Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Flower Appeared in Cement

I was in Border's Bookstore on the Promenade looking for a book. I needed a cup of coffee. I went to the food counter and waited in line. Two girls were ahead of me, and a young Asian man. Next to the Asian man--I think he was Japanese--were two elderly people. I assumed they were his Mother and Father. They were looking at the cookies and scones in the food case. The young women at the counter were almost done, the young man, paused, hesitated to move ahead next in line. When the two girls had paid, I started right for the counter and the waitperson, ahead of the hesitating young man. Suddenly embarrassed, but in all honesty more pro forma than anything else, I said to the young man (and his presumed) parents: "I'm sorry. Did I jump in front of you?" I knew the answer; as I said it, I knew I was acting was pro forma; rhetorical. The young man looked nicely at me and said emphatically but sweetly, "no", as did his parents. But unlike my question to them, their answer to my impatience was heartfelt and honest. I smiled; and not pro forma this time. They had instantly charmed me. They smiled. I proceeded to order my coffee. I paid. As I was leaving, I turned to them and said,"Thank you." They nodded graciously.

I returned to my table. My friend was waiting. He looked at my face. "What?" he said. I related what had just occurred. I said I was a man who had just found a small but beautiful flower in the cement city; delicate, almost insignificant, but oh so rare. I sat, nodded at the Japanese threesome as they passed by, and felt clean for a moment, pleased to be a fellow human being.


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