“Heeeeeey, good looking!” he calls from the back of the shop in a thick accent.
“Hey, handsome!” I call out my usual reply.
His perpetually suffering wife, sitting at the sewing machine, rolls her eyes and shakes her head at me – the universally understood sign for “can you believe my crazy husband?” She understands English, rarely speaks, but laughs constantly. Her husband is the charming face of this operation, and she is the clearly the heart and soul. He once told me that she calls me his “girlfriend”, and I adore her.
I lay out my clothes. Two pants, one jacket, one sweater. An ancient Jack Russell terrier on a rope hobbles out from behind the counter to sniff my shoes.
“This is quite the watchdog you have here,” I say, as I reach down to pat him gently on his wiry little head. He looks up at me with brown eyes that have seen more active days of chasing squirrels and rolling in the grass.
“Ohhhh, he is old and wants to retire, like me!”
“You can’t retire, what would I do without you?”
He laughs. “I been here thirty years, I need to retire. Go lie down on a beach somewhere.”
“Me too.” I hand him some money, knowing that he won’t take as much as he should. “I give you all of my money, so you should be able to retire tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow?” he exclaims. “Wow, I’m so lucky!” He hands me a ten dollar bill instead of a five, and I shake my head as I thank him, acknowledging his kindness.
“Tomorrow will be a good day to retire to the beach,” I call out as I gather up my things and head out the door, “because it feels like it’s going to snow out there. And it’s only October.”
“This is Canada,” he exclaims, waving his arms, “Anything is possible!”