What I Learned at the Flower Shop
Years after a tragic loss, Alisha Gorder finally found comfort in other people’s stories.
ON MY FIRST DAY of work at the flower shop, I showed up in sandals. The second day, realizing I needed something close-toed, I wore my nice Oxfords. The third day, having learned that less fancy would be best, I debuted a pair of red high-top Converse sneakers I’d bought specifically for the job. The clean white toes of my Chuck Taylors perfectly reflected my newness at the shop—how long it took me to put together bouquets, how I struggled to fold paper around loose stems in a way that was pretty or at least presentable.
“It’s like swaddling a baby,” someone told me in an effort to be helpful, but I had never done that either.
My dream of working in a flower shop had its roots in my grandmother’s garden, always in bloom, where I made bouquets with whatever I could get my hands on. But that experience in no way prepared me for the number of buckets I would have to clean or the way dirt would wedge itself permanently under my nails.
Mostly, though, I wasn’t prepared for the people, from the man who handed out three flowers to three strangers every Tuesday to the Thanksgiving guest who sent a bouquet to his hosts after walking off with one of their silver dinner knives. Their stories wove their way into mine and stuck with me long after I locked up for the night.
I always enjoyed reading the messages that went along with each bouquet. Most were what you would expect, plenty of “I Love You” and “Get Well Soon.” We got so many