Saturday, October 25, 2014

What If He's an Angel...

     Working at a dry cleaners, I talk with strangers every day. I've memorized quite a few names. I know who likes to pre-pay, who likes their pants creased and I know who will not take their receipt no matter how much I try to make them take it. Sometimes I lose faith in humanity when people yell at me for things I can't control ("No, I did not personally prevent that stain from coming out of your shirt"). But sometimes, there are people that restore that faith. One of those people has changed how I see the world.

     A few seconds. Maybe two minutes --- every time this man came in I pictured him as an English professor. (That's the best compliment you can get from me). So, finally I asked what his profession was. Accountant. I was a little off. He turned it around on me, though. When he found out I was an English major, he asked who my favorite author was. A week later, a book about William Faulkner appeared with his dirty clothes. I don't know a lot about this man. But would you believe me if I told you that from a few two-minute conversations I know everything that's important? 

    Now I know that some people will say it doesn't matter what others think about us. And maybe my humble, dry-cleaning clerk's opinion of this obviously established professional shouldn't matter. But I think, in some ways, it does. How we treat other people says a lot about who we are, about our character. It made me wonder what "strangers" would say about me. For those that are religious, it tells if we really are loving our neighbors, if we really treat others like our brothers and sisters instead of just calling them so. Do we try to lift others when we could just go about our own lives with our heads down?

    Ironically, the book he gave me wasn't written by Faulkner. It's a compilation of other peoples' memories and opinions of him. There is one tiny part that stuck with me. An acquaintance of William Faulkner's of no particular importance said simply:

     "I like to think of Bill. I enjoy talking about Bill." (68).

   To me, that's at least partial evidence of a life well-lived. When I die, I think I'll be very content if someone, maybe even a stranger, can say about me: "I like to think of Brittany. I enjoy talking about Brittany." I think in some small way, that will mean that I at least got one thing right. I know that I can say that about at least one stranger. Just from these two-minute interactions, I know that he lives his life happily and that he genuinely cares about other people. He doesn't take from this world, he adds to it. And he's made my life better just by being who he is and even by taking the time to ask my name. 

    Think of someone you talked to today that you think won't even remember talking to you. Maybe it was someone you said "hi" to on the bus or maybe it was the cashier at the drive-thru or someone standing in line at the grocery store. Did you realize what an opportunity you had? Do you remember what you said to them? What would they say about you? Maybe their opinion matters more than you think. Maybe YOU matter more than you think.

Writing Music: "One by One" by Hilary Weeks and "What If She's An Angel" by Tommy Shane Steiner

"Maybe she's an angel sent here from Heaven,
and she's making certain that you're doing your best
to take the time to help one another.
Brother, are you going to pass that test?"