The Kindness of Strangers


Tuesday was a gorgeous, sunny spring day. The morning was warming up quickly yet still a bit of a chill in the breeze.  I had an appointment in Shaker Square and as usual I was early. I parked my car and headed out in one of my new favorite outfits, hair washed, make-up donned and feeling confident this meeting would be mutually beneficial. As I made my way around the square for a time-eating stroll, a large, disheveled, toothless man stared me down. As he approached he tipped his head toward me, smiled wide and said, “gooooood afternoon beautiful.”

I know in these days of rabid feminism (of which I often participate) I should have been appalled at the frank objectification of my looks. I know many would admonish me for even looking at the person who gave the impression of being homeless, let alone broadly smile at him and respond right back with a “good afternoon to you too”. I also know that his well-intentioned compliment made me stand a little taller, smile a little broader and made the sun feel just a bit warmer.

We are always so quick to judge people by their looks, their clothes, their demeanor. We often try to look beyond words for other meanings, nefarious or otherwise. But on this beautiful spring day a kind man on the square made me feel good, not just because of his words, but because we were both eager to accept the kindness of a stranger.

As I came around the other side of the square I saw my new friend once again approaching me. I smiled and waved to him like we were old pals, he tipped his head  and we said hello, again. The folks coming and going around us at the rapid station gave us quizzical and curious looks but we were just happy to see each other again.

Spring is in the air. There is still kindness in the world and I remembered to keep my judgements in check that day. I hope I made his day as much as he did mine.

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