When You Say Hello To A Stranger
And Share From The Heart
Something Wonderful Starts To Happen
July 27, 2007
The Difference A Hello From A Stranger Can Make
It's 8:00 AM. I take the same route to work each day, seeing the same
places and familiar faces. I walk by the bus terminal and see the busload
of business people coming from the northern suburbs, hustling onto the
escalators and dispersing throughout downtown to the many buildings and
I walk by the muffin shop, where there's always a line for muffins and
coffee. I see people dropping-off their laundry at the dry cleaners, and
the line at the Starbucks for a morning boost.
I walk through Marshal Field's, and pass by the security guard stationed
in front of the men's shirts, dressed in the standard uniform, black
pants, black shoes, and white shirt. He's a tall, slender attractive
African American with a mustache and dimples. The security guard greets
everyone that walks by. No one is left-out. "Hello", "Good morning", "How
are you". He makes small talk with many of the passer-byers, complimenting
their outfits, and wishing them well.
I admire how he knows so many people by their first name. His simple hello
makes people feel special. He's more than a security guard; he's a staple
of the morning rush. His presence and cheerful smile becomes a part of my
day. When he's absent, it's noticed. I feel an emptiness.
The first few times I see the security guard, I don't say hello back to
him when he says hello to me. I'm in my own world, contemplating the day's
activities. One day I say hello back. This continues for a couple weeks.
"Hello" "Good morning". We continue to greet each other day after day.
Then one Friday morning he wishes me a good weekend. Then on the following
Friday he wishes me a good weekend again.
On Monday the security guard asks me "How was your weekend". I tell him
about my visit to California, to see my mother, who has colon cancer. I
share how I visit her each month. And this last weekend Mom and I went to
the family cabin near Lake Tahoe to say good-bye to the cabin before it
sold. "My time with Mother is so precious, because I know that each time
may be the last. I feel sadness. I feel love. I feel fortunate to have the
gift of time."
He listens like a concerned friend I've known for years. He feels my
sadness and my love. He tells me how sorry he is to hear about my mother.
And what a gift it is to have the time with her that I have.
He shares how he lost his father to cancer two years ago. "I understand
what you are going through, I think about my father every day. He passed
away while I was serving in Germany. I was three months from retiring from
being in the service for over 22 years. Do to circumstances I was unable
to fly back in time. I was unable to say good-bye or be at the funeral. I
wish I could have been with him. Given him a hug. Told him I loved him.
Said good. You are lucky to have the gift of time."
As I walk away, I realize I do not even know his name. I'm touched by the
exchange and how compassionate and understanding the security guard is.
He's more than a security guard or a stranger, he's a person that has
touched me and who understands what I'm going through. He's a friend.
The following day, on my way to work, I stop by the men's department in
Marshall Fields. There's the security guard again, in front of the dress
shirts, with his delightful smile, looking at passerby's with a gleam in
his eye, and wishing each a good morning.
As he says hello to me, I wish
him a good morning back. Not a second after, I say "After we spent all
that time talking yesterday, I don't know your name." The security guard
answers "Gary". I respond back, "My name is Deborah". Gary says, "Have a
good day." I say, "Thank you, have a good day too."
Each morning we greet each other by name, "Hello Deborah," "Good morning
Gary". Every Friday, "Deborah, have a good weekend". "Have a good weekend
too, Gary. See you Monday."
One Monday morning, I stop to talk to Gary. Gary pulls a picture of his
7-year old daughter out of his wallet. The two spent the weekend together
going to church and to the movies. Gary transgresses into his 20-year
experience in the service, traveling all over the world. He shares the
importance of teamwork in the military and talks about the friends he
lost, fighting in Kosovo. He shares his vision of going back to school to
become an airline pilot. I share my dreams of wanting to work for myself.
Week after week, we continue to talk a couple times a week. We share
stories about our weekend, our dreams, and our families.
At 42 -years old, Gary follows his heart, and enters into pilot training,
and goes back to school to earn a degree in business. Then after a couple
months pass, he receives a call from the ROTC offering him a job at the
University of New Mexico. Gary takes the job, and moves away. It's been
several years since I last spoke to Gary in front of the men's department,
yet the memory feels like yesterday.
I look back at what started-out as a hello from a stranger and became a
friendship of sharing past stories from the heart and dreams for the
future. Gary touched me and reached-out to me and made my morning the best
part of the day. I experienced beauty of friendship and love.
In the busyness of life, we often forget how easy it is to wish a stranger
hello, and how great and lasting a difference it can make. When you say
hello to a stranger and share from the heart, you become a pebble in the
pond. With each ripple you create, you spread love that continues to give,
long after it feels like it has disappeared. Make a point to say hello to
a stranger today. You will give the gift that will keep on giving.
--- Sent by Deborah Rogers
Editor of www.littlelovetales.com, a blog to share
fond memories to warm the heart and lift the spirit.
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