There was nothing that Sharon Bernson loved more than going antiquing in New York CIty’s flea markets. Of course, like any serious antique hound, she knew that to get the best bargains and pieces you had to be there at sunup!
Unfortunately, her favorite market was on a Sunday, and that was when her daughter Danielle’s nanny had the day off. Sharon considered skipping the market, then she made up her mind: she’d take six-year-old Danielle with her!
That Sunday morning, Sharon set her alarm for 6:00 am to make sure she and Danielle would be there at 8:00 sharp which was when the vendors would be setting out their best wares.
She hustled Danielle out of bed and into her jeans and T-shirt. “Come on, lazy bones,” she cried. “Let’s get hopping, we’re going shopping.” To Sharon’s intense irritation, Danielle didn’t seem at all excited about the outing.
Nevertheless, she had her daughter ready by the time the car arrived to pick them up at 7:20. Sharon liked being on time. The chauffeur drove them to the flea market venue, and Sharon told him she’d call when she was ready to leave.
Then, with Danielle by the hand, she set out to explore the fascinating, colorful maze of vendors. This had to be the best flea market yet! Sharon spotted one man with an absolutely scrumptious display of early Americana, and another with real Spode china.
Sharon browsed happily for an hour, accumulating purchases and shopping bags, holding Danielle firmly by the hand. Then she stopped in front of a woman who was displaying cameos on a velvet-covered folding table.
“That’s gorgeous!” she gasped, touching one delicate brooch. “How much is it?”
“Well, that’s early Regency,” said the vendor. “And as you can see, it’s sterling silver and angel skin coral…”
Sharon got ready for some hard bargaining. She was beating the woman down dollar by dollar when Danielle started to tug at her hand. “Mommy,” she whined, “I’m so cold!”
Sharon glanced down at her daughter. “It’s not that cold, the sun is out, it’s just the breeze,” she said and kicked herself for forgetting to bring Danielle a sweater.
“But it’s cold!” Danielle whispered. “And I want to go home!”
“Do I complain when I sit in that stupid park talking to boring women on weekends when Rosa is off?” Sharon demanded. She did complain, but even at age six, Danielle knew better than to point that out.
“Then can I go look at that parrot?” asked Danielle. Sharon looked at the vendor next door who had a huge red macaw in a cage. “Alright, but stay where I can see you. Don’t move away!”
What makes a person worthy is their character and kindness.
Sharon continued talking to the cameo seller, frequently glancing at Danielle who stood in front of the parrot’s cage, her little arms wrapped around herself. Sharon finally sealed the deal and tucked the cameo in with her other purchases.
“Come on, Danielle!” she cried. “Let’s go!” Danielle reluctantly walked over, her arms still wrapped around herself. “Give me your hand,” Sharon said.
“But mommy, I’m so cold!” Danielle cried again. But Sharon was enjoying herself, and she wasn’t going to let Danielle’s little tantrum spoil her fun. She soon spotted something else she wanted and dragged the little girl after her.
To her irritation, Danielle was dragging her feet and pouting, doing her best to slow Sharon down. She let go of Danielle’s hand and told her to stay right there by her side while she looked at a lovely set of turn-of-the-century crystal candelabra.
When Sharon looked for Danielle again, she was surprised to see her with an old denim jacket wrapped around her shoulders. She immediately dropped everything.
“Danielle,” she cried. “Where did you get this?” Sharon fingered the jacket. Someone had been wearing it, it was still warm. The denim was silk soft and very clean, but Sharon didn’t fancy the idea of her child wearing someone else’s clothes.
A man stepped up. “Hi, sorry, I saw the little girl shivering, so I lent her my jacket.” Sharon looked up and saw a tall man in his mid-thirties wearing a long-sleeved old sweater and worn jeans.
Even though he was scrupulously clean, Sharon saw that he was poor, dirt poor, and probably homeless. “How dare you touch my child!” she screamed. “And how dare you put that filthy jacket on her? She’ll probably catch something!”
“Look, the jacket is clean…” the man said.
“I can see that the jacket is clean, but are you?” asked Sharon scornfully. “You probably have some disgusting disease like scabies or mange…”
The man shook his head. “Only dogs get mange,” he pointed out. “And I assure you…”
“You just stay away from my child!” Sharon cried. “You want me to call the police, you pervert?”
To her profound satisfaction, the man stared at Sharon for a long moment, shook his head, and walked away, leaving the jacket wrapped around Danielle.
Sharon pulled the jacket off Danielle’s shoulders and dragging her complaining daughter along, set off in pursuit of the man, following him into the crowd. A few minutes later she caught up with him.
He was standing in the middle of an admiring circle of people, signing autographs. Sharon caught a glimpse of a film crew setting up in a separate area of the market. “Wait…” she cried, but the man didn’t hear her.
“Who’s that?” Sharon asked one of the women standing around waiting to talk to the man.
“Hun, that’s Cordell Garson, he’s the star of that new Netflix series about a homeless crime fighter?” the woman said excitedly. “Isn’t he GORGEOUS!”
A TV star? Sharon determinedly pushed through the crowd until she reached Cordell Garson. “Mr. Garson,” she said with her most charming smile. “I just wanted to return your jacket and thank you for your kindness!”
Garson turned around and saw Sharon. He stared at her and took the jacket from her hands. “Thank you,” he said. “That’s very thoughtful of you. Can I ask you something?”
Sharon simpered. “Of course!”
“So what changed between now and five minutes ago when you were screaming that I was a dirty homeless? You found out I’m an actor? I’m still the same man, but you, lady, you are a shallow self-serving hypocrite!”
One of the fans was filming everything on his phone, and that night the clip went viral on social media, and Sharon was thoroughly embarrassed.