Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Kind Hello

(Chinese Symbol for Kindness)

I was waiting for my mocha when he walked in. An elderly gentleman, perhaps in his seventies. Seemingly fit and slim, impeccably-dressed, though casual, he wore a sweet smile as he looked up at the board offering the names and prices of the various concoctions. The barista greeted him and offered his assistance. The man smiled. And, for some reason, something about him tugged at my heart.

He seemed a bit lost in this hustle, bustle place … wanting to be a part of it, but not sure what to do.

Was he meeting someone? Was he widowed? Recently? Was he lonely? Did he come to this coffee shop hoping for a friendly smile, a kind word, or was I just reading too much into it?

As I grabbed my cup, thanked the barista, and headed out, I noticed he was now near the door. No drink in hand. His head was down as he worked to get the zipper on his jacket working. I wanted to know that he was taken care of, but it wasn’t really my place.

As I walked by, he looked up at me. His eyes were a beautiful, twinkling blue, but there was a hint of sadness … or maybe loneliness. I smiled and shared a cheerful “Hello!”

I wanted to say more. I wanted to see if he needed anything. But, that would be too forward, too presumptuous … or would it be exactly what he had needed on that very morning?

I left the shop, hoping my smile and simple ‘hello’ was enough.

Have you ever felt that tug at your heart or that lump in your throat just from watching someone that you didn’t even know, sensing there was a need beyond what you could see?

20 comments:

Kelly said...

You do wonder if you are overstepping if you do offer change to a stranger or more than a kind hello...
But then again, there are some who think they are not overstepping when they criticize or are just plain rude to a stranger!

PJ Hoover said...

You did great! Your story is inspiring and uplifting.

Lisa and Laura said...

I've had this same dilemma in the past. It's sad to think that we don't offer help because we've been burned before and are afraid of an awkward exchange. This post makes me want to commit a random act of kindness!

lotusgirl said...

It's great that you did what you were comfortable with. Kindness is always in style. No matter what anyone says.

beth said...

Don't worry: kindness multiplies. :)

david mcmahon said...

What a wonderful gesture of kindness. These acts never go out of fashion, nor do they go unnoticed.

Danyelle said...

Sometimes. It's hard because you don't want to be too forward, but on the other hand, everyone needs a hand up sometimes. Thank you for sharing this. It made me smile. You're an awesome person, you know that?

Jeff B said...

I get that feeling quite often when I see a person with downs syndrome or some type of physical handicap that impedes what we refer to as "normal".

It's a weird feeling of wanting to help, but at the same time not wanting to insult them by the obvious sympathy within me.

Grey Street Girl said...

What a beautiful story! I'm always too shy to say much more than hello. I'm sure that made his day though.

C.R. Evers said...

what a sweet and thoughtful post. I often wonder about people too. Especially the ones that look lonely or sad. Funny how people we encounter only briefly can stay with us for so long.

Suzanne Casamento said...

Your hello and smile probably meant a lot. And if you're worried that he needed more, send out a little prayer now. It never hurts. ; )

CC said...

yes, yes, yes.

Kelly H-Y said...

Kelly - So true!

PJ - Thank you!!

Lisa and Laura - I was thinking about the 'random act of kindness' thing too, as I was writing the post!

Lois - You said it ... it's always in style!

Beth - Thank you for saying that!

David - You are right ... they are never out of fashion!

Danyelle - Thank you so much for your sweet words, and I'm glad it made you smile!

Jeff - Well said!

Grey Street Girl - Thank you ... I sure hope so!

C.R. - You are so right ... I couldn't stop thinking about him ... I can still picture him.

Suzanne - Your comment made me feel better ... because after reading it, I remembered that I had, indeed, said a little prayer for him as I drove away. Thank you!

CC - :-)

Beth Kephart said...

Whew. This one just knocked me down.

It made me feel like James Blunt makes me feel when he sings "Beautiful."

Vivian said...

It's hard to know when to offer help to a stranger or not in a non-emergency situation. I often find a smile and sincere hello does wonders to break the ice and offer the other person a way to reach out, if needed.

Stacy Nyikos said...

Absolutely! Those encounters haunt me. There was a psychologist/researcher who did an analysis on how we react to those in need. It was interesting. He chose religious leaders, i.e. priests, rabbis, ministers. They were being intereviewed and on the way to the interview passed someone who was lying on the ground in need. The difference was whether they were late or on time. More times than not, those who were late, despite their training, passed by the person in need to make it to their designated apptmt. Sharing hellos and stopping to realize the humanity in someone else is a great way to ground ourselves in our own humanity, I think. Good job!

Sherry Rogers said...

Kelly my husband says I am somewhat of an empath. . .makes me a good friend. . .I guess.

Anyway I can totally relate to your situation here. I constantly feel connected to people and their emotions.

I bet you made the guys day. . .a freindly face and a hello from a stranger, maybe all he needed. . .

Kelly H-Y said...

Beth - That means the world coming from you! Thank you!

Vivian - You are so right!

Stacy - That is fascinating! And, you are so right.

Sherry - Too funny! I'm the same way! I hope it was just what he needed.

Shelli said...

all the time!!!!

Kelly H-Y said...

Thanks Shelli! :-)