I go to Back Bay station every working day. That’s where I get off to go to work and that’s where I get back on to take my trip back home. Sometimes I stop by one of the stalls to have a bit of popcorn for my trip (Ssshhhhh! Don’t tell my wife.) That’s where I saw the popcorn girl the first time.
She works at on of the stalls. Selling loads of goodies – burgers and chips and drinks. And, of course, popcorn. A dollar fifty a bag. Nice and hot. And I love the smell of popcorn as I walk into the station. Don’t know why. It doesn’t remind me of anything other than the movies. But I still like the smell.
Always salty for me thanks. That’s how God wanted popcorn to taste like. Just a pinch of salt. None of this fancy sweet stuff. And the horror of toffee popcorn. Really. It’s salty or it’s nothing.
Popcorn girl is somewhere in her mid-thirties. Latino. But she could be younger. Because I never saw her smile. And that makes you old before your time.
I always wondered if she enjoyed her job. Because she never smiled. Maybe it was me. I don’t know. But I always smiled politely and said thank you like my mother taught me. But she never smiled. Just said, “A dollar fifty” and that was it. I’ll hand over my money and she’ll hand over the popcorn. But I still couldn’t stop wondering what her life was like. Behind the frown. And the non-smiling face.
Was she happy? Was she happy with her life? Was it what she wanted from life? Did she have a good partner? Was she married? Why did she never smile? Did she own the stall or did she just work there?
The stall moved to a new spot. Don’t know if it was sold or just moved. But it was even better for me. It was now right in front of my little entrance to the platform. but still no smiles.
I knew she had a kid. Because he would sometimes come and sit there by her. He must have been about 7 or 8. He sat there and colored in or read or just ate some popcorn. Sitting by his mother. And her stall.
And then she was gone. The stall closed down and she was gone. They still sell popcorn at her old stall. They re-opened a stall there. Two guys. I think it was her old stall. because the popcorn machine looked pretty familiar. But she is gone.
The two guys aren’t the same. They run it like a business. All smiles – fake and sometimes genuine. But I have no questions about their lives. They seem… well… you know… just two guys selling stuff at a stall. And she is gone. Don’t know where and don’t know why. Just gone. And now I wonder if she is smiling at home? If she is happy not working at Back bat anymore? Happy to not sell popcorn to the guy with the funny accent? Happy to be home with her kid? or is she out of a job?
I don’t know. Popcorn girl is gone. And I never saw her smile.
Oh, and the two new guys? They charge $2 for a bag! Bloody rip-off. Now I am not smiling anymore.