For the past six weeks people have treated me differently. It is my longest run ever without coming home with bitter thoughts about humanity sucking. I'm sure it still does, but things are different around me. It's probably nothing mysterious; I have a new confidence and ease in moving through the world which combine with my slightly charmed life to get me more smiles, more held doors, more nice little conversations.
I have not gone pollyanna about this. I love the world but you might be surprised to know how jaded I am by default. But do I do that just to keep myself in a position where I can be continually surprised by kindness and beauty? I don't know. I cannot ever make up my mind about the nature of this planet or my own strange self.
The day it started, I was in line at the thrift store. A huge sale, a slow line guaranteed to last half an hour. The woman in front of me was a small round Latina mother trying to wrangle three wild kids while she frantically redistributed everything in her shopping cart. I wondered what on earth she was doing. She turned to me and without many words communicated to me that I should put my tremendous armload of skirts in the front compartment of her basket.
Heavy. Heavy? Tired. Here.
What killed me about this, and why I have thought about her so many times since, was that she had not even made eye contact before going out of her way to help me. She got as far as seeing my huge armload and that was all she needed, she jumped into action doing what she could do. It was automatic.
I suppose it does not matter, but I am also aware that I was shopping for vanity, and she was clothing her family.
I do nice little things for strangers sometimes. But I am a jerk because had I been in her position that day, I would have carefully evaluated the other person's face, to see whether she seemed like someone who would appreciate it and say thank you. To see if she deserved it.