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“Can you tell me how much this book is?”


The woman had blond hair that stuck out in tangled tufts from underneath her pink knitted cap. She had heavy lidded eyes shaded in a softer pink and a face that looked as if time had not been kind to her.


She was holding a book with the title of Snowflakes. Its black cover was shiny and covered with a white object that certainly didn’t look like a snowflake. It was only when I took the book that I noticed the snowflake was magnified. There was also a subtitle: Finding Talismans In Nature’s Purest Form.


I scanned the book’s UPC code and watched the price of the book pop up on my screen. “The book is twenty two ninety five.” I said. I waited to see how the woman wanted to pay for the book.


“Twenty two ninety five?”


“Yes ma’am.”


“That is so much for a book!” Her voice had a lilt to it. The accent wasn’t French or anything that I recognized right off the bat. It sounded like a soft but garbled Russian, as is she were speaking from behind clenched teeth. “I don’t know if I can pay this, but I must have the book. Do you see, I found something today.”


The Next Page was a large bookstore that was situated in the downtown core. As such, we saw every kind of person come through our doors to buy a book, and quite a few of them were a little bit crazy. I had a sneaking suspicion that this woman was more than a little crazy.


The line up was stretching out; there were lots of people in line to buy books and the line was going to get longer. The lunch rush was always like this: people on their lunch break, in a rush to buy a book and wanting to buy it as soon as possible. Quite often, you saw people drop their books where they stood because the line wasn’t moving fast enough; because we weren’t serving them fast enough. Such is the life of a cashier.


“How would you like to pay for that ma’am?” I asked. I hoped to speed her along so that I could help the next customer.


She gave no indication of hearing me. Instead she said: “I must have this book. I found something today that relates to this book, yes? Do you believe in coincidence of life?”


Instead of saying nothing, I blurted out: “I don’t believe there are such things as coincidences.” I cursed myself. Rule number one of Retail: Don't encourage the crazy people.


A sparkle in her eyes lit up her face and she looked suddenly young again. “Ah, yes, see, I knew you would understand. I knew when I found what I found today that you would understand. It is all about pathways moving in the right direction, pathways moving, while I walk, so I know not where I am walking to. You understand?”


“I’m not sure what you mean.” I said. The line was forgotten; there was only the woman in front of me, clutching the snowflake book in her hands like a child.


She giggled, like a little schoolgirl. It was such an odd sound to come out of an older woman's mouth that it was startling. "You know exactly what I mean. You know of things that coincide with each other, things that don't make sense, but then make sense later, yes? You know what I mean."