Getting a story anywhere you can find one

Published 2:53 pm Tuesday, November 8, 2011

By SHELBA NIVENS / Community Columnist

I was contemplating a large tooth brush display in the Chelsea Winn-Dixie when a masculine voice said behind me, “There are so many, you don’t know which one to get.”

Turning, I saw a tall, unfamiliar, nice-looking man who looked to be about the age of my younger son. “It’s the same with cereal,” he added, and kept talking, while I tried to figure out if I was supposed to know him.

“I’m going to tell you something funny,” he said. “It’s kind of embarrassing, but you’ll laugh. And I’ll probably never see you again.”

He ran in Wal-Mart in Chelsea to get some boxer-type gym shorts, he said. He asked a clerk where they were, and was told, “I don’t know.”

“A little, old lady that was shopping said, ‘Come on, I’ll help you find them,’” he told me. “She did, then said, ‘Now, go try them on and be sure they fit, because if they don’t, you’ll just have to bring them back.’”

“You know the little grandma-type,” he said to me and I though, “Yes, I do, since I’m one of them. They’re like my Grandma was. As soon as you walk in their house, they’re wanting to feed you.”

“Yes, that’s the way we do,” I agreed, and he went on talking:

“Well, she went back to the dressing room with me and when I tried them on, she wanted to see how they fit.

“‘They’re too tight,’” she said. ‘You wait here and I’ll go get you another pair.’ She brought some more and they fit about like the first ones, but I didn’t say anything.”

He was right, I did think his story was rather funny, and sort of embarrassing to have a strange man — even one young enough to be my son or grandson — tell it to me in the middle of Winn-Dixie. But since I started writing the Chelsea column, I find myself listening to almost any story any place.

So I laughed with him, then said, “You didn’t know you’re talking to a newspaper reporter, did you?”

“You are?! Are you still working? How long have you worked for the newspaper?”

I told him I only write a weekly column now, but when I was younger I worked on staff for a time and freelanced for a long time.

“I could never do that,” he said. “I wouldn’t know where to find stories.”

“You just told me one,” I said.

“Yeah, but you won’t put it in the paper.”

But the more I thought about it, the more I thought it too good to not share.


Shelba Nivens can be reached by email at