This is for the newspaper column for December and I usually wouldn't post it until then... but it happened to me today and I feel really compelled to share it with you all sooner rather than later.
“Be nice and smile to everyone you meet. You don't know what they are going through, and they may need that smile. And treasure it.” - Christine M. Huppert
I had intended to write something completely different for this month’s column; the beginning of it is still waiting patiently for me to finish it in my notebook. However, inspiration doesn’t work by schedule or by intention. Inspiration strikes when and where it pleases, and if you are smart, you grab onto it and hold tight while you can.
Today, inspiration struck me in an amazing way and I wouldn’t be the woman I consider myself to be if I didn’t grab hold.
Over the past month, I have had an increasing amount of headaches. I have tried various things that didn’t work so, seeking any kind of relief, today I went the local chemist to see what the pharmacist would recommend. I needed to pick up some groceries anyway, so I tucked my reusable grocery bag in my purse.
After a frustrating conversation with the pharmacist, I had another headache alternative I hoped would work, paid and left.
A few steps out of the chemist and I realized I had lost my reusable shopping bag somewhere. Somewhere along the walk or in the chemist, it had dropped out of my bag. I went back and looked around where I could, but it was nowhere in sight.
By then, I just wanted to get home, but I had to get a few groceries and it was nearing lunch so I figured I’d pick up something for that as well. I was a short walk from the mall, so it wouldn’t be a huge detour to stop in anyway.
I bought groceries and decided a noodle box was exactly what I needed. I didn’t have to wait long before the kind woman presented me with my noodle box, and I was on my way.
Looking back now, I can’t help but wonder why I didn’t ask for a bag. I always ask for a bag.
Right outside the doors to the parking lot, the box busted. While it was a bit of a contained break, the box still fell to the ground and chicken, vegetables and noodles spilled onto the ground. The contents had been super hot as well, so what spilled on my hand hurt enough to almost make me curse out loud.
I knelt down to shuffle around the contents of my bags so I could have a free one to put the mess in. Of course, by then, I was thinking this was just another perfect moment for another perfect day and... Well, my thoughts went in a direction that wouldn’t be suitable to print.
People passed by. I wasn’t surprised; I didn’t really expect anyone to stop. I felt more embarrassed than anything. But then something wonderful happened. Something amazing.
A woman stopped and asked if I was okay.
I explained that the box had broken and spilled everything and I was just trying to get it cleaned up. She volunteered to get some tissue or whatever else she could find and disappeared. She came back with a huge stack of paper towels. Not only that, she insisted I hand the used paper towels to her to take to the bin while I cleaned up.
All while this is happening, she’s chatting away about my accent, life in Australia and what a shame it is my lunch is all over the floor. I couldn’t help but make the comment that it was “just another ‘wonderful’ moment in another ‘wonderful’ day.”
After that, I couldn’t hold it any longer. I sobbed a few times – those great choking sobs you do when you’re really trying not to cry – and she rubbed my shoulder, offering words of sympathy interjected with suggestions about getting my lunch replaced.
When I’d gotten hold of myself, wiped away my tears and stood up, she didn’t give me time to protest as she talked about getting my lunch replaced and how she’d go with me ‘as a witness’. Had I been by myself, I wouldn’t have thought to go back and ask for a new box; I probably would have gone home and cried a bit.
She walked with me to the noodle place, took charge so I didn’t have to say a word and waited with me while they cooked my replacement meal. Still she chatted on about doing nice things for people, how my star sign – Leo – didn’t mean I had a lot of bad luck but she, as a Sagittarius, had a heck of a time with being accident prone. We talked about the US economy and how wonderful it is that you don’t have to be insured to get care in Australia and, again, about how we all have ‘those’ days sometimes.
I received my replacement noodle box – in a bag this time – and she walked me back out to where we had met. She remarked about how you couldn’t even tell there had been a mess on the floor and asked me if I needed a ride home. After assuring her a few times that it was just a short walk home and that I really would be okay, I thanked her repeatedly for her kindness.
I told her how wonderful it was that people still stopped to help other people these days. Of course, she shrugged it off and said, “Well, it makes me feel good to help other people. I’m your guardian angel for today.”
I thanked her again and she checked one last time if I would be okay walking home. Then she gave me a kiss on the cheek and told me the day could only get better from now on.
I told her it started to get better the moment she stopped to help me out.
She chuckled a bit and walked back inside to do whatever it is she had intended to do before she saw me. I looked back to see her and she was already almost lost in the crowd. I never got her name. All I know about her is that her sister shouted her lunch and that she’s an accident-prone Sagittarius. She has dark brown hair and glasses – just like me.
On the off chance that fate should bring you to a copy of this paper like it brought you into my life today, thank you again. In this world of fear and bad news, it’s wonderful to experience simple human kindness and generosity. It’s not just wonderful, it’s beautiful. You may have considered the action small, but it meant the world to me. With everything in me, thank you.
Until next time...