The Chico’s Connection

By Erika Hoffman

The Chico’s Connection

His freshman year, my son met a girl. At dinner one spring evening in the outskirts of Atlanta, after a long drive from North Carolina, his dad, sister and I were introduced to Jessica, a pretty girl with auburn hair and green eyes. I could tell our 18 year old son was in love. That night, our family stayed at his grandma’s home near downtown Atlanta. Although not much of a shopper, the next day, I acquiesced to my kids’ wishes to hang out at Perimeter Mall, an upscale shopping mecca that contains Chico’s, a clothing chain I frequent. (At Chico’s I’m only size three, which sounds petite until you learn that’s their largest size.)

At any rate, I was flipping through the sales rack absent-mindedly when my son Erik asked, “What are you looking for, Mom?”

“Nothing particular. Anything in size three – that’s not too bold, too frilly, too revealing and comes in black.”

“I’ll help,” he murmured and wandered off.

“And that’s on sale!” I hollered my addendum after him.

Soon, he returned holding a couple of hangers with black tops.

“Nope. They’re sleeveless. I want short sleeves,” I said, hardly glancing up. Erik set off again.

A few minutes later, he returned accompanied by a stylishly attired, middle-aged, Latina lady with a welcoming smile. She clasped her hands together and beamed at me very friendly. Erik stood behind her and said something, but often I don’t catch exactly what he says because he mumbles. (When I don’t understand him, he claims I need a hearing aid.) Anyway, I assumed that he’d brought this congenial salesclerk over to assist me. I barely nodded in her direction. “Oh thanks. But I’m just looking; killing time really. I don’t need any help,” I said.

She looked confused when I turned around. I continued to slide polyester skirts back and forth on the rack. The lady slipped away.

“Jeesh, Mom!” I heard my son’s voice, this time – loud and clear.

Startled, I peered up at his bulging eyes.

“What? I didn’t want to waste her time. I think they work on commission here. I probably won’t buy a thing.”

My son looked steamed. “You were so rude to Jessica’s mother!” he said.

“What?” I exclaimed.

“I introduced you to Jessica’s mom, and you were too involved browsing for shirts to even say hello.”


“That was Jessica’s mom!” He pointed to the dark- haired lady about to exit the store.

“Jessica’s mom works here?”

“NO! She was shopping here, a customer, just like you.”

“You knew she’d be here today?”


Horrified, I dropped the apparel and ran to grab her before she departed.

“I’m so sorry,” I said, looking her squarely in the face. “My son mumbles. I didn’t hear him say you’re Jessica’s mom.”

“It’s ok,” she said, and smiled sweetly. “I’m glad for us to meet – finally.”

“Me too. What a bizarre coincidence we’re both here!”

“I like Chico’s,” she said. “I come often.”

“It’s my favorite store,” I said smiling back.

Eight years later, she and I together walked up the altar’s steps, lit candles and smiled. We were dressed in long gowns, standing in front of guests at The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Peachtree Street, Atlanta, Georgia. The occasion? Her daughter Jessica was getting married! And, likewise was my son, Erik.

On this day being in the same place at the same time for Jess’s mom and me was no magical coincidence! It had been well planned for a year.

About this writer

  • Erika Hoffman Erika Hoffman views most travel experiences as educational experiences and sometimes the lessons learned are revelations about oneself.

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10 Responses to “The Chico’s Connection”

  1. beth fallaize says:

    that is so funny I am like you I would have probbly thought she was tring to help me too

  2. margaret says:

    Fun story about the sometime embarrassing coincidences of life! This one turned out well and had a happy ending. Great story once again!!

  3. Vipul Mankad, M.D. says:

    A hilarious story that all of us would identify with. Erika presents an unexpected, embarrassing moment. We have all been there! But, in addition to the humor, I learned that humility turns these situations around, in this case, all the way to the alter. Wonderful!

  4. Carol Trejo says:

    Having teenage children, this story gave me a glimpse into the future. Thank goodness for happy endings and forgiving hearts. This story was so real, it made me cry. Thank you for sharing a meaningful moment.

  5. Linda O'Connell says:

    Your embarrassing incident made for a humorous story . I can totally relate!

  6. Barbara Margolis says:

    I guess there are no coincidences—only events that are meant to be, just like Erik and Jessica! I felt your embarrassment with Jessica’s mom, but “all’s well that ends well” (Shakespeare)! Great story!

  7. Dallas Swan says:

    That was a fun story I could so relate to. Erika Hoffman sure knows how to grasp your attention and bring you along on her life in a way to enjoy the simple pleasures in life

  8. Rose Ann says:

    LOL…the awkward moments can be so funny it brings people together. Yours turned out just right:)

  9. Erika Hoffman says:

    Thank you for the kind comments. This month I am staying with this son and his wife. While they work and go to school, I babysit their three month old son. Not doing much writing nor much of anything but caring for him and loving every minute of it.

  10. Jane W says:

    What a story! I always get a clear picture when I read Ms. Hoffman’s stories. I can literally see the characters as she describes what they are doing. So good and so funny!! Keep it up!

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