paul. What is yours?” He knew he had thrown her for a loop, so he quickly added that he always introduced himself to his wait staff because he felt it was important he be considered a person, not just a customer.  He didn’t say it, but he also knew it was important for the wait person to feel like a person and not just a waitress. She smiled and said, “I’m Lisa. Nice to meet you.”
                She went back to the bar, thinking, “That was nice. Seems no one cares who I am as long as their glass doesn’t sit empty. Maybe he is one of the ‘good guys!?’ She glanced his way often to see how his drink was doing. After a few minutes, she realized she wasn’t watching for that, but rather, was watching him. After 30 minutes or so, she stopped to analyze him. He was attractive. He smiled easily and each time he was smiling at others. Once though, she noticed his smile was laced with sadness as he watched a little boy play with a car while the parents chatted quietly. She wasn’t sure but it was as if he was missing someone.
                “She just floats around here. Must have been working here awhile,” he thought as he watched her. He watched as she served all who came in with a big bright smile. At one point, a man came in, pointed to his watch and stated loudly that he had seven minutes to drink his Chardonnay before he had to be across the street. “Wow, she handled that well, “he thought. She finished with the customer she was helping and told the man she would be right with him.  A minute later, truly, only a minute later, the man announced that he only had three minutes to get across the street. She didn’t flinch; poured his glass and watched him gulp it down. When he had left, Paul overheard one of the other customers call the guy a jerk, but Lisa quickly said, “Well, he isn’t polite, but I believe he needs help. I suggested once that he cut back and he seemed receptive enough. He didn’t yell at me to keep out of his business. I just keep praying for him.” “That is cool,” he thought. “She seems very sensitive to everyone and their needs.”
                The night continued in much the same manner.  People came and went and while he knew he should go, he didn’t want to.  She had stopped by a half-dozen times and with each they had talked a little more.  At one point, they talked about relationships and he admitted he was a widower.  She told him how sad she felt about that for him and hoped that he was finding comfort in his life. Why he told her, he wasn’t sure, but maybe because she made him feel so comfortable.  He felt like he had known her quite awhile and yet wanted to know so much more. When the evening was coming to and end and the pub was getting ready to close, he stopped her and as quickly as he could, asked if she worked all the time. She shook her head, giggled and said, “Not if I don’t have to.” “Would you like to go get coffee sometime,” he asked. “Well………,” she hesitated, “I think that would be ok.” “How about now,” he suggested. “Well…………, ok,” she said, and said she would meet him at the Saxby’s up the street.            Driving away and looking forward to seeing her again, he had a funny thought that Becky would approve.

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