Saturday, February 04, 2017
Today I am grateful for kindness across America. I’ve already made it clear that I feel we can change the temperature of our country by just plain being nicer people. I intend to practice what I preach.
So this morning when we finally stopped for breakfast and a puffy man, in flannel shirt, torn bib overalls, boots, patched denim jacket, with at least a few teeth in his smile, walked into the restaurant in Lamar, PA and started chatting about the weather, I was his captive audience.
When my omelet came it was huge, so I cut it in half, put it in the box the waitress had brought and handed it across the aisle to him, explaining that we were on the road and I’d hate for it to go to waste. “It’s yours if you want it,” I said.
He took it, saying someone would eat it. But the best was while we were eating, I overheard him whispering on his cell phone. “Yeah, this lady just gave me all of this food. . .I know. . .she said that she couldn’t take it because they are travelling. . .I know. . .do you want it? Yeah it looks good. I’ll come by.”
When we take a road trip we stop a lot. A lot! Having made the trip from PA to WI many times, I have sworn to never, ever stop at the rest stops in Indiana again. I swear you could get booga-booga or heebie-geebies or scurvy at those rest stops. Filthy! Run down. Disgusting. But I had to go. Badly. So we broke all of my rules.
When I walked in I thought I was in the wrong state. Not because everything in the ladies room was new and beautiful, nope, it was still old and a little rundown. But it was the freshly cleaned, spit polished, bright and shining look of the place that shocked me. No round corners. Every piece of built on grime scrubbed up. Not a paper towel on the floor or a smidge on the mirrors. The toilet seats were all at attention and it smelled gently of bleachy cleanness.
When I walked out, a lady with a mop was coming in. “Are you responsible for the ladies room?” I asked, in a pleasant voice. To say that her shoulders caved and the life drained out of her face is an understatement. She was not young, probably close to my age and had that weary, “I can’t believe I still have to work and now this bitch is going to complain” look about her eyes. “Well, me and the other lady,” she answered with a disclaimer, eyes downcast, leaning on the mop.
I gently touched her arm and she looked at me, dead on in the eyeballs. “I have never in my life seen a cleaner roadside ladies room. It is just sparkling! What a fantastic job you are doing.” She was speechless, mouth hanging open, probably waiting for the punch line. “I’m serious. . .and I’ve been here a lot. You should be proud at the care you take. Good job!”
Her smile started as a quiver and travelled over her face like a tsunami. As she stammered to find the words, I wondered how long it had been, if ever, since she received any kind of compliment? I listened to her thank me, then wished her a great day, patted her shoulder, got in the car and we drove off.
It didn’t cost a dime or take much time, but a couple of people (three, with me) have stories to share today. Wanna bet they’ll pass it on? It seems pretty easy to spread kindness across America. Or in our own back yards.