When I was a college student, I sold flowers on the street in Rochester.
It was short-lived gig and not-too-profitable; a beer money job I got through a friend who had shady schemes and questionable connections.
This guy named Randy (I don’t really remember his name but Randy sounds good) would pick me up in his van and dump me and flowers at a random location of his choosing.
I had no cellphone, no ipod, no gameboy. I had a peanut butter sandwich and a book. Randy would swing by every couple of hours to check on sales and see if I needed anything. If it was cold, I’d sit in the van until I warmed up.
Sometimes I’d be on a busy street near a bus stop. I’d have a pseudo-flower cart with fresh mixed bouquets and roses. There would be a fairly steady stream of customers from young men to old ladies.
If I was on the side of some pokey county road I’d be dropped off in a puddly turn-about with a few sad buckets of flowers and a folding chair. I’d pick dead petals off the roses so they’d look fresh. There were usually some other roadside vendors beside me selling broken down toys or used golf balls. I’d sit for hours watching the cars go by and reading my book.
Valentine’s weekend was big. Lots of customers, lots of sales. If a guy was hot, he might ask my advice on which flowers to buy and then tip me. I imagined his girlfriend, an art student, waiting in their shabby yet hip apartment. She had a guaranteed-to-be-romantic dinner warming in the oven, an idea she got from a recipe in Glamour magazine. The table was set with mismatched china and candles. The flowers would be the final touch -the perfect centerpiece. She’d laugh with delight at her boyfriend’s thoughtfulness and extravagance.
I wished it was me.
Imagination 1. Reality 0.
*Ninety eight percent of this story is true.