I commute into Boston nearly every day – which is hard – because 1) I actually don’t like to drive and 2) It’s not an easy or short commute.
In my attempts to goodify this “have-to,” I do things like listen to audio books, explore new music, and use the long rides to practice telling what I hope will develop into good stories.
I also do my best to connect with the men and women who are standing by the on and off ramps trying to earn a few bucks with clever signs and sunny dispositions. My entire career (in fundraising and marketing) has been built on asking, and so I’m always impressed by anyone’s (and everyone’s) resilience to get up and try again.
For months now, this one gentleman with a kind face, limp arm, and well-worn Sox cap has been trying his best off Exit 22 from 93 South. He and I exchange good mornings and the occasional song picks (mostly him commenting on what I’m blasting) – and that’s that.
Today though, I caught him in the afternoon – working the other side of the street – by the on ramp for 93 North off Atlantic. My window was open, and I didn’t see (or expect to see) him there.
“You have the prettiest smile in Boston,” I heard.
I looked to my left and saw he was talking to me.
“Oh, hey,” I said.
“When you smile you look just like a little kid. Sorry, that’s suppose to be a compliment. Only happy kids smile the way you do. I don’t mean to say that you look like a kid”
“Thanks, I get it. And I’ll take it as a compliment.”
I waved goodbye and headed toward the highway.
Then I started to cry.
For the most part, today wasn’t awesome – but this gentleman had caught me at a moment of relief – when I had just heard something that authentically made me crack in all the right ways, and I started to think that maybe we should all just smile a bit more…
Try and remember what it’s like to look and feel like a happy kid.
PS – I think my big smile is really in my eyes here – this is me at 4 years-old at the Cathedral of the Pines in Rindge, New Hampshire
PPS – My bonnet is awesome!