The week before Christmas you have to expect some encounters with a few strangers. It's a busy world out there. Sometimes the encounters aren't pleasant, but this week I met 3 strangers who put a smile on my face.
1 - Jim, New Buddy at the Hardware Store
Early this week I made a quick stop to a hardware store in search of holly. I needed exactly 9 leaves for a project. A very nice man by the name of Jim seemed intrigued with my mission and clipped off more than I needed from a plant. "Wait! That looks better out there!" He said, pointing to a tree next to where I'd parked my car. I'd seen the red berries earlier, but figured the security guard would not approve if I swiped a branch. Jim insisted and as we wandered to the tree with clippers, we chatted about my odd project and Jim chuckled as he handed me a couple of fine branches. (Let's say the tree needed trimming, anyway) Then when I mentioned wanting to some greenery for the mantel at home, Jim grabbed a cart and had me follow him to a big pile where they'd been trimming trees. "Take as much as you like, it's free!" After I collected a bit, I noticed something shimmering and rushed over to discover a nostalgic delight. "Jim!" I had to share my tinsel discovery with my new buddy. "Look what I found! I didn't know they made tinsel anymore!" He seemed equally pleased. I bought the last tinsel packet for $1.95 and told Jim to have a Merry Christmas. I let him know he had made my day. I carried the purchase and free greenery to the car and headed home to start my project.
"Nine Leaves of Holly!"
Just to let you know...the project is done and I mailed it to my 3 year old nephew for Christmas. It was a book...a crazy version of the "12 Days of Christmas" using photos of my 2 inch Little Bear.
2 - Margarita, the Baker
A few days later I made a stop at Margarita's Bakery in Richmond. I often take this quiet neighborhood route and wonder about the people who live in the cozy little houses. I'd seen the bakery sign before, but never thought of stopping. Why not? I could buy some cookies and give some business to someone who might really need it.
The Cozy Shop
The little house smelled like a storybook bakery! The sun poured in the ruffly curtains and 2 batches of gingerbread cookies had just come out of a well-used oven. Margarita said she only took pre-orders but she gave me a mini strawberry cupcake to sample and offered a cookie as well. As I nibbled my cupcake we talked about how Margarita's bakery business has been running for nearly 30 years. She admitted that she had closed shop for a few years when her son became ill and then later her husband. "It's my third time opening!" She said with a smile. I wasn't sure if her son and husband survived the cancer. But you can be sure she gave them excellent care. She seemed like a kind and hardworking woman. I took her card and am eager to get back and place an order!
3 - Post Office Man
On December 18, I made my annual trip to the Post Office with 6 boxes on my rolling cart. I was nearly disappointed to see only 3 people waiting. I love this insane part of the holidays when the long line ends up forcing people to chat with one another and I eventually skip out the door empty handed. In only a moment I was wheeling my silly cart to the counter and I laughed to the man assisting me, "Just a few boxes here!" I was cheery! He was not. I babbled while he dealt with my load. He ignored me mostly until I said. "I swore I would do all shopping online this year and avoid this." "Well, why didn't you?" He shook his head. "Because I found a wonderful shop where you can buy beautiful things that support a home for mentally challenged adults..." He actually paused and inquired about the place. Then a co-worker passed by and greeted him and my grumpy man answered in monotone, "Glad to be here today." I looked at this weary worker and laughed, "You don't act like you're glad to be here." He sighed and admitted he'd been out a few days and was glad to no longer be home sick. He was softening and I was starting to remember how it feels to be dragged down by flu. Then the man laughed softly and admitted, "I won't be happy to be here in a couple hours. It will be a zoo." When he finished with my boxes, he seemed once again a little annoyed that I needed some Christmas stamps. But I got one more chuckle from him, when I took the tiny stack of stamps and announced. "Ok. I'm going to load my stamps onto my cart and head on out of here!!" He shook his head and smiled and I told him "Merry Christmas!"
Thanks, My Trio of Holiday Strangers!
You shared a little holiday spirit! Jim, your eagerness to help got my week off to a good start! Margarita, you were gentle and kind and reminded me of the simple things...baking cookies. And Mr. Postal Man, you gave me a little fun with your stubbornness! I like you all and will be thinking of you on Christmas!
To celebrate my birthday in April 2012, I decided to reflect on the past with a different kind of list. I've met a lot of people in my 55 years, but I'm going to stop and remind myself about the strangers I've met. These are people I met by accident, not through friends or work. For some reason, these strangers dropped into my life. Even though we may have only spent a few minutes together, these people have never been forgotten.
Each week, I'll spotlight someone I met in the past, who in some small way, made me stop and think.
Remember 55 Strangers