Monday, February 4, 2013

the kindness of a stranger

Saturday morning, while I was standing at the gas station filling up the family van, a large, spotless white truck pulled up to the opposite pump.  The door opened and perfectly ironed, gleaming white pant legs swung out.  They belonged to an older man in a brilliant pink and white striped golf shirt, white belt, and dark pink and white golf shoes.  His hair was thick, wavy, immaculately groomed, his face craggy and kind.  Turning to begin filling up his truck, he caught my eye, me standing in my damp workout clothes, face still pink and hair wet through with the sweat of my recent workout, and he said,

“Good morning, beautiful!” 

The adjective tacked on to the common greeting caught me completely off guard.

I smiled.  “Good morning to you too!  I am not feeling too beautiful today, here in my sweaty gym clothes.”

He responded with an analogy about tigers and natural beauty and how funny he would look with make-up on.  Perhaps he was making a point about women not needing makeup to be pretty?  I have a high radar for smarmy fellows, the kind that look you up and down and never quite find your eyes.  He wasn’t one of those guys.  He was sincere, open and friendly.    

Putting the gasoline nozzle back in its place, I wished him well on this Saturday morning.

“I am playing golf,” he offered, needlessly.  I mean, really, in that outfit?  What else could he possibly be doing?  Modeling?

“I thought as much,” I said, gesturing to his striking ensemble, “You’re looking pretty spiffy this morning!”

He held the sunglasses in his hand up to his chest, the frames of which were a dark, reddish pink, showing me how perfectly they complimented his shirt, his shoes. 

“They’re perfect,” I said.  And they were.

Sitting my sweaty self in my van seat and driving away, my heart was full with the gift of the simple compliment given and received, and a kind conversation passed with a stranger.   

For it is a gift when someone sees you, your very real self, your sweaty gym-clothes wearing self, and calls you, “Beautiful.”

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