A Valentine’s Day Story

A favored walking route from Old Trolley Barn Park is the alley between Alabama and Florida streets. Occasionally, Pace (pronounced paw-chay, according to his owner) appears—and, on some days, Coon or Ghost (both nicknames) in an adjacent, expansive yard. Today, I passed by a woman either emptying recyclables or trash (not sure which) and she wished: “Happy Valentine’s Day”. She was cheerful, which emotion a higher-pitch voice accentuated. Her apartment overlooks the alley, and she recognized me from looking out her windows on other days.

The 35-year-old Salt Lake City native has resided in San Diego for about a decade. We talked about the terrible expense of living here, mainly housing, which she offsets by having a roommate and adopting a minimalist lifestyle. Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom’s several SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns put her on unemployment twice, which led her to become entrepreneurial, rather than depressed and destitute. Adapting her mom’s recipe, she bakes and sells chocolate chip cookies by the dozen—$15 a box.

My neighbor offered cookies remaining from an otherwise successful selling excursion to a Farmer’s Market yesterday. I don’t eat sweets and explained but said that my wife would surely enjoy a cookie. The friendly baker asked me to wait while she grabbed the goodies, which she freezes for freshness—well, when leftovers. To my surprise, she returned from her flat with a full, fancy box.

I could—and maybe should—have offered to pay something, even as a courtesy. But the thought (inconsiderately) didn’t manifest within my aging brain; my character is to ignore real, or perceived, passive sales pitches; and I don’t carry cash. I told her that the cookies would be shared with neighbors, and I asked for a business card should anyone want to buy more.

Returning to our place, I stopped outside and used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image and companion—so that this story would have illustration. Vitals for both, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, 28mm; 10:51 a.m. and 10:50 a.m., respectively, PDT. I prefer the first photo, which is composed as shot. The other is ever-so-slightly straightened and presented for anyone wanting to see more of the contents.

As promised, I shared the cookies with neighbors, and my wife. If I see the baker again, money will be offered in appreciation. Her go-to spirit deserves reward—and the chewy confections are delicious, or so I am told.