What I Learned at the Flower Shop

Reader's Digest International - - Contents -

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

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