It was truly a split-second moment, but it warmed me from the inside out all day. As I was driving to work yesterday, I came upon a stop sign at the end of one of the streets in my neighborhood. I typically don’t see anyone out walking at this time in the morning, except perhaps kids heading to school and the occasional parent walking with a younger son or daughter. As I was pulling up to stop, I was in a hurry. I had noticed a group of three adults walking toward the intersection where I was stopping, and I realized they would probably be wanting to cross the street in front of me. I noticed that one of them was an older man and the devil in me whispered “get to the stop sign fast, and pull out fast so you don’t have to wait for them.”
As luck would have it, there was traffic coming from both directions at the cross street, so that devil was left dissatisfied. I stopped, and immediately realized I was in the crosswalk, so leaving my foot on the clutch, I took my other foot off the break to allow my car to roll backwards a bit. As I was doing so, I watched the threesome look around the intersection as if deciding which direction to take in order to cross the road. I met the eyes of one of the women and waved her across in front of me. She smiled and mouthed thank you. The other woman grabbed the arm of the elderly man, who was making his way to walk around the back of my car, and pulled him gently in the direction of crossing in front of me. Again, I made eye contact with the first woman, who again mouthed “thank you” and I nodded and smiled, and then I glanced over at the man. He met my eyes and without warning, grinned.
I don’t know if I have words to adequately describe his smile, or the power I felt behind it. I immediately grinned back at him and nodded. The entire time he crossed in front of my car, he kept smiling at me, until the women recaptured his attention with part of their conversation.
I truly was taken aback. His smile lit up his face like… like… a young child who just got the best gift in the world and it wasn’t even Christmas. The smile wasn’t just in his mouth; it traveled all the way up his face, crinkled up his forehead and beamed out of his eyes. The power of that smile literally yanked a grin out of my own mouth, and I could feel my own smile traveling up my face and out my eyes.
His smile stayed with me through the whole drive to work. It made me think… how many times have I smiled at someone as I crossed in front of them? I know I do, but you know the kind of smile I’m talking about perhaps – the kinds where you just lift the corners of your mouth and nod a little. A polite gesture of greeting or thanks. And people respond in kind… a quick lift of the corners of their mouth and a nod back. Unimpressive. Nothing much to remember. Move on and fahgeddaboutit.
Around the end of my work day, I had a brief memory flash back to that gentleman and his smile and there was a burst of warmth inside. That smile still had power. That little, elderly ray of light probably has no recollection of me. I wish I had a photo. But I think I will always remember him. I know I will, now that I’ve written this.
A single, sincere smile can echo through your soul.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we all smiled like that? All of the time? What would the world be like?