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Ace Hardware, 10:05a.m., Monday. I’m standing in line to buy some light bulbs. A silver-haired lady in her eighties with a faint black line of a mustache and pale translucent skin gets behind me.

“What a big line,” she says to me,  “this early in the morning.”

“I know,” I say.

“It’s going to be very hot today,” she says and shakes her head.

“It sure is.”

“I’m a Depression era baby.” She looks right into my eyes. “I’ve seen how bad it can get.” As she speaks, the man in a torn brown t-shirt in front of me moves up in line.

“This weather, and the economy, and the wildfires in Colorado, it makes you think that the world is going to end, doesn’t it?”

I nod in agreement even though I don’t agree.  I think there are times when it’s best to just agree with someone as long as it does no harm. Agreeing with her isn’t going to cost me anything. I’m not in my eighties; I haven’t lived through a depression.

She notices that I am next in line and she has seconds left to tell me her thoughts, the thoughts of a stranger running out of time. “Look at what’s going on in Europe,” she says. “It’s just falling apart.”

I put my three floodlights on the counter as I nod at her. “You’re right, Europe is not doing well.”

The cashier frowns at us. She just wants me to cash out, not talk.

But I turn back anyway to speak a few more words to this silver-haired stranger, holding her bottle of Windex.

“Have a good day,” I say, wishing I could wipe away the worry in her eyes.