In the last recession, the one where the internet bubble burst, I worked in retail for a while. In the early 2000’s, I worked at a small, but popular store that sold African American and African products. It wasn’t easy, but it was cool for a while. The people were friendly and a lot of industry people came though there.
I met a girl named Erica. She started there shortly after I did. She was Hispanic. Very cool. Pleasant. During her time at the job, we became friends, because we were the new kids at the gig. We would complain together and chop it up about what we wanted to do with ourselves. I was a struggling writer/fledgling business man and I was just looking for a break. I shared my dreams and aspirations.
My time with Erica would be short-lived.
Erica found out her mother was HIV positive. She was in anguish. Soon after being hired, the end of Erica’s time there at the shop began. She told the owner that she would need time off and different hours in order to help her mother cope with her ailment.
The “boss” really, really didn’t care. He seemed as heartless as anything breathing at that time. He and Erica went in the back of the store to talk and, when she came back, it was done. Before she departed, amid all the chaos in her own life, she took the time to write the following in a small notebook I kept with me at all times:
I’ll never forget Erica.
She’ll never know how much this meant and still means to this day.